The Comfort Deficiency (Unearthing the Mother Wound)
Rather than make you read through this entire piece to get the main point, I'm going to start with the main point: The element we are desperately missing in the world is Comfort. Comfort is "the easing or alleviation of feelings of grief or distress."
We don't have to look far for evidence of this lack - wars, famine, poverty, violence, religious conflict, disease and sickness. Much of this has occurred without emotional processing or closure. For centuries, people simply carried on with their duties because the world was not an especially safe place to stop and tend to your own needs. So the reality is: No matter what country you live in, how wealthy or poor your family is, or how kind your caregivers were, your heritage is rooted in trauma to some degree.
The field of epigenetics is now proving how trauma leaves imprints that are passed down through generations. This is why many spiritual practices focus on 'ancestral healing.' In other words, these are not your personal wounds, like the fact that you were bullied at school. These are your inherited wounds (e.g. your father and his father fought in wars, all the mothers in your family line experienced difficult childbirths, etc).
So why am I calling this the "mother wound?"
What Exactly Is Comfort?
Comfort is inherently feminine and nurturing. Comfort says, "Everything is going to be ok" in times of crisis, and it is confident. It doesn't just say everything will be ok - It knows it. The energy of comfort defies logic - Even in the face of chaos and destruction, it magically soothes.
Consider this example: A child is playing outside and scrapes his knee. He runs inside crying, feeling as though its the end of the world. He has no experience with this, and no idea if he is ok.
His mother calmly appears with first aid supplies and some simple words that acknowledge his pain. However, she does not join him in his frantic-ness, nor does she try to stifle his reaction. She is in a sturdier place of emotional wellbeing and this is the primary thing she offers the child - her own energy of wellbeing.
As this is innately comforting, the child's nervous system relaxes back into safety. In a few minutes, he's playing again like nothing ever happened.
This is a true healing process from start to finish. No years of therapy needed. Just comfort.
Certainly, there are many mothers out there that care for their children. So why is comfort so scarce in our world? Why do so many of us neurotically grip onto drugs, alcohol, food, coffee, toxic relationships, and other temporary comforts to soothe ourselves? In truth, if comfort were so readily available, we wouldn't need these replacements.
Where the Mother Wound Comes From
Let's be clear: This is a cultural pattern that affects us all to some degree (feminine energy imbalance). However, if you especially struggle with the issues I mention below and can't seem to make progress, it's important to acknowledge this in more literal terms: There are probably actual traumas to actual women in your bloodline that impacted their ability to mother from that sturdy place (Remember the mother soothing the child - She herself feels calm, safe, and intuitively capable and that is why she is able to comfort the hurt child).
So the mother wound stems from women's trauma - your mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and so on. This may hit home more for women, but men can certainly have mother wounds as well.
Mothers who do not feel free, safe, comfortable, taken care of, seen, heard, felt - these mothers simply cannot provide that soothing for their children. Often, they've never experienced it themselves, so they have no point of reference they can possibly pull from.
Even if they hear teachings about self-care, nurturing, slowing down, being emotionally open, etc - They STILL have no point of reference in their body - and lived experience trumps everything we learn mentally.
Symptoms of the Mother Wound
If you chronically feel excessive anxiety, self-doubt, questioning your capabilities, unable to relax, or plagued by uncertainty - consider this wound.
In more immediate cases, such as those who were parented by a mother with narcissistic personality disorder or severe depression, there may be chronic feelings of shame, guilt, extreme self-sacrifice, low self-worth, and hopelessness. Why hopelessness? Because it is the unintegrated childhood trauma of "mom's not coming" or "mom's not ok." This is constant stress on the nervous system that causes a child to internalize "I'm Not Ok." (Imagine if the boy who scraped his knee was never soothed. A part of his nervous system is quite literally stuck there forever.)
The mother wound may also show itself as a lack of emotional support in our lives - We bump into a continuous stream of equally traumatized people who can't really comfort us either. This comfort deficiency manifests in how we treat ourselves, how we treat others, our dominant belief systems, and yes, even how our society and institutions are run.
Some of the subconscious beliefs that can come with this wound are: -- I cant slow down or calm down -- I cant make a mistake (or shame arises). -- I don't feel safe in this world. -- If I don't do it perfect, I'm a bad person. -- I have to do it all myself because there's no one to help me.
