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Robyn Posin
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For the LIttleOnes Inside.com and CompassionateInk.com
For the LIttleOnes Inside.com and CompassionateInk.com

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Healing the Wounds of Mean Mothering
 
Part 3: Beginning the Journey of Healing the Woundedness
 
It’s sad but true that, if we didn’t get the loving mothering, valuing and acceptance we all need and deserve as children, no amount of it coming from outside can reach through the time warp to our wounded inner little ones. Only when the who we are now has developed a relationship with those little ones and is already giving that love to our selves, can others’ love come in to support our current self in that re-mothering process.
 
The work of healing from/transforming this terrible legacy begins with accepting that, at this stage of life, we must learn to provide for our selves the loving for which we yearn: it’s an inside job. It requires letting go of the hope that what we craved and continue to crave can ever come from anywhere else. As we work at this incredibly difficult and painful letting go, we simultaneously begin turning inward to listen for and to the love-starved, abandoned and neglected little ones within us.
 
Letting go of the hope of ever getting it from the outside is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. As we let go, we may feel enormous grief at the finally acknowledged, irretrievable loss. We may feel furious for having been ripped off of our birthright and for having spent so many years fruitlessly contorting our selves, looking outward instead of inward for the love and acceptance we need to thrive. These are the feelings that we have held at bay by our continuing to hope.
 
Allowing, and providing safe space for these storms of emotion as they arise and pass through us, we begin the process of turning inward, of opening our ears and our hearts to the pain of the inner little ones that we, our selves, have continued neglecting all these years. In this practice of sitting-as-two, our grown-up, functioning adult self becomes available to hear and engage with the little ones’ emotions and needs. This is the gateway to developing our capacity to lovingly re-mother these inner little ones, to developing an inner-good-mommy/caregiver.
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Healing the Wounds of Mean Mothering - A Five Part Series

Part 2: How the Wounding Happens
by Robyn L. Posin

We come into this life totally dependent, with (I and others believe) an organismic trust that we will be welcomed and loved (with what these days is called healthy attachment). When we are met with less than that, our infant selves begin adapting to preserve what little might be available. (An example from my own life: my body remembers staying quiet, lying miserably cold and wet in my crib because the one who came when I cried would jerk me about roughly with sharp poking fingernails. When I waited quietly for her to come when she felt like it, I would not be treated as roughly.)

We begin, even before we have words or concepts for it, to believe that it is our failure, our lack that is the cause of our deprivation or mistreatment. We start on the road to trying to be better/gooder girls/more of whatever we think might unlock the loving we are not getting from our mothers.

By believing it is we who are lacking, we can keep holding onto the hope that, should we only find the key, the right way to be, our mothers will finally love us as we yearn to be loved. Were we to understand that the absence of that love has to do rather with the damage in our mothers that leaves them unable to love us, we would lose all hope. To feel our helplessness, the futility of our desperate attempts to be lovable in the face of their lack of the capacity to love is too devastating to tolerate. With a convoluted kind of loyalty, we as children, and later as adults, “take the rap,” finding presumed inadequacies in our selves to account for the unloving behavior from these damaged mothers: e.g., we are too needy, too ugly, too clumsy, too fat, too stupid. Our vicious inner critics keep the myth alive and keep us ever striving and always failing to feel worthy just as we are.

Often we go on to choose partners who treat us as our mothers treated us. This affirms the myth of our unworthiness, keeping us loyal to our mother’s image: “see, no one can love me any better than she did, it must be me that’s the problem.”

on Facebook at Compassionate Ink​ or www.forthelittleonesinside.com
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Healing the Wounds of Mean Mothering - A Five Part Series

Part 1: The Toxic Legacy of Mean Mothering:

Those of us who were raised by cold, critical, emotionally or physically abusive, unavailable and/or neglectful mothers, almost inevitably find our selves tyrannized by vitriolic inner critics. These viciously undermining voices lead those of us with such histories to treating our selves in the same damaging ways our mothers have treated us.

