Before we jump into this week’s episode, I want to remind you of the Virtual Open House this Tuesday, March 29th at 1 pm eastern time (10 am pacific) where I’ll be covering the nuts and bolts of the Daring Way™ curriculum, answering any questions about the retreat I’ll be hosting in September, and doing a book giveaway! Simply click HERE to add it to your calendar (everything, including the link will be added!), or when it’s time, HERE is your Zoom link.
This week I am talking to Bethany Webster about the mother wound. Bethany says, “When we are children and our mothers harm us, they are to blame. They are adults and are responsible for us. But as we grow up and turn into adults, it then becomes our responsibility to do the healing within ourselves. If you can walk the path of healing the mother wound and inner mothering, the rewards are so rich.”
Bethany is a writer, international speaker, and transformational coach. She started blogging in 2013 about the Mother Wound and quickly experienced worldwide demand for her work. Through blending research on intergenerational trauma, feminist theory, and psychology with her own personal story, Bethany's work is the result of decades of research and her own journey of healing.
If you have a great relationship with your mother, don’t turn this episode off! Even if you have or had a good relationship with her, we can still struggle with some mother-wounding. Tune into this episode to hear about what the mother wound is and how to begin to heal from it.
We talk about:
- Bethany explains what the mother wound is and where it comes from. (5:06)
- Healing the four layers of the mother wound. (7:25)
- The cost of avoiding the mother wound and what prevents women from healing it. (13:47)
- How to heal the mother wound without mother-blaming. (20:14)
- What to do if/when your mother responds with “Oh, so it’s always my fault?” (36:53)
- Bethany’s experience with estrangement from her mother. (39:24)
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Join me for The Daring Way Retreat Open House! March 29th at 1 pm ET. I'll be going over the curriculum and doing a Q&A.
Apply for Private Coaching with Andrea or her team.
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Bethany Webster is a writer, international speaker and transformational coach. She started blogging in 2013 about the Mother Wound and quickly experienced worldwide demand for her work. Through blending research on intergenerational trauma, feminist theory, and psychology with her own personal story, Bethany's work is the result of decades of research and her own journey of healing. Bethany speaks, consults and mentors around the world sharing her growing body of work that is raising the standard of women’s leadership and personal development. Learn more at www.bethanywebster.com
The great news is that as we heal our mother wound, the benefits enrich every area of our lives because we're dealing with our blueprint of self and as we transform that, it's like the center of the wheel, when we transform that core linchpin, every area benefits.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast episode number 438, with guest Bethany Webster.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insights to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast, I am so glad that you are here. We are continuing our conversation on healing different modalities of therapy. I think that this is the longest series of all of the different topics I'm going to do this year. I don't know if I just am biased towards this topic. There were so many experts that I wanted to talk to and have you hear about the specialties that they have. Hence, having a lot of them. I'm sure you don't mind. Today is no exception. We are talking to Bethany Webster and she is an expert on the mother wound. And for those of you that have great relationships with your mother, don't turn it off, don't turn this episode off. I do think that even if we have a good relationship with our mothers, or if your mother has passed, if you had a good relationship with her when you were an adult, I think many times we can still struggle with some mother wounding. So this is a great conversation for you to listen to that I had with Bethany.
Again, my goal with these episodes, is to look at all the nuances within our healing. All these specific challenges that many of you struggle with. So I have a feeling it's really helpful. I would love to hear from you. If you are liking them, you can always just hit reply to one of the emails that I send out as well as you can DM me on Instagram.
