Healing the Mother Wound

by | May 1, 2022 | Anxiety, Relationships, Trust Yourself | 39 comments

As I’ve sat in the seat of guide and mentor over the last twenty-five years, I’ve been privileged to be invited into the deepest recesses of psyche where archetypal material – the pain, wounds, joys, thoughts, compulsions, and anxiety common to all humans – rises to the surface and is spoken aloud. In the realm of the sacred, I listen. I hold. I reflect with compassion and curiosity. I seek to create a space where people feel safe to share these places and, in the sharing and witnessing and reflecting back what I see and hear and feel, layers of healing begin to unfold.

In this archetypal, sacred space…

…I hear about the wide spectrum of intrusive thoughts, from harm anxiety to relationship anxiety to health anxiety;

…I hear about the pain of being a highly sensitive person in a culture that judges and shames sensitivity;

…I hear about doubt in intimate relationships and pain in friendships, both under-discussed topics;

…I hear about career anxiety and transition anxiety and lifelong fears around making a mistake, perfectionism, self-doubt, and the fear of being a bad person;

…and I hear about the mother wound.

As I’ve listened to profoundly painful stories around this wound, as I listen to women from around the world who share not only similar patterns that reveal themselves in a similar relationship with their mother but also how this wound has affected their other relationships, including their relationship to self-trust, shame, boundaries, enmeshment, and even the very right to exist and take up space, it’s clear to me that this wound is rampant. The wound is global. The wound is a result of patriarchal culture that seeks to annihilate the feminine ways of knowing and being. It’s yours and it’s intergenerational. In other words, this wound didn’t start with you.

But it can end with you.

What exactly is a “mother wound”?

As I share on this page, I define the mother wound as:

A rupture of attunement where a mother, due to her own unmet needs, lack of fulfillment/sense of self, and/or narcissistic and judgmental tendencies is unable to meet the emotional needs of her child. The mother’s expectations and needs become paramount and the daughter learns to orient around those needs.

And let me be clear: This isn’t about hating mothers or blaming for mothers for all our pain. The bottom line is that our parents will always fail us in some way; it’s the nature of being human. Just like there’s no such thing as a perfect partner or friend, there’s also no such thing as a perfect parent.

Many daughters are afraid to name and see the wound clearly because they’re afraid that in doing so they’re betraying their mother and feel bound by an unwritten loyalty contract. When I ran the first round of this course last summer, I heard from several women who shared that they were nervous to sign up for the course because they were scared that their mother would somehow find out.

But we must name and see our wounds clearly so that we can heal them. And healing the mother wound is one of the most empowering and liberating journeys we can take for when we name the wound and allow our mothers to be fallible and human we can examine the old contracts, write new ones, and set ourselves on a trajectory that allows us to chart our own path, regrow self-trust, step into intrinsic worthiness and the fullness of our light, and receive nourishment from other sources of mothering.

In this 40-day course, I offer a roadmap for healing this wound. It’s a personal course and a collective course, for when we heal the mother wound we do so not only for ourselves, but also for the generations that come after us and before us.

I know that many of you have been waiting for the next live round of this course, and I’m thrilled to be sharing it again. As it’s gestated slowly in my being for the past two years – for rushing the course through me would violate the very principles of healing from a mother wound – I’ve held many of you close to my heart, seeing your faces as I’ve created the content, imagining us together as I share this roadmap and guide you on this segment of your healing path. I’m truly excited to be sharing it with you now, and I look forward to seeing you there.

The second round of Healing the Mother Wound will start on Saturday, May 28th, 2022, and because of the tender nature of this topic, I only offer this course LIVE once a year (no self-paced version). You can learn more and register here. I‘ll see you in the sacred grove ❤️.

***

The following are the times for the three group coaching calls. Please note that only about 1/4 of the participants are typically able to make the live meetings for my courses. All meetings will be recorded and available immediately afterward.

Thursday June 2 at 11am ET

Tuesday June 14th at 3:30pm ET

Thursday June 28th at 3pm ET

Please note that this course is for anyone who identifies as a daughter. To the beautiful men in my community: While there are parallels between the mother-daughter and mother-son relationship, the relationships carry different archetypal patterns and, as such, it requires its own course. Nevertheless, the blog posts that I share in advance of this course will likely still apply to you, and I welcome your thoughts and comments. 