Despite how we try or what seeming wonders we accomplish in our lives, these undermining voices keep us from ever feeling we are truly worthy or lovable. Their litany can also keep us feeling shamed and diminished by any needs we might have that we cannot deal with on our own. We feel we are never enough or else that we are too much/overwhelming. We keep searching for what magical thing we might do that could finally silence those inner voices that turn everything we do into nothing of value. Yet each such thing, once achieved, becomes valueless; the critical onslaught continues unabated.

Similarly, no matter how many other people value and love us, no matter how many accolades we garner along the way, it does nothing to invalidate the belief in our own ultimate unworthiness. As the famous Groucho Marx once suggested: “Why would I want to join any club that would have me as a member?” – we believe that anyone that treasures our flawed selves is either stupid or deranged or not seeing clearly when they value us or tell us we are lovable. It’s a terrible plight, this toxic legacy of wounding by damaged and damaging mothers that leaves us feeling so unworthy, so undeserving of love.

Those of us with this heritage are legion and, it seems, almost everywhere in the developed world. That so many women who mother are themselves so damaged,
speaks volumes about the soul-destroying cultures in which almost all women are raised.
- Robyn L. Posin
- Visit us on FB @ Compassionate Ink​ or www.forthelittleonesinside.com
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for the story, please visit:
http://forthelittleonesinside.com/applaud-your-self and
visit and like us on Facebook at Compassionate Ink
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Hearing Our Inside Voices – One Path
(The third and last piece of a series.)

The Consequences of These Influences

The pressures and prohibitions from the larger culture and from our family of origin get internalized, becoming a less than conscious template for acceptable behavior; an internalization of myriad external voices becomes a chorus drowning out our own authentic inner realities. We lose any sense of our center. When we step out of line, these internalized voices harangue us to make sure we shape up so that we’ll be safe from external retribution. These critical voices, meaning to protect us, are themselves often painfully harsh and punitive.

Freeing our selves from the tyranny of these now-internalized oppressive voices is a process that begins with observing their messages rather than taking them in, believing them and being directed by them. It helps to explore and try to identify the source/lineage of any inner voice that makes us feels diminished or not-okay. Giving each such voice a name (e.g., the hatchet lady, the judge, the slave-driver, the production manager) allows us to see our selves as separate from it.
With journaling, we can enter into dialog with each voice and uncover what purpose it believes it serves, what it fears and from what it is trying to protect us.

In this dialog, we are liberating and connecting more fully with the voice of our own wise, inner-knowing self. From this self, we can begin to address those fears, transform those undermining influences and build loving, gentle support for the truths of our own inner knowing. And, we can begin to find ways to open our hearts to the needy, upset, sad or angry parts of our selves that, till now unattended, live on hidden away inside of us.
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Hearing Our Inside Voices – One Path (The second piece of three.)

The Impact of Our Family of Origin

In addition to external societal and cultural pressures, many of us were raised in dysfunctional families by damaged caregivers. These caregivers had little or no patience, room or permission for us to be allowed to cry (“You better stop that crying before I give you something to cry about!”) or to be cranky, have a tantrum or an angry outburst (“You go to your room, young lady, until you can act civilly!”).

We have rarely gotten to experience the truth about feelings. Namely, that they are the energy of life, neither good nor bad in themselves, meant to be felt and expressed (safely). That all feelings, when allowed, have a natural trajectory: they build to a crescendo and then diminish and fall away.

Those of us raised by damaged caregivers – who often had little tolerance for the normal neediness of their children – learned very early to do without support and to believe that any needfulness was shameful. To be safe, we cut off from, suppressed or abandoned these needy, upset, sad or angry parts of our selves; unattended, they live on hidden away inside of us.

- Like Compassionate Ink/https://www.facebook.com/pages/Compassionate-Ink/205546049583807 on Facebook or www.forthelittleonesinside.com
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