Each of us still has a desire to be loved and nurtured. The first relationship we all have is with our mothers and this relationship and our need for love shapes our lives.
We may lose our mother's physical and emotional love through death, estrangement or abandonment through the need to be loved, cared for and nurtured remains. Love is what we all seek in our significant other relationships.
Other people who have shown you ‘a mothers love’ in the past, could include other family members, friends of your mother or mothers of your friends. Perhaps you had a nanny or hired help or other family member to raise you and so were supported and shown tender loving care from another woman.
Many women I have worked with told me it was their family pet who gave them unconditional love – the animal noticing when they were sad and comforting them. Love might well come from other sources too such as meeting with groups of like-minded friends. Social media also does a wonderful job of helping people feel less alone and there are groups for just about everything which connect people together (see meetup.com).
In the UK, we have many women’s groups where females meet, support and encourage each other. Whatever country you are in, a simple internet search will reveal what’s on in your local area as well as telling you about international and national groups you can join. Some of the meetings are for business networking though many are simply groups of women from different areas meeting up for a coffee and chat and they can go on to form meaningful friendships. Why not find out what’s going on in your town, city and country and get exploring or perhaps consider setting up your own group or women’s circle.
Children are rarely taught ‘self-love’ but as adults we can learn how to best care for ourselves. It’s unrealistic as an adult daughter to place all our needs on our mothers or project them onto significant other relationships. When we begin to learn how love can be found from other sources (and indeed within ourselves) we can take the pressure off our mothers and simply enjoy being with her on new terms, accepting what she can offer and expecting nothing more.
Betty’s Words of Wisdom - A case study for Mothers and Daughters, the book
‘‘I guess I’m kind of old school; I really wanted my mother to devote herself to me and make me the centre of her world. I’ve always had an expectation she would protect me against life’s hardships, the frustrations, the losses and despair. We both had the same needs; she wanted the love of a mother who wasn’t there for her, as did I. The reality when I bring myself up to date is I couldn’t be her mother and she couldn’t be mine.
Working through my mother stuff has actually been easier than I thought it would be. Now I know about my mother’s past, how her mother treated her and how for most of her life she never moved beyond the need for a mother’s love, I actually get her, I now understand her needs and demands from me.
All I can say is, I’m so very blessed to have my wonderful female friends who I know I can call in the middle of the night if need be, they have been my rocks in times of need. My mother had no one to help her through the mess of understanding her mother or finding love within herself or from others.
Every day I count my blessings and I’m grateful for my friends who I love and I know who love me. I also know if my friends aren’t available I still have little old me to fall back on. In fact there’s nothing I like better than pleasing myself and doing what I want when I want to do it and giving to myself my own unconditional love.
There is so much freedom in parenting yourself. If I feel like a day off from it I’m lazy, but most of the time I treat myself like a princess. I know my worth without the need for external validation’’
Inner Mother and Other Mother Figures
She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay - H. Raven Rose
Although it may not always be easy to find, there is a gift in every situation. The gift, however painful your past may have been, is often the gift which will go on and change not only your life, but the lives of others in a very positive way.
Perhaps because of your own unique experiences, you have indirectly been able to parent yourself and are strong, confident, assertive, and forward thinking, empathic, caring and understanding. Much of your past and the lessons learnt may have made you more self-aware, nurturing, considerate, welcoming, compassionate, loving, independent, supportive or wise. Take some time to reflect on your character traits, attributes and abilities not only as a daughter but as the wonderful woman you are. What nurturance skills have you found yourself developing which have helped you get through your most difficult times?
Thinking about some of the missing events in your childhood, what do you wish your mother had said to you to make you feel better? You may never have heard these words from anyone, though I offer to you a range of statements which will aid you in becoming your very own ‘inner mother.’ You can add to the list of suggestions, the words you need to hear which will help you through the hard times. It will be helpful for you to get into the habit of self-soothing and talking to yourself in this way.
· I’m here for you
· What’s wrong?
· How can I help you?
· What do you need right now?
· I love you
· I will never let you go
· I’m right beside you
· I will support you
· You matter to me
· I care for you
Whatever you feel in any given moment no matter how hurtful, is an opportunity for further healing. When you feel grief, despair, sadness, regret, anger or frustration, it’s often connected with the child part of you who didn’t have her needs met for whatever reason. Now, as an adult, you can re-parent yourself by becoming your very own inner-mother who listens, comforts, supports, encourages and nurtures you.
If it’s a hug you need, wrap your own loving arms around yourself. If it’s warmth you need, take a luxury bath or enclose yourself in soft blankets. If it’s anger you need to express use EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) go for a run, jump on a mini trampoline, journal or do some expressive art work.
If it’s love you need, what can you do for yourself to show yourself more love? Will it be to give yourself the time, love and attention, to get well? A massage, a swim, a walk in nature to clear your head, or writing a letter to yourself in recognition of your strengths, gifts and attributes. You can choose whatever you need, moment by moment and as your needs change you can make new choices.
There are so many ways we can nurture ourselves as adults, no longer do we need to look for love outside of ourselves. If love is offered, it adds to our lives and if it’s taken away we are still ok because we have our own love 24 hours a day.
Mutual mothering is an option
Many daughters have amazing friends who take on the mother role naturally without being asked. It’s the female friends we make along the way who support us and care for us through friendship and we feel held, supported, nurtured and loved by their presence.
Think about the female friends you have in your life.
· How long have you known your female friends?
· Where did you meet?
· What connected you together?
· How has the friendship served each of you?
· What do you value the most about your friendship?
· When you are in the presence of your closest friends how you do feel?
· What qualities do your friends have that you would have liked your mother to have?
· How has having these friendships benefitted you long-term?
· What do you believe about yourself in relation to your friends? I.e. I’m loved, cherished, supported, held dear etc
Love does come from other sources and we may not realise how valued we are in our female friendships or how much love and care we offer to our friends. If you wish to connect with other women on the same path as yourself, you might like to find a local women’s support group close to you, or consider setting one up so you can support each other. If you would like to work with me and gain some one to one support, contact to discuss your needs and range of support programmes.
It sounds corny, but I’ve promised my inner child that never again will I abandon myself for anything or anyone else again - Wynonna Judd