39 Comments

  1. Looks very interesting. As you say, the mother-son relationship may be different, but we return to my mother time and time again in my therapy sessions. Her presence looms extremely large and a big part of my work is individuating from her.

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  2. Can it apply to not just your biological mother but other female role models in your life? I ask because I grew up in a house with five adult women, three of whom were my primary caregivers (my mom, my grandmother, and my aunt). It was a confusing mix of things because, on the one hand, they’re all in recovery (AA recovery, but also from their own abusive childhoods with varying degrees), but on the other hand, I realize now that no one in my house was really recovered to a point where all emotions were okay or any emotion except anger was modeled effectively. It’s only in the last few months I’ve convinced my mom that it’s okay for her to cry in front of me. At the same time, though, my mom is the one who’s been the most there for me regarding ALL of my emotions (and especially now). I never even saw my aunt actually cry until the last few months, and we had a bit of a contentious relationship when I was a kid. She was very uncomfortable with my emotions. And my grandma, while totally loving and caring and encouraging of feelings on the one hand, also sort of had a time limit imposed in which certain feelings could last. And she also presented like she was fully healed from her childhood, when in fact (and we’re learning the hard and heartbreaking way now), she was not and it negatively affected her health on a massive scale. I guess my question is, I have a more complicated situation, but could this course apply to me?

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    • Yes, it would still apply, Riley.

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  3. Also, I love that you talk about the negative effects of patriarchy in your work. I’ve come to realize more than I ever had before how it lives at the root of nearly every problem in the world. That’s why I connect so much to the Motherpeace Tarot Deck because it rejects the idea that humans are “just this way and always were and always will be.” Because it’s not true. Humans used to live in a matriarchal world, and I hope someday we return there.

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  4. Hi there – I don’t think I struggled with enmeshment but I do feel that my mum prioritised work over parenting quite a bit so have a deep sense of rejection here – I fear that I struggle to turn towards my own loved ones when I’m engrossed what I’m doing and that I might deliver the same wound to my own (future) children – I’m very afraid I’ll be a bad parent. I’m wondering if the course would be good for me? Thanks 🙂

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    • Absolutely. The mother wound can show up as either fear of engulfment or rejection – and often both. The course will address your struggle.

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  5. Hi Sheryl!

    I just signed up for the course, and I am so excited! I also have a question: Do you feel that this course will be a very different experience for someone who has lost her mother to death versus someone who still has a relationship to her living mother? My mother died nine years ago, and I’m curious what your thoughts may be.

    Can’t wait to connect on the course! 🙂

    Best,
    Cindy

    Reply
    • Hi Cindy!

      I’m so glad you’ll be there. I acknowledge throughout the course daughters whose mothers have passed away. Some of the material won’t apply but 95% of it will because we can heal retroactively.

      Love,
      Sheryl

      Reply
  6. Hi Sheryl, I am interested in this course but wanted to ask your thoughts if I am 8 months postpartum and struggling with anxiety… definitely a big piece is becoming a mother to a little girl and carrying all the issues I have with my own mom (which is basically everything you outlined for the course). I know you emphasize self trust but since I don’t know as much the content and work of this course, do you recommend me waiting until things are more stable or do you think it could be good and healing to go into when things are raw. Thanks!

    Reply
    • If you have the bandwidth for the course, I definitely recommend doing it at this stage, especially since you know there’s a mother wound and you’re having a daughter. If you can’t keep up with the material, that’s okay. You’ll absorb and receive what you’ll need at this time, and you can come back to the rest later.

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  7. Just signed up because I know this is a big theme for me. I feel a lot of resistance to digging into this topic though and almost feel guilty, as my mom really is wonderful in so many ways. I don’t want to blame her for anything since I know she did her best. She’s also still a big part of my life and my kids lives, as we all live in the same town again now. I have a daughter now myself so I’m thinking about doing this for both me and my own daughter, as I like what you said about this being intergenerational.

    Reply
    • Yes, the guilt around talking about issues around one’s mother, especially when there are many positive qualities, looms large for daughters. It’s what I call a “loyalty contract” and we’ll be addressing it in the course.

      Also, as I mention in the video and the course description above, know that this isn’t about blaming or hating mother for not being perfect. Every parent will fail their children in some way. This is about finding the courage to see clearly so that you can heal not only for you but also for your daughter and even for your mother and the women who came before her.