Alright, this is a quick reminder that next week on March 29, let me double check that I have the right day on that. It is Tuesday, March 29 at one o'clock Eastern time, I am going to have a virtual open house for any of you that are interested in either the Daring Way retreat that I am going to host this September in North Carolina. Or if you are interested in doing the curriculum with me one on one, I do it privately with clients too, then I would suggest that you come to this if you can. It will be recorded if you if you miss it, if you're on my email list, you will get that recording to you. We are going to talk to someone who has been through the curriculum. Her name is Jessica. She's also going to be my assistant there at the retreat. Jessica has been so positively impacted by this work and she loves to tell anybody that she can about it and she's just really great people. So she'll be there to answer any questions. I will be there to give you a sneak peek at the curriculum. I'm also going to show the introduction video that is hosted by Brené. By the way, you guys did you see that? There's a new HBO special with Brené that comes out at the end of March? I cannot wait that's based on Atlas of the Heart. I am just ecstatic about that. Anyway, March 29 is the virtual open house. If you go to the show notes, there's a link that you just click on it and it will automatically put it into your calendar and the Zoom link will be there. Or you can just put it in your calendar, March 29 at one o'clock Eastern and then go to AndreaOwen.com/meet and there will be the Zoom link for you to join us. Alright, I hope to see you there.
And for those of you that don't know Bethany, let me tell you a little bit about her. Bethany Webster is a writer, international speaker and transformational coach. She started blogging in 2013 about the mother wound and quickly experienced worldwide demand for her work. Through blending research on intergenerational trauma, feminist theory and psychology with her own personal story Bethany's work is the result of decades of research and her own journey of healing. Bethany speaks, consult and mentors around the world sharing her growing body of work that is raising the standard of women's leadership and personal development. So without further ado, here is Bethany.
Bethany, thank you so much for being here today.
It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.
You know, you were asking me before we started recording, you know, like, what, what made you interested in having me on the show and talking about, about the mother wound and I'm all for like, let's talk about specific things that people can hopefully bring to their therapist. I was gonna say, hopefully see in themselves, maybe not hopefully, like, I don't know, wish mother wounds on people, but I can't wait to dig in a little bit with you. And my first question is like, let's just start from the very beginning for people who, you know, I think people have heard the phrase mother wound but don't really know what it means. Can you take us through what that is and your words, and where does it come from?
Yes, totally. The mother wound was a phrase that I had seen a couple of times, in my own, like, personal help, you know, self-help journey. But no one had ever really defined, you know, what the mother wound is or developed a theory around it. And having gone through my own really profound, deep journey of tensions and stress and trauma with my own mother, I was in depth therapy, I think for over 10 years by the time I really went as deep as I could with my own mother. And as I went through it, I was like, why isn't anyone talking about the mother wound? This is this is actually something that's universal for women, especially women living in a in patriarchal cultures, which is most of the world these days, and some degree. So I started blogging about in 2013 and at the time, you couldn't find the word mother wound on the internet. It was something that I kind of just started writing about to really primarily to help myself understand what I had gone through and to kind of help consolidate my own theory of what I had been going through and what all women go through to some degree. And initially, I was really scared to start talking about it, because is, and definitely was even more so back then. In 2013, for sure, a taboo topic to talk about stress or tension or difficult emotions with our mothers.
Well then on a personal level, like if you still have a relationship with your mother… can be a little awkward, I'm assuming.
Oh, no, I don't have contact with my mother. Okay. Yeah, yeah, no, I'm one of these women that had a very severe mother wound so I had to go the no contact journey. I talked about this in my book. Yeah, so I developed my own theory and my own definition of what the mother wound is. And the basic definition… I actually have four levels to the mother wound that I as I define it, and the first one is the personal level of the mother wound. And that is, any limiting patterns and beliefs that we hold about ourselves, that originated from our relationship with our mothers and the dynamics that were in that specific relationship. So it's basically the limiting… The ways in which we've been conditioned to limit and sabotage ourselves as a means to stay safe, get approval, and be loved.
So is that kind of like, if your mother told you, it's the most important for you to, like, meet a good man when you go to college and like…that, kind of, like advice that many of us get?
No, no, it does include that. But it's even deeper than that. It's like, how you see yourself and how you've learned to either like hide yourself, become invisible. Like for example, in my example, in my situation, it was more like I learned to people please, I learned to hide my feelings, I learned… So it's more it's it's can be related to different contexts, like career or beliefs about our bodies or beliefs about men or beliefs about sexuality. It can be context specific, but it's, it's really deeper than that. It's how we see and feel ourselves. Like our sense of self.
