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Mother Wounds-Benjamin Zulu

The reason you may suffer in your mother wounds for life is that the world has a conspiracy of silence concerning the pain caused by mothers. They want to maintain the fantasy of all mothers being angels. Any time you try to speak of how your mother may have hurt you they gaslight you with ‘Your mother is still your mother. She carried you for nine months. She felt pain giving birth to you. Be appreciative of that and overlook any other ‘shortcomings.’

But still, while we appreciate all the loving and self-conscious mothers, we cannot ignore the fact that not all of them are healthy and intentional about healing their own wounds.

Some mothers are extremely abusive and toxic and because of them, you may never experience a happy life if you don’t aggressively seek healing.

The worst part is that she first isolates you from support by having double standards both at home and in the community. She may treat you very differently from other siblings, for reasons you cannot understand. But usually, it’s because you shine the most and you trouble her demons the most. Or it may be a petty reason like being named after or looking like, another woman she hates. Her mother or her husband’s mother.

Or you may be your dad’s favourite. Or visitors may congratulate you too much. Or you may be the kind that asks questions and unknowingly challenges a very egotistical woman.

As a result, she body shames you. She picks you apart at every opportunity. She compares you unfavourably with other children. She accuses you falsely and blatantly. She makes you feel like your head is bursting with confusion and frustration.

As a child, you yearn for acceptance and unconditional love but when you turn in her direction you only get emotional distance and coldness.

So you learn to try and win her approval. Or at least to avoid the punishments. You predict her moods and adjust. If she was abandoned or abused by her husband you become the comforter or scapegoat. You step in to perform her duties without even being asked. She appears relieved and somehow pleased with you. You begin to live for that.

So you work double to perform both your duties and hers, and yet you’re just a child. Imagine other children coming from school to do their homework in the evening before taking bath, eating supper and then going to bed. And that’s their regular schedule. But for you, you have to hurry home and prepare the dinner, get livestock back to the shades after watering them of course. Clean the house and set table for everyone, make your dad’s herbal tea and put the young child to bed.

Only after that can you catch a breather. In bed, that is. You always sleep after everyone and wake up ahead of everyone.

And that’s a primary school kid.

Relatives call you ‘responsible’ when you’re just abused and parentified. This distortion separates you from yourself and converts you into a mix of a child and an adult. You cannot relax and play because you have to watch your siblings to make sure they’re safe.

Working for approval becomes your normal, and you transfer it to other relationships in your adult life.

You also end up with needy and troubled people because instability is familiar to you.

Overthinking becomes your norm because predicting and avoiding trouble is how you grew up. As a result, you rack your head over every little thing until you’re never at ease.

You develop hyperacidity, anxiety and dysthymia or low-key depression when you’re very young.

By the time you’re getting married your parameters for choosing a partner are exactly what your mother made you: codependent. And so you marry another abuser par excellence. And this initiates another round of damage. Fifty-fifty you may come out, fifty-fifty you may die there.

And still, the world says nothing.

Solution? Affirm your truth and start mothering your inner child. Back then you wanted a grown-up to love you, now you are an adult. Assure your inner child that they’re safe now, loved, and no longer alone. You may need to do a lot of processing and letter writing to dig yourself up from the grave of guilt and shame that your mother pushed you into, but with the intention you can do it. Remember you don’t need to confront her on every point or even send the letters. All you need to do is to pour out the pain and reclaim your voice. Your therapist will help you through this.

Whatever you do, do not gaslight yourself by denying your pain anymore.

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