      Reply
  8. Hi Sheryl 😊 How would one access the phone calls? Is it still via the Internet in some form? I live in Europe and only have a mobile phone and a laptop, thanks. Also, Eastern Time is 4 hours behind GMT, is that correct?

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  9. I feel like I’m the poster child this course was designed for…

    I was enmeshed with my mom when I was younger and she leaned on me even as a child to help with her own wounds. My mom would always say things to me when I was dating with my ex boyfriend to try to “protect” me: “Don’t be down/anxious/insecure around your boyfriend or he will leave you, don’t say x or he will leave you” etc. Then, she chose her abusive husband over me and now I have no relationship with her. I often grieve the relationship we could have had or when remembering the good times that we had. I miss pieces of my mom for sure, but can’t figure out how to have a relationship with her when she is still married to her husband that abused me. I definitely struggle from lack of self-trust, perfectionism, not feeling good enough, always questioning or projecting on my boyfriend and push him away where I can’t open up.

    I would love to sign up, but I STILL have to complete the Trust Yourself course. I’m trying to make the TY course a priority. I’m wondering if that’s where I should be starting first and then eventually move to this one? I can feel the resistance already and the fear of completing either course and having to leave my boyfriend or finding we aren’t compatible or whatever it may be. Oy. My head sometimes spins in just wanting to figure out what the right answer is and what to do. I know that I just want to continuously protect myself from getting hurt.

    Reply
    • There is no right answer, Chantal, in terms of which course to take first 😉. If you feel compelled to join this live round, we’d love to have you. But if you’d rather wait to complete the other course first, you can take this the next time I offer it. There are so many opportunities in life to practice self-trust, and taking a course like this is one of them!

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      • Haha I’m sure my message bleeds lack of self-trust ;). I feel like I should (oh another showcasing of lack of self-trust) finish TY first even though it scares me. Like my therapist would say: run towards the barf. Time to run run run!

        So grateful for you, Sheryl!

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        • Yes, time to RUN! And we’re all running alongside you :).

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  10. Hi Sheryl,

    I’m one of the ones that has been really interested in this course since you first mentioned it on the blog.
    I have a question about the content of the course to see if it would be a good fit for me. Is any of the content geared towards repairing one’s relationship with their mother? I ask because I have no interest in doing so with my own mother, and find it upsetting to have that idea presented to me. (Many a person has guilted me with that notion.) I want to continue healing for the sake of myself, the world, and most especially my daughter, whose birth opened up the portal of my healing journey four years ago, but my own relationship with my mother is beyond repair. Her dysfunction runs too deep and we haven’t spoken in years for the emotional and physical safety of myself and my family, a decision that I do not regret.
    Let me know what you think!

    Reply
    • An excellent question, and the answer is a resounding no – the content is NOT geared toward repairing a relationship with a toxic mother. The course is about healing the mother wound, which for some daughters means staying in relationship to their mother and for others means severing ties. I acknowledge throughout the course that if your mother is emotionally abusive and on the far end of the borderline/narcissistic spectrum it’s not loving for anyone to continue the relationship.

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  11. Hi Sheryl! How does this course compare to Trust yourself?

    Reply
    • It’s completely different in terms of content. This course focuses directly on healing the mother wound, which does result in increased self-trust, but repairing self-trust is not the primary focus of the course.

      Reply
  12. Hello Sheryl! I’m so happy you are launching a course like this! I signed up already haha and reading your blog post and the comments, and I cannot stress how much the issues you described have been plaguing my mind space for the past several weeks – since the summer solstice actually, and your podcast about summer really resonated with me! I had so much grief come up, perhaps is why all these mother wound issues are front and center for me lately. I cannot wait to start this course!

    Reply
    • I’m so happy you’ll be there!

