“The woman I needed to call my mother was silenced before I was born.” –Adrienne Rich
From Merriam Webster dictionary:
1a : a female parent
b (1) : a woman in authority; specifically : the superior of a religious community of women (2) : an old or elderly woman
3: maternal tenderness or affection
Perhaps because I innately understood that I came from something larger than I could see on Earth, I saw my birth parents as “The Wife” and “The Husband” instead of my mother and father. I did not connect with them as parental figures.
My relationship with my birth mother was difficult, tenuous. I acknowledged her as the female authority in my life early on; my heartache when she rejected or abused me was hard to bear. It is natural for any child of abuse to wonder what they have done, to wonder what is so awful about themselves, that their original source of nourishment and well-being are rejecting or abusive to them.
I recall at age 4 studying the behavior of my birth parents as if I were an anthropologist studying a foreign culture. Perhaps this was a survival mechanism; to distance myself in this way was a way to live through the traumas and increase my intellectual understanding of the situation, something that I used later to explain the way I separated from my family of origin.
While on one hand interesting and providing fodder for my life as I recorded how NOT to parent for my someday children, as the object/subject of their unconsciousness, and as their fragile, human daughter, it was very painful. After incident after incident of sexual assault and emotional/mental/verbal violence, little parts of me experienced soul death.
I have felt unmothered for most of my life, a state of being that I define as growing up without the knowing that you are unconditionally loved by your mother. It is a feeling of being an orphan, even though the woman that birthed you may still be alive and walking on the planet. It is a sorrowful sensation of being incomplete, of not being enough. It is a feeling of being a rudderless ship, unmoored and drifting, constantly in search of home. Being worthy becomes the question; “there must be something very wrong with me that my mother rejects me…am I awful?” When the question is answered by the absence of love in our mother, our worst fear is confirmed. We decide we are truly unworthy of love.
This chipping away of our resilient nature in an environment that doesn’t value us is the way we become bereft of love and continue to pass down the culture of violence toward children. And women.
As a grown woman, I felt a strong connection with other women who also had an emptiness inside them; I seemed to attract women who had been unmothered and were seeking permission to take up their space on the planet and make their mark. After many years of devotion to my own healing, I became a practitioner that helps women to connect with their worthiness; my note-taking as a young girl about HOW NOT TO be a mother came in handy, but the best training about HOW TO be a mother was the return to that innate sense of the bigger, divine parent I’d had as a child. Here was the complete acceptance and non-judgment, the unconditional love I was so thirsty for. As I learned later, the mother I really needed was the ideal mother. I found her in Great Mother.
“Great Mother” is my name for the love that we came from. “Great Mother” is my name for the ground of all being, the most basic relationship that we have with the universe. When I found this love again, I was back in the universe where I belonged, a universe that wanted me and that I am part of. No longer on the sidelines wishing that I could be included in the games, Great Mother scooped me up, wiped my tears and said, “I am with you. You are mothered. I’ve been here all long. So go live your life like it matters.”
And She set me down to play.
To be continued…how healing myself could lead to healing my mother, and our relationship
excerpted from I AM Her Daughter, copyright Licia Berry 2014, all rights reserved