May 21, 2021

Mother’s Day allows us to celebrate our moms for all they’ve done for us. How they always gave us the bigger share, tucked us in at night with kisses, showed up to our school meetings, held us when we cried, laughed and celebrated with us, loved us when no one else would or welcomed us back home when life became too hard to bear.


However, for some of us, it only serves as a reminder of our strained relationships with our moms and the trauma we endured from them. How we walked on eggshells around her, always looking to please her. How she raised her voice at the slightest of mistakes. Her short temper and unwarranted punishments, her disregard for our existence and her dismissal of our emotions.

As others speak highly of their mothers, you simply can’t find one good reason to celebrate yours. All you’ve known is abuse and pain from her and to this day, she still hasn’t changed. You’d hoped that as you grew older, you two would patch things up but it’s only gotten worse over the years and you barely communicate with her now.

Our mothers are our first teachers of emotional and psychological safety. If the foundation of our relationship with them is built on fear, shame, hate, unavailability, and avoidance then we are bound to develop inner child wounds that will stay with us for the rest of our adult years.

For the most part, mothers try their best to give what they can to their children – provide them with all the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. However, providence plays only a small part in meeting the emotional needs of children which are important because they shape their identities and perceptions of themselves and others. A mother wound comes from this imbalance and unmet emotional needs within you that your mother should have catered to.

Signs you have a mother wound

    1. You are so hard on yourself. You don’t feel like you do anything right. You constantly aim for perfection and when you fail to attain it, you beat yourself over it.
    2. You are a people pleaser. You don’t know how to say no (lack of boundaries). You give yourself extensively to others hoping that they will reward or validate you. You always want to know what their opinions and thoughts are. You sacrifice more than you need to.
    3. You self-sabotage a lot. You block your success and happiness. You feel guilty for achieving success so you cut the celebration off.
    4. You are either too trusting or not trusting at all. You easily believe that others have the best intentions for you or you distrust them completely.
    5. You have low self-esteem. You see yourself as unworthy. Not good enough. Not smart enough. Not beautiful enough. There’s always something you don’t like about yourself.
    6. You are co-dependent in relationships. You rely on others to meet your emotional needs because you don’t have the agency to.
    7. You need permission to exist and live a full life because you grew up asking for permission to do everything. You find it difficult to put yourself out there.
    8. You have false humility. You minimize yourself and put yourself last to put everyone else first – to be accepted or liked.
    9. You have different sides to you depending on the occasion and who you are around. You lack authenticity and you put on masks to hide who you are.
    10. You often feel lost and without purpose. You feel like you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing with your life that would be befitting what your mother would want.

Steps to Healing your mother wounds

Mother wounds stem from the vicious cycle of generational trauma passed from your grandmothers to your mom then to you. You must stand in the gap to heal them because history repeats itself very easily. Your children shouldn’t have to endure the same pain you did if you intentionally commit to doing the healing work. You may not get the love you yearn for from your mom but you can restore your broken heart and mind to a state of wholeness where you don’t approach life from a pain point. This is a step-by-step process towards healing your mother wounds;

  1. Self-awareness.

Don’t be in denial of your mother wounds. There’s no shame in having them and even talking about them. Identify the traits you have that you blame your mom for – it could be your inability to trust people or how codependent you are in your relationships. Self-awareness is recognizing the need to change and heal.

  1. Responsibility

Your mother may have hurt you but it’s your job to take charge of your healing process so that you can be free from the pain. The most your mother can do is acknowledge that she hurt you and apologize for it but that doesn’t heal your inner wounds because it took time to form them. Fully take the responsibility – and remember that you’re doing better for yourself and your children.

  1. Exploration

You will need a lot of your love and compassion here. This is where you dig deeper into your wounds and find the root cause of your trauma – who, what, where, why, how, when. It’s not easy because you’ll have to face some uncomfortable truths about your upbringing. It may help to talk to your mother about it (from a point of love, not confrontation) to understand where she’s also coming from.

  1. Understanding and forgiveness

Forgiveness is a gift to yourself, not your abuser. You don’t need to rush to forgive if it doesn’t feel natural – it will only create more resentment. Give yourself time to process your emotions and findings and once you make peace with it – release it. Forgiveness becomes easier when empathy is applied; see your mother as a human being, not a superhero who should have done everything right. She might also have just been in survival mode as she had seen with her mom. Maybe she didn’t know any better. Put yourself in her shoes and understand her from that perspective.

  1. Love and Support.

By this stage, you’ve already done the chunkier bit of healing and you should be so proud of yourself. You’ve taken yourself through the toughest emotional roller coaster and it’s time to bask in love. The love that’s available to you; from yourself, your friends, family, and even therapist. Seek the support you need to keep growing your emotional resilience. You may have also mended your relationship with your mom – celebrate that.

  1. Transformation.

Now you’re developing better coping habits, you’re working on improving yourself and you’re seeking what’s best for you. Your mother may not have changed but her actions and words no longer affect you the way they used to before the healing work began. You’re happier and more satisfied with the life you’ve created for yourself.

Healing is not an overnight process. You will not immediately heal your mother wound by reading this blog but you can give yourself the grace and time to go through each stage. We can also help you manage the process because it’s not an easy one – you need all the support you can get. Through it all; more compassions, gentleness, and love to yourself.

Lisa de Geneste, LCSW

At Langniappe, we promise you a little extra. Our goal is to assist you in bringing about lasting and positive changes to your life. The word “Langniappe” means a little extra. It is a word that many people who have grown up in the Caribbean or Louisiana know very well.

“My mother would take the band-aid off, clean the wound and say, “Things that are covered don’t heal well.” Mother was right. Things that are covered don’t heal well.”

– T.D Jakes

We look forward to working with you…