No matter how hard I try I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere. Everything is a struggle, and I don’t get any support. I give and give and give and then I get resentful.”
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many adults who grew up with a wounded or traumatized mother feel this way.
Most children, if they experience their mothers as distant, over-burdened, or lonely, try they do whatever they can to fill what mom is missing. But whatever mom is yearning for, it cannot be filled or healed by their partner or their child. But nonetheless, driven by this biological need to bond, the child tries. Too young to know the cost down the road.
If the natural flow of attunement from mom to child is not there, the child tries to attune to mom, causing the flow to go in the wrong direction. Instead of receiving emotional support, they learn to give it. They become mom’s confidant, partner, and best friend. Though they are swimming against the natural flow of giving, it feels good in the beginning, becoming bigger than they are. But this illusion of empowerment comes with a heavy cost. While this strategy may keep the deeper fears of a child at bay, it also establishes an invisible foundation of having to give to get, and an inability to trust and receive.
As the child grows into adulthood, this over-extending of self becomes just the way they are. Life is experienced as a struggle in which I will be there for others, and but no one will ever be there for me. And when you get married and your partner tries to be there for you, you don’t feel it or can’t receive it. And when you have a child, s/he will, like you did, try to fill in for what you didn’t receive from your mom, and fail. And the cycle goes on and on over generations. Even though you may be getting from everyone in your life, it’s never from where it needed to come from so it will never be enough. The longing in little you, to be attuned to and supported by mom, is a place, now, only you can heal.
Traumatic events left incomplete, undigested, and unspoken interfere with the downstream flow of nurturing. These experiences take up space and energy in the body creating imprints of compressed stress. These imprints of holding become inner defense strategies and outer behavior and thought patterns. Left unconscious, it’s almost impossible to give what you didn’t get from mom.
And we’re not blaming Mom. Most likely she was not attuned to by her mom, either. Birth trauma, relationship trauma with dad, trauma from a previous birth, or traumas from previous generations, are the kind of events whose impact keep moms from attuning with their children. It is NOT PERSONAL.
What happened, happened. There’s nothing to be done. But we do need to include and acknowledge the impact. When we can see and understand that what happened to Mom created her way of being; and that you, her child, just responded to it out of survival, it’s possible to choose not to repeat the pattern but to individuate and attune yourself to yourself and fill your own needs.
The intention of the family constellation and embodiment work is all about returning to the abundance of love and the flow of nurturing. It can reveal the invisible dynamics that block that flow such that you can step out of repetitive suffering back into strength and health.