And the really exciting thing about it, even though it's it can be a very damaging experience, depending upon what we went through. The great news is that as we heal our mother wound, the benefits enrich every area of our lives, because we're dealing with our blueprint of self. And as we transform that it's like the center of the wheel, when we transform that core linchpin, every area of benefits. And that's one of the most inspiring things about it on my own journey and as I work with a coach and teacher of other women with this work, is that as I see women work on the mother wound, every area changes as a byproduct of that.
Yeah, I'll bet okay. So the first level is a personal level. So what is the second level of the mother wound?
The second level is the cultural level of the mother wound. So it It's really about patriarchal culture. And I think this is the really unique angle that I bring to my work. A lot of women have been talking about, obviously clinicians and therapists have been talking about mother daughter relationships for ages but I don't think the patriarchal component has really been identified and analyzed as deeply as I have brought that to it. So it's about how that atmosphere, and I want to use the word patriarchy, it's a very general definition that I hold, which is basically, that we live in a culture that sees women as less than. So it's like how that atmosphere of female inferiority damages the relationship between mother and daughter and kind of, you know, patriarchy is about power over and domination, those principles are really everywhere in our culture. And so how they filter down into the mother daughter relationship is where there's this like tension between being loved and being powerful. And because our society and culture doesn't allow women and actually fears women in power, it that actually impacts what we see in our culture, you know, in shows and movies and songs about women. So it's like the more cultural mother wound how we all have it, to some degree, because we see women as less than.
The third level of the mother wound is the spiritual mother wound. And this is about, you know, I came to this realization as I was going through a lot of my own work with my own mother, that as I healed, on the personal level, I started to feel more and more connected spiritually, feeling like, I was like, wow, I really feel like I belong in my body now, I feel like I'm connected with life in a deeper way. So it's like this sense of belonging, connection and oneness with all life. So there's an attachment bond with life itself, that we are part of the family of life, if you want to call it that. It's amazing to witness how as we work with a mother wound that that block or sense of separation with a higher power begins to dissolve. And we can, we can have not just a conceptual realm of like, okay, I'm part of life, I'm part of the whole, but that becomes an actual visceral living reality, a direct realization. So that's what the spiritual mother wound is.
And then the fourth level is the planetary mother wound. And that's related to how the Earth itself is a mother, and is our mother, we come from her, we are part of her, and kind of we, you know, healing that relationship as well. Feeling that sense of responsibility, that sense of awe and connection with the earth is part of our own bodies. So it's an intimacy with a planet, and a sense of deep connection and responsibility towards her. So these are the four levels and they're all related and they're operating on these different levels. And the most important one, though, is that personal level, because if we try to skip and go to the spiritual mother wound, you know, we try to bypass our trauma, we can't help but necessarily project those wounds onto the earth on, you know, other people and what we bring to the world in our work as well.
Oh, my God, I have so many questions. Okay. Okay.
I know it's a big, it's a big thing, right?
It is. Partly for my own selfish reasons. And like, like full transparency, a lot of times I bring experts on because I'm like, okay, I need you to help me.
Oh, yeah, great.
Alright, I do want to ask, like, what is the cost, you know, without scaring people, like, what is the cost of avoiding that mother wound? Like, I know, you talked a little bit about how it can manifest, you know, when we have these unloved, unhealed wounds. But I mean, what prevents I guess the better question is What prevents women from healing it?
There's a lot of things that prevent women from healing it. Fortunately, now, there's been a growing awareness and interest in this work, which is really encouraging. But the things that typically stop women from looking at this and I include myself in that for years, I also didn't want to look at this issue at all, but usually, it's a fear of being angry at your mom, a fear of being an ungrateful daughter. A lot of us come from families that, to different degrees, family loyalty and obedience are extremely valued. And, you know, dysfunctional families are difficult because individuality and questioning the system is really discouraged. And it can be, you know, if you could risk exile, you know by…
Which is very real fear.