With an absence of comfort and an acute mother wound, the theme is simple, yet profound: I'm Not Ok. Imagine the havoc wreaked on the nervous system from this pattern playing out for decades. In many of us, it has. Constant nervous system stimulation, which results in abnormally high cortisol levels (and we wonder why hormonal imbalances and chronic fatigue plague much of our population).
Healing the Pattern in Ourselves
The first thing to understand about this is that there will be grief. There is usually no way around this. Processing grief is not fun, and may require many rounds of shadow work, meditation, crying, etc. But it is necessary - Otherwise, we actually condemn ourselves to a life of underlying depression, and may even make excuses for people's mistreatment of us (e.g. A person who's mother was too harsh tells themselves they deserved it, thus avoiding having to grieve the fact that they didn't.)
Next, healing this pattern involves channeling that motherly energy inward toward YOURSELF first (only then can you outwardly give it to others). It is important to point out that non-judgment is a very important element of healing this (We cannot be judging or even putting subtle conditions on allowing ourselves to comfort ourselves). This is not the same as indulging or numbing out - We have to actually discover how to make ourselves feel better. Remember the small child who scraped his knee - The mother swoops in and provides ABSOLUTE safety, acceptance, comfort, and calm. Nothing else is needed in that moment - no scolding, no doubt, no panic, no second opinion. The comfort IS the medicine. This is the precise energy that is most absent in our culture, and because of that, many of us feel unsafe, incomplete, unable to risk or explore, or crippled by depression and grief (subconsciously, we crave that natural maternal energy that is still missing). THIS is why we cope. This is why so many enlightened people still have such drastic addictions, coping mechanisms, and self-sabotage. We NEED yin energy, not evermore willpower, forcing, and self-denial. This addiction to 'yang on steroids' is especially prevalent in Western culture (often mistaken for productivity ;). We can survive without yin (as we have), but we will merely cope until that balance is restored.
How the Feminine Broke
Whew! That was a lot. If you're still reading, you're awesome.
Lastly, I just want to detail some of these 'injustices' to the feminine - not to shame or blame anyone, but to demonstrate how our society has gotten offtrack in this way.
Obviously, the prevalence of physical abuse toward women has drastically taken many women, and mothers, out of their bodies. Some might call this 'lower chakra' trauma, which causes us to be ungrounded, constantly in our head, suffering from reproductive issues, and more. I'm also beginning to believe that PTSD and CPTSD are far more common/undiagnosed than many realize. (I was shocked to find how much I personally relate to CPTSD issues, and I was, by no stretch, an abused child). (Some may find the following points offensive - All I can say is, I think it's extremely important that we become aware of this trend.)
Motherhood is valued in many systems only so much as it serves that system. But in truth, feminine energy is more vast, powerful, and creative than any human-built system of oppression. Its creative capacity is unmatched, and perhaps this is part of the reason it is despised, objectified, and belittled by those who seek control. Because comfort is so absent in our culture, motherhood itself has been, at worst, shoved aside and considered worthless (not a real job because it doesn't earn money), and at best, artificially condensed to fit into a Yang system it was never meant to fit into (It was meant to compliment alongside it). A perfect example of this is how pregnant women's birthing process has progressively been removed from it's natural state and into a more and more artificial state. This has been done in the name of safety and advanced medicine, but it has been taken too far to the point of stunting our health and evolution significantly. (E.g. In the 1930s, an epidemic of infants dying in hospitals was documented. We now know that it was likely due to a lack of human contact, as infants were instead placed in incubators for prolonged periods away from their mothers. Today, we still have practices that disrespectfully interrupt the birthing process.) Women who do not want to birth in hospitals, surrounded by strangers and heavily medicated are told that they are putting their baby in danger and are irresponsible for requesting control over their own child's birth. They are quite literally shamed out of learning how to be mothers and told to rely on (often male) doctors who know better about their bodies. To rely on intuition is "ridiculous." We must call every expert, do exactly as we're told, and never consult our inner guidance for it may harm our babies. Women's bodies are treated as mere machines of conception, going thru standard procedures with often disengaged, exhausted medical workers who are not trained in the birthing process itself. This sets the stage for motherhood where women are not encouraged to learn, trust themselves, or even bond authentically with their children. Many women have lost touch with how to be in their femininity (I address this toward the end of the anima/animus podcast), thus relinquishing their maternal guidance. They feel anxious, unsure of themselves, and pass that energy down to their children, who must now spend their lives coping, unknowingly, with the mother wound.
No one is at fault here. We begin with self-compassion.