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  13. Dear Sheryl, my question is not related with the course, but I couldn’t find any other place to ask it. 3 years ago I signed up for relationship anxiety course – it helped me a lot. And I still follow your blog and developments. Some time ago I attended “anxiety call” during which you engaged with few attendees. Two of them seemed to be bit defensive and I was really amazed how gracefully and compassionately you responded. Instead of defending yourself/your way of doing things, you sort of jumped on the other side of the “barricade” to help the other person to voice out and soothe her critical concern. I was really amazed and inspired. You then joined to my list of “deeply loving people”. Some time afterwards I realized that I haven’t seen this trait during the course/podcast (during which you use monologue or dialog on some subject). It’s like this deeply moving trait shows up when I see you interacting with/helping someone else. So my question: do you have any videos/audio of such interactions? Where I could appreciate how you reach out to other person and I could see this deep and skilled love in action? If not, what would be the closest thing I could find? (Ps. this question is also inspired by YT channel “HealthyGamerGG” where a psychiatrist does online “therapy” for computer gamers – I’m also impressed by him how he can in loving way uncover deep issues often bringing ppl to tears).

    Reply
    • All of my live courses include group coaching calls, so if you’re on one of the calls you’ll probably see more of what you’re describing.

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      • Thank you, I will have a go soon!

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  14. Will this address the chronic neglect and abandonment, including complex ptsd from experiencing this kind of trauma in childhood and frankly even teenage hood, and early adulthood fr mother? Seeing her abandon herself growing up, and not being present for us, due to her own domestic violence. Is this the right course for this? If so, I will sign up right now!!!!

    Reply
  15. Will this address the chronic neglect and abandonment, including complex ptsd from experiencing this kind of trauma in childhood and frankly even teenage hood, and early adulthood fr mother? Seeing her abandon herself growing up, and not being present for us, due to her own domestic violence. Is this the right course for this? If so, I will sign up right now!!!!

    Reply
    • Yes, the course addresses both abandonment and enmeshment wounds. I hope to see you there. x

      Reply
  16. Hi Sheryl – is this only about the mother/daughter relationship and dissecting it or is it about healing from the impacts of having a distant, non-present mom, which created our fears of rejection and abandonment, the things we are now looking to others in order to fill for us? That’s what I’m looking. The after effects and healing those deeply engrained beliefs of unworthiness for not being seen, and our quest to always find someone to see us. I want to end that. It is killing me, literally, as it keeps happening over and over. I want to heal fr the effects of the mother wound and the “neglect” ill say.

    Reply
    • Yes, it addresses the long-standing effects of a mother wound, including shame.

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  17. Sheryl,
    What are the signs and symptoms of having a mother wound?

    I’m interested in this course but I’m not sure if I am a good candidate

    Reply
    • Here are a few bullet point that define a mother wound (not a comprehensive list). Victoria and I will also be fleshing out this topic in our next Gathering Gold episode.

      My mother:

      o Fails/ed to take true ownership.
      o Makes/made everything someone else’s fault.
      o Leaves/left me feeling like there’s something wrong with me and that any rupture in connection is my fault.
      o Re-writes history to conform to her view of herself.
      o Lies to conform to her view of herself; she may not even know that she’s lying.
      o Makes/made me responsible for her fulfillment.
      o Lives/d through me (ie: the mother who grieves for weeks or months when the daughter breaks up with her boyfriend; the mother who takes a daughter’s mistakes or perceived mistakes as her own.)

      Reply
      • Thank you for your reply,
        Where can I listen to this episode?

        Reply
        • It will be available on Friday through Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. You can also find it on the podcast page of this site.

          Reply
  18. Hello Sheryl,
    I’ve been a long time follower of your work, and as I have found myself to be able to grow into a deeper love with my partner. I have in the last several months found myself obsessing over whether or not the relationship is healthy. He is a great person, truly, and embodies all of the things that I value. However, I have been worried incessantly recently that we have red flags. However, generally the “red flags’ I’m worried about are things like how he doesn’t take enough initiative (he has done better at initiating dates recently and we have had a standing date night and church date on Wednesdays and Sundays for a long time, and even if I initiate he still makes the time to see me), I worry that he is too quiet/not touchy feely/lovey-dovey enough for me (he does give me physical affection, but sometimes I go through periods where I feel I initiate more than him? However, it physical touch is not his love language either and quite frankly I am not sure what it is), he also can be quite defensive when we argue sometimes or I ask him to change things (however I think he also has a very big fear of doing something wrong as he hates it when he messes up), and finally I’m a helper and he is not so much and I am worried that that is another bad thing. I am hoping these are just human differences and not red flags, but I am struggling to decipher them. Would be ever so grateful for your help!

    Reply

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