It's a very real fear. And so what often happens is that there's a tension that develops where the suffering that we are enduring because of the mother wound becomes really intense and there's like this shift that happens, where it's like, well I can no longer sacrifice my well-being for these illusions and for these patterns that I know aren't working. And so the balance flips to where it becomes more important to heal than it is to maintain some kind of status quo, whether it's cultural or familial. So it's like this tension of growing. I think now, more and more women are, we're living in a time where we're seeing what isn't working? You know, whether it's family beliefs, the kind of worldview we grew up in, or the, you know, some of the patterns in our families that might be kind of power over or full of conflict, or trauma. Women are really, I think, feeling the call to, like, address it more than ever.
So I think but I think most of it if we, we want, we're afraid, it's really a fear of what will happen to me if I break the status quo, if I go a different way, if I really speak out, if I really value myself. Am I risking abandonment? Am I resilient enough to go through that, because at the beginning of the journey, we never know if our relationship with our moms are going to get better or worse. It's inherently risky, but it's really the courageous work that must be done to you know, break these cycles of intergenerational wounding, between with women, you know, because a lot of the wounding we have with our mothers, we bring to other female friendships, as well as romantic relationships, and relationships with our children, relationships with our bosses, or employees or what have you. So because it's the blueprint of self, there's a very, very high cost to not addressing the work.
Now another fear that women have is the fear of, oh, my God, you know, am I doing something wrong? Like there's a fear of something is so big being uncovered that could bring up shame or guilt. I know a lot of moms that I've talked to were like, I really want to work on this, that I'm really afraid of what I'm going to discover about maybe if I've damaged my own kids inadvertently. So that's a normal fear as well, like a reframe, that I helped to bring around those fears is that a lot of the struggles that we have related to the mother wound are really, they start out in childhood is just very innocent coping mechanisms, right? That we had to use to survive a dysfunctional family and so they actually serve us in many ways, even something like shame. Shame is like the center… Shame and despair are really the center of the mother wound and so we build these defenses and different like coping mechanisms and patterns of behavior that helped us survive that terrain. But then as we become adults, it becomes extremely confining and creates more and more suffering. So there's a tension, as I mentioned earlier, to like break these patterns. And part of that is not blaming the self not going into the self-judgment or self-recrimination but pivoting towards that compassion of, you know, we were only children coping and we didn't know any better. And that makes it I think, kind of, greases the wheel a little bit towards change is putting it in that context of you were just a child, you didn't know any better, you're ready now, some people never get ready. Some people pass away, and they never come to awareness and consciousness of, you know, the programming they receive done.
So it's really amazing, and a powerful, momentous moment in our lives, when we start to feel that like, I'm really ready to look at what I've inherited, what I've taken in and transform that. And that's really what self-actualization is about and that's really what the transformation here is, is it's all about love. It's all about learning how to mother, that child inside of you, feeling that mother gap. Whatever you didn't get from your own mother and learning to transform that within yourself first. And I teach a practice called inner mothering where has very specific kind of guidance on how to do that over time. It's like a new habit, like creating a default pattern in your brain and it's very much a brain-based thing. It's like creating new pathways, new default patterns. With time we become more authentic, and as women we become more sovereign, and I love that word sovereignty because it's about really self-ownership, deep responsibility, but also a deep sense of calm and authority over what's right and best for you.
Yeah, I just, oh my gosh, I love all everything you said. And you know, at the end, you're talking about creating new patterns and you know, it sounds like a new skill set for behaving in ways that are more authentic of ways that we are proud of that are in more alignment with our values and the woman we want to become. I have been trying to do that for 25 years.
Yeah. It takes time
It's not that I feel inauthentic or that I'm acting away that I feel not proud of. Like none of that I'm thinking, especially because you're talking about mothers and I think about my own mom, and how it's interesting that one of the things that people, including myself, have always admired her for is her strength and tenacity, and her no bullshit attitude and her unwillingness to put up with anyone crossing her. Which can be good. If I know where I'm going with this. On the downside of that is a lot of distrust, a bit huge lack of compassion. And just, you know, it also, I think that generation, like I hate stereotyping, but I think some stereotypes are, there's some truth to some of them and it's and it's that generation of that rugged individualism of you know, my mom was born… My mom was born during World War Two, and was not easy. She's one of 11 children, it was not easy. So she's, so she builds up this just tenacious spirit. And I see so much of myself. And the parts where I have to pause, you know, when I get passive aggressive towards my husband, when I get short tempered with my children, and I see a lot of my mother in that and I'm like, oh shit. So it's a I believe so much in this work.
