Many (most?) women experience broken or painful relationships with their mothers. Some lost our mothers at birth and others in the years that followed. Some of us had mothers who were (are) emotionally unavailable and cannot love us in the ways we desire most. Some of us have lost our mothers in adulthood and feel like orphaned children. Some of us still have our mothers alive, but we have become estranged, whether by choice for our own emotional well-being or through no choice of our own. I feel you. I feel your heart and understand your pain! Mother’s Day can feel like salt on an open wound for some, and others of us just busy ourselves ignoring it or lose ourselves in parenting our own children, pretending our own heart doesn’t still cry out for our mommies. I write this to ease your pain this Mother’s Day by first sharing my own experiences and then how I have learned to heal that hole in my heart.
I lost my mother when I was given up at birth for adoption to the state of California, and my records were sealed. I cannot even see my mother’s face when hypnotized because I was turned facing the other way. I was soon adopted by a couple who wanted a baby very much and loved me the best they could. That said, my mother was an ocean of unresolved pain and trauma herself, and she was much more capable of yelling, screaming, and expressing anger and disappointment than she was of expressing love. A hard, critical woman (to herself most of all), she thought I would complete her and became outraged and depressed when I couldn’t take her pain away. I had a very lonely childhood and always felt like the kid who didn’t fit in. Soon enough I discovered the sources of pain personally as my grandfathers on both sides of this adopted family abused me sexually. I share this to reveal that I understand the feeling of abandonment at a very deep layer, and those deep, unmet cravings for a mother’s affection, consolation, and protection.
My abandoned little girl in a woman’s body spent her twenties running, her thirties trying to find happiness by creating her own family and American Dream, and her forties watching it all crumble around her. True healing finally began when I met a shaman and began my holistic, spiritual healing journey. I have had my heart cracked open, cried years of tears, and come to understand and feel the love each of my mothers had for me in their own languages and ways of expressing it. Most importantly, I have learned to ask my heart what it craves and fill my own Abandoned Child cup with that. I have learned to become my own best mother which is an evolving journey.
What I see as I look back across the landscape of my life is how I gave away parts of myself in order to have someone else love me in ways that never quite fulfilled me. In essence, I abandoned myself again and again and again seeking the love of another. I also closed my heart a little bit more each time it didn’t fill that hole in my heart. (And I’m not even going into the ways sexual abuse worsened all of this.)
I heard in church after church, religion after religion, that I could fill the hole in my heart with God’s love. Sadly, that did not take away that pain. It was right there, one mishap away from bleeding all over the floor. With every disappointment, I retreated further from God and myself. Now I know deeply that God has never abandoned me (Hasn’t there always been someone there to care for me? Who orchestrated all of that?) AND there is more that I need as a human in physical form to feel safe, nurtured, and loved.
Deep inside, the inner child needs to know there is one person who will take care of us and never leave us. We need to feel nurtured, supported, loved, and safe in this body. In addition to God’s love, we need that one person. I looked and looked and looked … and finally found her right here. I AM that person. I can promise myself I will never leave me, will always take care of my little girl inside, will nurture and care for her with every bit of my Being!
Learning to be my own best mother involves making choices that nurture me. It’s a different way of living and a beautiful one. I still myself and connect with my inner child each day asking what she wants and needs today. In trying times, I am learning to reassure that eternal small child within me that I am here and will take care of her. Each time I do this, I feel more healing unfold. As I tune into her more often, I hear when she wants to play while teaching her why I need to work, too. I learn to balance eating to satisfy my taste buds (inner child) with eating to nurture my body. I give my inner child bubble baths and naps.
One very healing practice is learning to be with all my emotions without judging them or stifling the unpleasant ones. I just allow them and express them when I feel guided. Not knowing what to do with a feeling is not a reason to dismiss it. I allow them all, observing how the programming pops through my mind about some of them. I thank it and then observe and release. Slowly, ever so slowly, my inner critical mother is transforming into the nurturing, caring, accepting mother I always wanted. I am being that for myself! I can also help you heal the pain that is blocking your heart and/or learn to become your own best mother.
Ironically, the more I become my own best mother, the more I can appreciate every woman who has ever shared a mother’s love with me along my journey … from the one who gave me away so I could have a better life to the one who gave me all she had to give to raise me – to the friends who have been like foster mothers in my life.
Every one of us is a mother and has a mother: ourselves. Embracing this helps us to then feel mothered by Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon and all the mothers-in-skin we meet along the way. I wish you a very happy Mother’s Day and invite your inner child to treat your inner mother this holiday and to reach out in gratitude to all those who have mothered you throughout your life, feeling that they loved you the best way they knew how, and receiving that deeply into your heart. In reaching out, do so to fill your own heart with gratitude, expecting nothing in return because you give that to yourself now. This is becoming your own best mother.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Sheryl Sitts, MPA, BA, Broadcaster/Speaker, Writer & Facilitator