mother and child holding hands

Understanding The Mother Wound: Signs, Symptoms, and Steps to Recovery

A mother’s presence is a powerful thing. It has the strength to uplift and inspire, and the potential to damage and disparage. When the mother is unavailable, critical, or not attuned to the child’s needs it plants seeds that can take years to unearth and transform. Being able to recognize and heal a Mother Wound can be a challenging process. However, with the right support and understanding you will find healing and peace.

What Is The Mother Wound? 

What is the Mother Wound and how do you know if you’ve experienced one? In this guide, you will learn how to identify the signs and symptoms. And most importantly, you will discover the steps to recovery and healing. 

Maternal trauma is a deeply personal and highly sensitive topic. Not to mention, we rarely hear about the Mother Wound in pop culture or in the press. Since it’s not talked about as much as other types of trauma or abuse, it can feel quite foreign to embrace its presence in your life. As a result, many women are experiencing these struggles in silence. 

The Mother Wound is an attachment trauma that creates a sense of confusion and devastation in the child’s psyche. It instills deeply rooted beliefs that make the child feel unloved, abandoned, unworthy of care, and even fearful of expressing themselves. Furthermore, the wound can be so strong that it unconsciously affects their adult relationships and mental health today.

Do I Have A Mother Wound?

By looking back to your childhood experience, and using it as a lens to understand your adult experience, we can begin to illuminate the answer to this question. 

Feeling belittled, abandoned, or misunderstood by your mother can feel incredibly isolating. Consequently, it makes you feel like an outsider, causes self-doubt, and makes it challenging to trust your own emotions. Due to the disorienting nature of this trauma, women often dismiss the relevance of their stories, making it hard to untangle what’s truly going on behind closed doors. 

contemplative woman

The Mother Wound can manifest as attachment issues, co-dependent patterns, depression and anxiety, disordered eating, and substance misuse. Typically, mental health challenges that are causing significant distress in daily functioning drive the adult child to seek professional support. 

Overtime, patterns in thinking, feeling, and interpersonal relationships emerge and point to a maternal trauma that needs tending to. Common traits of women who are struggling with a Mother Wound include: 

  • Paralyzing Perfectionism
  • Lack of Self Confidence
  • Self-Sabotaging Patterns in Interpersonal Relationships
  • A Cruel Inner Dialogue that Belittles and Berates
  • Lack of Motivation to Start or Complete New Projects 
  • A Deeply Rooted Feeling of Unworthiness 
  • Fear of Becoming a Mother
  • A Belief That Nothing Will Ever Be “Good Enough” 

Undoubtedly, no two experiences are the same. The way the wound manifests depends on whether the mother was absent, overbearing, or critical. If these experiences resonate with you, take this quiz to gain more clarity on whether or not you’ve experienced a mother wound. 

supportive hands

Treatment and Recovery 

There are three components to releasing the past and healing from maternal trauma: 

  1. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and behaviors to look out for
  2. The desire to do something about it
  3. A willingness to confront, heal, and persevere 

Although the first two steps are essential in releasing old wounds, the third is a deciding factor in the healing process. By combining trauma therapy with holistic techniques and group support, many women have made the journey from awareness and desire to finding lasting healing. 

Trauma Therapy 

Processing Mother Wounds can closely resemble working with complex PTSD. Due to the complex nature of this trauma, an important first step is seeking professional support from a trauma therapist. 

There are many clinical approaches that can be used to lessen the impacts of a Mother Wound. For example, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), talk therapy, and narrative parts work uncover insights about the wound. By reconnecting with your childhood experience, you gain the language needed to rewrite your story. Moreover, you find freedom from the limiting beliefs that are causing you suffering. 

Holistic Techniques

Complex traumas, such as a Mother Wound, respond best to holistic techniques. In particular, grounding exercises, guided meditations, mantras, and therapeutic art activities are important tools to incorporate. Building an integrative toolbox of self-care practices and coping skills will prepare you to remain grounded in your highest self as you embark on the healing journey. 

journaling helps process the mother wound

Group Support

Connecting with other women who can understand and validate your experience is a powerful way to find acceptance and self compassion. Without a doubt, hearing others’ stories empowers us to share and process our own. Whether it’s in the form of a therapy group, support group, or an online course that combines holistic techniques with group support, the impact will be the same. 

The good news is that there is a well of support for women who have experienced a Mother Wound. This common experience affects people of all ages and walks of life. So, no matter where you’re starting from there are many ways to find healing and empowerment.

finding freedom from the mother wound

It’s normal to feel a sense of loss or grief when you begin to accept that you’ve experienced a Mother Wound. With the right help and support system in place, it’s completely possible to move forward and find lasting healing. Above all, this important work will empower you to love yourself, form healthy relationships with others, and create a future filled with joy. 

Are you interested in deepening your understanding of The Mother Wound? If you’re ready to find freedom from its impact, the Daughters of Critical Mothers eCourse might be for you. Click here to learn more.   

About The Author: 

Mari Grande is a New York City-based licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Clinical Social Worker, Thought Leader, Educator, and Coach with more than 20 years of experience in trauma healing and recovery. By working closely with the mind/body connection, attachment theory, and the power of creativity, she draws upon her integrative background to alleviate the impacts of relational and generational trauma. Mari is passionate about working with women who have experienced a Mother Wound, and offers various online courses that provide guidance, support, and insight for Daughters of Critical Mothers. 



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