Which brings me to my next question, because you mentioned it a little bit previously about mother blaming. So tell us… I would love for you to answer this, if you can kind of twofold, how can women begin to heal the mother wound without mother blaming? And how can women learn to listen to their children, I'm assuming that they would be you know, later teens, young adult children who are bringing their concerns to their mother, their conversations or boundaries, things that they want to talk about with their their moms. Like how do we… Because I'm… Bethany, I'm bracing myself for that conversation, like my know that my children are going to eventually have things that they bring to their therapist about me no matter how hard I tried to break the patterns. So anyway, no, that's a big two-pronged question so I'm going to give you the pulpit and tell us about mother blaming.
Yeah, totally. Mother blaming is something that everyone you know, is afraid of. We live in a society that has a very wounded relationship with women, and mothers especially. So women, mothers are seen as either all good or all bad. They're either blamed for everything, or they're like put on this pedestal of like sainthood. So that puts a child and adult child in a totally impossible bind, because there's no way that you can be seen as an individual there without looking like you're blaming the mother. But mother blame is really, I think I talked about this in my book, that it's really kind of like a dragon at the gate of your own power. Because if you believe that voice of I'm only blaming my mother, when I want to heal, then you won't access your power. We have to be able to feel that fear, but reframe it and look at it differently. And I think many generations of the past, it's very much in place, like don't question your mother. Don't even you know, your bad if you have anything but love for her. But I think that's changing, I feel that softening a lot. And I think the lens with which to look this work through is not that it's mother blame, because it's really not, it's really ultimately not even about our mothers. In the end, it's really about how can I be my best self, what have I inherited and taken on or accumulated in terms of beliefs and patterns that aren't that are causing me suffering? You know, and like generations of the past, like you were saying, your mom grew up in World War Two. During a lot of struggles of earlier times there wasn't a luxury of like self-help, or nor even a, like a public consciousness around psychology and child development. Like those are kind of recent, you know, human endeavors, relatively speaking. So I really advise people to think about it that way, that it's not really about your mother's. It's not about making anyone wrong. It's really about taking responsibility. And we can't take responsibility for our behavior in the world if we don't look at where it comes from. Like, how did I become who I am? Why do I do certain things that I do? So it's really about personal growth, breaking any painful cycles of intergenerational trauma that we might be unwillingly perpetuating, and we can't heal from what we don't own. Yeah, so that's really what it comes down to. Some people are ready for that some people are not. But I always say it's not mother blame. And if anyone says, oh, you're just blaming the mother, those are probably the people that really need to do the motherhood work and they're just not ready. You know, some people are just not ready. So I think.
And then now going to what you're talking about with a mother. All of us heal at the level of our daughterhood. I know, some of you who are listening might be moms, and some of you might not be moms. And a lot of women come to me and say, I'm a mother, and I don't want to pass along what my mother, you know, modeled for me, you know, I want to break the pattern, I want to do things differently. And what I tell them is that the best thing you can do to… And you will pass stuff along, like there's no, you will pass some measure of something along, so don't worry about that, because it's gonna happen. And it's more about just like mitigating like, narrowing down. Lightening the load if you want to say your kids. And the best thing you can do is to work on what you went through on your own mother wound, because it's kind of illustrates exactly what I just said, which is, if we don't work on our own mother wound as mothers, we are just passing along exactly what we got. And that's not a fault of yours. It's just simply how we're made up as humans. It's biology, like we, our development was shaped our brains were shaped with our early interactions with our caregivers. And so we can't help but pass it along. So it's really about becoming conscious, you know, becoming curious, like, what are the patterns in my life that repeat themselves and that caused a lot of stress for me? That's an opening question that you can start to look at where the mother wounds shows up for you. Like, what is it about my child that triggers me? Like, what are the things that come up a lot with my kid and how does that relate to what I went through with my own mother. And that's a question to also think about.
