As humans, we have two primary needs; the need for attachment and the need for authenticity, according to physician and author, Gabor Maté. In dysfunctional families, a child will typically suppress his or her authenticity needs to preserve the attachment with the primary caregiver, typically the mother.
The primary human need is attachment. Left unaddressed, our attachment wounds will persist into our adult lives and may cause us to unconsciously arrange our lives around not triggering the emotional memory of traumatic aloneness. This is what can keep us stuck in relationships, jobs or situations that we need to move on from.
The need to suppress authenticity to preserve attachment creates an "either/or" mindset that can stay with us and get projected onto other parts of our lives. The healing comes from mending this split so that both authenticity needs, AND attachment needs can be abundantly met within oneself, and subsequently in our relationships. This is precisely the work that I do with helping people to heal the Mother Wound, transforming the "either/or" into a "both/and" that births you into a new way of Being.
This reunion in the self opens us up to the possibility of perceiving an even larger "and;" the larger bond of love and belonging that pervades all life.
Authenticity needs: The experience of having our real selves being seen, accepted and validated, including our...
- flaws and limitations
- failures and mistakes
- quirks and idiosyncrasies
- gifts and talents
- greatness and uniqueness
Attachment needs: The needs for love, safety and belonging including...
- being seen and responded to with kindness
- being emotionally held
- feeling of belonging to a dyad and larger groups
- physical touch and affection
- being supported and understood
- feeling emotionally safe
We don't have many models for what it looks like to persevere on this healing journey and many stop prematurely. A crucial piece is the willingness to be present with our own pain. As humans it's natural to want to avoid pain, but usually it's the avoidance of pain that is more painful than the actual pain. That's why support is so essential. The wound begins in relationship and the ultimate healing occurs in relationship as well.
Without accompanying resistance of mental storyline, emotional pain can be deeply cleansing, clarifying and liberating.
When the pain of that original aloneness of childhood is contacted and felt, there's arises a powerful sense of ground. When we can stand conscious and not turn away from our own emotional pain, we are standing on the firm ground of self. There is immense relief in realizing that you are feeling the deep pain of the core wound and you are alive! The emotional pain which you thought may destroy you has only birthed you into the realization of your vastness, in seeing that you are larger than any painful emotion.
Do you remember your little child self? The one who conversed with bees, flowers and butterflies? By facing the pain within you, you re-claim the little child waiting for you within. Your presence in the pain opens a door, where her innocence, vitality, playfulness, creativity, laughter and wisdom can flow into your life again.
In that moment of staying conscious in the face of your own pain, it's possible to glimpse a larger you, the you that is part of all things. And to sense it's mind-shattering compassion that has always already loved you in every nook and cranny of your life. You can see that nothing has ever been separate from it's love.
The attachment wound (or Mother Wound) can be a portal to realizing a deeper, indestructible "attachment" bond that interconnects all life.
By being willing to stay conscious in the pain of it, a veil is lifted.
Every bit of emotional pain that you courageously face births you into a more robust expression of The Real.
Over time, we realize that the ultimate security does not come from what the mind tells us, but from living from that raw, open, real core of presence within us; that core "ground" that is revealed in the center of our own pain. Over time, perhaps a lifetime, we become increasingly accepting that safety does not come from struggle or mental activity, but from a raw, open, not-knowing that can only guide us moment to moment. In this way, we become more child-like, with the surrender of a child but with the depth and wisdom that is carved out by the radical integrity that comes with facing our own pain.
This radical integrity is the foundation from where we build our lives of authenticity and service to the whole.
It's a paradox that by entering our deepest aloneness; the traumatic aloneness of childhood, we have the chance to see that we've never been separated from the Divine. The whole world then becomes our secure base for exploration. This safety is so vast, this embrace is eternal. You realize that you are free.
Life becomes a series of infinite shedding's down to the Real.
Metabolizing your own pain makes you capable of embodying a more potent level of truth. As you embody this, you are serving those around you in a profound way.
Your deep authenticity, your originality, your eccentricity, is the most potent and exhilarating expression of the Divine. Ironically, the very things that we had to suppress as children become the very vehicles that the Divine seeks to express itself through us.
The truth is that your own presence is one with the presence of the Divine.
You don't have to do or be anything in particular for this to be true. You already are and always have been infinitely accepted and thoroughly loved by the divine. This becomes self-evident in your direct experience over time. At first it's in glimpses, but those glimpses begin to expand until it becomes your primary mode of being.
Feeling safe in your originality and owning your sovereignty
The painful emotions of the Mother Wound serve to help you shed the layers of dysfunctional adaptations from your childhood and to reach the living core of fire within you... and to increasingly walk in the world as the light that frees.
In this way, the Mother Wound is a teacher. As we heal it, it transforms from a source of pain into a source of wisdom. Facing the pain doesn't annihilate us as the ego would purport, but instead births us into a new relationship with life, from separation to oneness. That presence within us, the "Inner Beloved," is inviting us in each moment into deeper communion with it, to hand over our masks, our false-ness, our reliance on the mind, our defenses and live life from an un-defended intimacy.
When a new level of pain presents itself to be processed, we can increasingly see it as the "Inner Beloved" beckoning to us to merge with it in the fire of truth, to shed down yet another layer into oneness with the all, to realize the vast embrace where absolutely nothing is left out.
On a deeper level, the Mother Wound is a wound with life itself. And as we heal it on the personal level, we step into something universal. As we detox from the cultural and familial messages, a space is created within us to radiate powerful energies that benefit all life.
How do we live this every day?
The truth is shattering to the ego. It is counter to everything that our culture has taught us. In fact, our culture is designed to distract us from the very investigations that are necessary to realize this in our direct experience. It takes courage and radical integrity to really LIVE this. But there is nothing more nourishing or exhilarating.
From the Real, our most powerful place is one of the un-glamorous facing of our feelings in each moment.
- Facing our pain, taking the time to process, investigate and gain insight
- Seeing our adaptive defenses and choosing to remain open
- Embracing our places of shame and actively practicing self-love
- In terms of productivity, act only when inspired, otherwise rest
- Scrutinizing our moments of falseness and choosing to be real
- Working each moment to not flee into concepts of "final, done, destination"
Reliance on the Real
- Overflowing feelings of love and compassion for oneself and others
- Becoming increasingly comfortable with not-knowing and finding your home in each moment
- Exhilaration of being alive and in the mystery of life
- Magical occurrences and synchronicities
- An astounding level of clarity and aliveness
- A profound sense of wonder and awe
- Periodic arising of "traumatic residues" that come up to be felt and dissolve into presence.
When inner safety is firmly established, within the self and the Self, that's when a wall comes down between the inner and the outer. (Just noticed a synchronicity that I'm writing this while in Berlin, a city in which a wall that separated the city into two parts came down.)
The Mother Wound is a potent access point to discover the deeper truth of who we are. And our willingness to be present with the pain of the Mother Wound is our biggest ally on the healing journey. The pain can be a portal into the bliss of self-realization.
© Bethany Webster 2015 - 2018
Art credits in order of appearance: "In Another Dimension" by Christine von Lossberg
- The Holy Simplicity of Sitting with Our Own Pain
- Going into the Black Hole to Find the Light of Being
- Dare to Own your Potency
Does this article resonate with you?
I invite you to explore my offerings on healing the Mother Wound: