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Women's health

Self-Care Sunday with Allison: Mothering Yourself

Mother’s Day can bring up a lot of feelings, whether in the lead-up, the day of or the aftermath. Allison shares what you can do to heal if this occasion is difficult for you.

Self-Care Sunday with Allison: Mothering Yourself

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Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s installment of Self-Care Sunday with me, Allison. I’m so grateful to meet you here each month.

Today, we are going to delve into the complex issues that can arise around Mother’s Day–the lead-up, the day of, and the aftermath–and how you can work to grow, heal, and surround yourself with love if this particular occasion is a hard one for you.

Truthfully, I don’t know a person who has not had a tricky relationship with their mother at one time or another. This can exist on a spectrum of mild to traumatic, but it’s not hard to understand how and why the dynamic between a mother and their child can be fraught-it is the first and most impactful human relationship you have coming into the world.

The mother wound

You might be familiar with a current buzzword, The Mother Wound. As I understand it, this is a way of naming and claiming the part of you that has been affected by the dynamic with your mother throughout your lifetime, whether you’ve had an overbearing mother, a distant mother, a critical mother, or the loss of a mother.

But this can also extend beyond that to include aspects of the motherhood experience, such as the wound that comes with wanting to be a mother and that not coming to pass, or the wound that comes with having a difficult relationship with your child and not living up to your standards or expectations of how you feel you ought to mother.

Whatever the root cause of the wound, this idea of the mother wound is a profound and very real experience. Dr. Nicole Le Pera, otherwise known as “The Holistic Psychologist” in her online community, talks a great deal about The Mother Wound and how it is a journey to heal and unravel the patterns that you learned in that relationship to survive as a child that, perhaps, is no longer serving you in adulthood. Because it is such a deep and complex issue, working with a qualified professional if there is real trauma is something that I highly recommend.

Although I am not a therapist, through my work as a facilitator and space holder for those in my therapeutic writing workshops over the last seven years, I have witnessed firsthand how The Mother Wound is genuinely one of the most pervasive aspects of the healing journey that as human beings we can experience. I have also seen that when the person is ready to examine, confront, and release the painful parts of this experience, there can be a tremendous amount of peace on the other side.

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My own experience as a facilitator

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One such moment comes to mind from a therapeutic writing workshop I held in my backyard last summer. An incredible woman attended–strong, independent, loving, full of vigour and life. She was in the third act of her life, had lived, and had such a warmth to her that, although I was the facilitator of the experience, I felt calmed and nurtured by her presence.

When it came to the moment of the workshop when the participants were invited to share what came through in their writing exercise, I saw the mother wound come forward onto this woman, as though a chasm suddenly appeared where before it had not existed. The emotion that came up about her lifelong feelings of hurt because of what her mother had and had not been to her was so visceral that I wanted to reach across the table and take the pain away from her. It was that raw, even though her mother no longer existed on this earth.

Later, together, she participated in the burning ceremony, a part of the writing experience that I have found incredibly helpful when dealing with Big Life Issues. In the end, we drew a card from my The Rose Oracle Card Deck, which I use in all of my workshops, and this, in part, is what the card she drew– ”The Great Mother”-said:

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“We’re not meant to avoid the night, the shadow, and the winter…Hand over your worries, hurt, sorrow, fears, and doubts to The Great Mother. Lay them on Her altar. Return to the sureness of the soil. Fall fully into her arms. Surrender to the mystery woven through it all.”

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I could see the heaviness in her lift at receiving this message, as if the idea that although her biological mother had not been a place of safety for her, there was a greater presence–call it The Great Mother, the universe, her higher self, it doesn’t matter–that was there for her to rely on, to call on, and that she was not, in fact, alone. It was not as though, in that instant, all of her pain was healed or taken away.

But there was a discernible shift, a letting go of at least some of it. I will never forget the awe and gratitude I felt at getting to witness and hold space for someone confronting their own mother wound on such a deep level and getting the opportunity to understand on a deeper level how it can take a lifetime to work through, but that there is always the opportunity for that breakthrough moment where peace comes in; the light through the cracks.

Applying this to your own experience

Wherever you are in your own life when it comes to this idea of The Mother Wound–whether it be from your own experience as a mother, the relationship you have (or don’t have) with your own, or a lack thereof, the greatest practice of self-care that I can offer you in the moments when it is the hardest this month and beyond is rather than looking outside of yourself for the healing and the peace, to look inward.

Mother yourself. Do the things for yourself that you wish someone else could have or would have done. Be as gentle with yourself as you could ever want to be with another. Give yourself that love and that grace. You deserve it just for being here and getting through everything you have gained through until now.

The card of The Great Mother also said, ”At times, being human can be painful, lonely, and confusing…But at the same time, it can be incredibly glorious and sweet.”

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Perhaps that’s the whole thing: accepting and surrendering to the hard moments in life and equally accepting the ones that come in that are full of joy and ease.

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Create Your Own Writing & Burning Ceremony

If you would like to create your own burning ceremony this month to work with healing and releasing a part of your experience that is no longer serving you (whether that be with the experience of motherhood or anything else), here are the steps you can take:

  1. Find a time, at least 30 minutes, to be undisturbed. If you would rather do this with a trusted friend or partner, make sure that this person is not cynical about the experience. Consider this a sacred ritual for your own growth and healing.
  2. Get your tools: You will need a notebook that you don’t mind ripping a page out of, a pen, a lighter or matches, and a fire-proof bucket deep enough to hold a piece of paper. As an added safety measure, you can place some sand or dirt inside the bucket.
  3. Set yourself up in a private outdoor space. Settle into the moment with a brief meditation–this is a good one to work with for releasing the past–or, if you prefer, just a few minutes of deep belly breaths to help you come into the present moment.
  4. Answer this question in your notebook: What story from my life no longer serves me? What am I ready to release from this narrative to move forward with greater inner peace? Just write, allowing whatever comes through, for at least 10-15 minutes without stopping.
  5. At the end of your writing, consider sharing out loud what came through if you are in a group. Especially as women, sharing in a circle is a profound and ancient tradition. Then, write on a piece of paper what you are ready to release. Light the paper, place it safely into the bucket, and as it burns, say either in your head or out loud, “This part of my experience is now released.”
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If it feels good and supportive to you to have a more physical, somatic experience to further embody this experience of releasing and letting go, this is an excellent yoga sequence to try to cultivate self-love and healing.

Wherever you are in your journey, and however rich or complicated or emotional this month of Mother’s Day can be for you, I wish you the peace and surrender of knowing, at the very least, that you are not alone. If you need support and community, please feel free to connect with me personally, either through my newsletter or can work with me in person in my one-on-one writing sessions.

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Until next time, sending much love and care your way,

Allison

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