But what the real goal is, is to develop a relationship, some degree of a relationship, with your own little child inside your own inner child. What I've seen over time is that when women start to nurture their own inner child, and fill that mother gap from within themselves, they automatically become more emotionally available for their own child, right? So it starts with, really the little girl inside of you, because she's pulling, she's calling the shots, but it's unconscious. So the more we can become conscious of what the inner child is going through, what those triggers are, where they come from, then they can be addressed, then there can be like, help given to that child. Like for example, I can give you an example. With my own mother, she had a very difficult upbringing, where she was parentified, meaning she was an older child of six kids, she had to take care of her siblings, there was some alcoholism in the family. So she never really got to feel like a little girl. And then when she had me, oldest child, she didn't realize this, I'm sure of it. She wasn't conscious of it. But I kind of became her little mother, and she parentified me because that's what she went through. But I also got kind of robbed of childhood in the same way that she did.
So what was happening there was that her inner child's deprivation was dominating and shaping the relationship with her own daughter. So it's like becoming… And it's not about being a perfect mother or being you know, as we heal, I know, we all want to be perfect, we want to do right by the kids in our lives. The best we can do is just prioritize it and commit to becoming as conscious as possible of our patterns. And I think that's what kids really need. They don't need perfect, you know, parents who do everything, right. They need parents who are on the path, you know, mothers who are like, actively on their healing journey and always on that, like, I'm gonna fail forward and keep doing my best, you know? And that models to a child a really beautiful, like humility and resilience and courage and compassion, you know, that they can bring back to that relationship with the parent in the future.
Yeah. And it makes me think of something that that I do and I don't know if this is helpful or not, and you can maybe kind of critique something I do and hopefully it helps for people. It but I have a 14 year old son and a 12 year old daughter. And especially with my daughter, I noticed that she’s the one who you know, in a comparison of the two she's always been the one who loves to be around people. Like she really likes to be entertained, just loves to be… Is the more… I wouldn't even call her more extroverted one, she just even as a baby did not ever want to be alone. So I don't get a whole lot of alone time. So when she consistently interrupts me as she does, I think part of it is my ADHD that just like makes me want to crawl out of my skin. And also, like, I need some alone time and tend to set boundaries around it. But here's what I have found that I do, and I noticed I start to sound irritated with her when she interrupts me in my office for like, the third time in 15 minutes with something about her iPad. And I can tell, you know, she'll say like, nevermind, and she'll leave. And then I immediately remember what that feels like, as a child to feel like you are a burden to either one of your parents, and then I'm like, oh, my God. So what I have started doing is instead of asking her, does it bother you when I do that, because usually, she's going to say no, because she is a people pleaser, you know. As much as I have tried and as much as I am a feminist, she's a child…culture, and has learned that right? So I asked her, what goes through your head when I get short with you about that. And so I admit that I have acted…. So it's a kind of twofold, like, I've admitted that I've acted in a way that I'm not proud of, and then I'm, you know, she kind of knows I'm about to apologize, probably and it's an open ended question. It's not a yes or no question. I'm asking her like, what do you think about that? Or how, you know, how do you feel about that? And it opens up a conversation and as difficult as it is for me to hear her answer, that it hurts her. And you know, we end up having a conversation, but it…. And this is only sort of recently that I've started doing that with her. I'm trying to foster a relationship with her and my son, but it looks a little bit different with him. That that she knows that these conversations are safe. Because I didn't get them. I didn't get that right, ever. I mean, just now at almost 47, my mom's 80. Just now we are tiptoeing into those kinds of conversations.
So I guess from your reaction that I'm doing something, okay.
Yeah, no, I think it is okay. And I think it's great that you're opening up that any way you can, like, open up the doorway of communication and give your daughter the message. Like, I'm really curious, I care how you feel and then following up with whatever she says, with empathy and validation, right? That sounds like the tricky part is hearing something that's hurtful as a parent, but then being able to have enough of yourself that you cannot take it personally, right? You know, but really just be like, Yes, that makes so much sense to me, you'd feel that way.
And, try not to give her a bunch of excuses, which I want to do, but, and some of them are valid, which she does. She just doesn't understand that, you know, she's 12. She doesn't understand the responsibilities of working and being an adult and things like that.
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And this is what I hear a lot from the women in my community who have tried to have you know, adult women who have tried to have a conversation with their mother about things that have hurt them, or that they're talking about with their therapist, and their mother responds with, oh, I guess just everything is my fault. You know, it's like the martyrdom and like, well, I guess just blame me for everything. What did I do this time? So what is your advice for those types of situations? Is it a matter of like trying another angle or just not talking about it? Or what is your… What are your thoughts about that?
Yeah. Yeah, a lot of women have always asked me like, should I talk to my mother. And I like to say that it's really an art. There's an art to it, because timing is important. And the most important part of it, I think, is not actually the conversation, per se, or her response. Those are secondary. What's most important is the prep work that you do. So I like to set people up for success and advise that to have a successful conversation with your mom it's really about you and you. And the best way you can prepare for that is to just process ahead of time, like why do I want to have this conversation? What do I want to communicate? What's important for me to say, no matter what she responds with? And it's such a great exercise to do it, to have a conversation with your mom, even when it doesn't go wedll. The act of speaking up for yourself is a profound act of sovereignty. And it's because it's about speaking up for the little girl in you who did not have a voice. So you become that healthy woman that you didn't have that you need it as a child. You become the spokesperson for the silenced child and you. So even just the act of it is a success. The times when it can be really disappointing, is if you go in looking to convince your mother of something, or…
You're really hoping that you're going to get an apology and like…
Yeah, exactly, exactly. So I talk in my work, I teach about the impossible dream, which is the impossible dream that our mothers will one day change into the mother we've always longed for, if we just say things the right way, or do it the right way, you know, find that special, something that gets our mother to become who we want her to be. That's really a survival mechanism of a child. It's like that false hope that gets us through the dysfunctional childhood. But as we reach the dry land of adulthood, we have to kind of take stock and realize that our mothers probably won't change. And so the healing comes from detaching from that outcome. You know, like letting go of like that need for our mothers to be different. That's actually the work that I teach so that women can be like, well, no matter what happens with my mom, I know I'm okay. Yeah, it's really big work.
I just one time I was interviewing another woman who's a therapist on my show, and we were having a similar conversation. And I was saying that it's that grief, of getting to the point where you accept that your parent is the way that they are, and they're likely not going to change. Sometimes that is more painful than holding out hope that they will. And I think that's why people stay there for so long. So like when you get to that place where you're like, okay, I accept that they're probably not just going to be As involved in healing their own word wounds and having these, these rich, beautiful conversations with me where they take accountability for their actions and are willing to grow, that grief, I have found is profound. And is multi-layered, and doesn't just happen, you know, in like one therapy session, it's an ongoing process. And I assume it is especially, which is…
Which kind of brings me to my next topic. And I want to ask you, if you're, if you're open to it, about going no contact with your mother, because someone very close to me is has gone no contact with their mother and it has been, I would say, like a 25 year process for them to finally get to that place where they're like, okay, I can't do that. I've given you so many chances, great, have apologized so many times, and continue to disappoint me and manipulate me emotionally. I'm done. And watching this person go through that, it's so many things. So difficult. And also the reaction from other people. Like, I'm going to fight people. You don't get you don't get to make that person feel guilty about that. So I'm curious what your experience has been like, and like, and sort of like, what was your sort of like, line in the sand where you decided it had to be that way?
Yeah, I have deep deep respect, and reverence for women who have to go no contact, because it is one of the most difficult experiences that I think any human can go through where the person who gave you life is actually toxic. And the cost to your well being is so profound that you need to distance yourself from them. We're not built for that.
Every person who's done that it has not come without great agony, huge agony, and like, that's what I don't… Like if I meet someone, and they're like, oh, yeah, my children don't talk to me. I'm immediately like, ok, what’d you do?
Yeah, we're not built for that. We're built right lifelong bonds with our parents. So you know, something has happened. Yeah, it takes enormous strength to go through that, and you need support. And there's certain phases, like, for example, the first three months are really crucial. One of the things I recommend is to have like a folder or something with all of the reasons why. Like write down evidence. These are the reasons why I had to… This was the best and healthiest choice for me to go no contact with my mother and look at it multiple times a day to remind yourself because your brain is going to go into this place of oh, what am I doing, I'm doing something wrong, your inner child will freak out like, so there's a lot of things that are happening.
But I like to say that, while this is one of the most difficult things a woman can go through, I think it is one of also potentially one of the most empowering, it was that way for myself. It was one of the most painful things and one of the most empowering because it was an act of profound act of sovereignty and self-actualization. I had to walk the wasteland of, you know, places our culture does not talk about but it's it's really the ground of self. You know, it's kind of a gift in a way because you have to face things, to face feelings that develop an incredible depth inside of oneself. When you go through something like this, you gain a gift that the world can ever take away from you, which is you have to develop a conviction in your own worth, you know? And a hard one sovereignty on what you will not accept from anyone. So it's a profound act of self-worth to go through such a thing.
In my situation, my situation was pretty extreme in the sense that, you know, I tried to approach my mom, very empathically and compassionately in an effort to like, let's change the pattern we have together because I think we can relate in a more like empathic, authentic way. And she just took that as a complete attack. Even though I was like, you know, spending so much time trying not to be threatening in the way I was saying it. My mom just complete… Because she was so codependent with me, she saw it as a betrayal and attack. She decompensated in such profound ways that resulted in me having to try to get a restraining order against her, because she started to see my therapist as a kind of interloper.
Was like out to get together or something?
Out to get… Like to take me away from her. So, you know, I didn't know I had projected before, before this, that my mom was one person but what you know, the facade she gave to the world, which was like kind of stable, you know, and then this just ripped the lid off of all of her trauma. So it was like, and I knew this would kind of happen before it happened because it was starting to deteriorate. But I realized so much through that process. I realized that actually, all the negative hunches that I had, the fears I had, were actually well founded and totally justified, which was that I was holding the entire family together through my good girl, people pleasing. And when I took an act of active sovereignty, to have boundaries, and to speak my truth, I had done enough therapy eventually, that I was able to do that, that the whole family kind of imploded for a while. But it was what had to be done to bring the family system to a new level, and it was kind of this limbo state of what's going to happen? And eventually, it was just clear that the most healthy choice for me was to go the full no contact, and I had a lot of support, like you said, support is really great. I love how you're supporting your friend because a lot of the world, you know, most mainstream, like, people just accept what they go through, and they repeat the programming. So it's, it's a lot of courage to.
So I that's why I just have so much respect for women who go no contact. And I think we as women who go, no contact, we can develop more authentic soul-level nourishing bonds, like a soul family, with other people chosen family that brings more love and contributions to our communities. That we don't have to stay stuck and receive toxic dynamics with other with other adults, like we don't have to live our lives that way. And I think as more people awaken to that it's good for society. It's good for the earth. It's good for our spiritual lives to come into contact with accountability and with standards and really, really want that and call for that in our relationships, whether they're family or not.
Yeah, it is so complicated. Right? My audience knows me like I say that probably an every single episode when it comes to families. Like families are complicated, so much, but I think about, as you were saying that I was sort of like daydreaming just for a second, and imagining like, what if what if my children grew up and was like, I am going to go no contact with you. Like, I would actively be like, okay, we're going to therapy, like, I'm willing to totally listen to your side and like, what was your experience? Like, what did I do? And then also take responsibility for anything that I may have done and then I think about, okay, so the mothers who can't don't have the capacity to do that. Who like hear their adult child say, I have to go no contact with you and like, lose their minds. And I the amount of pain and denial that that mother must do, breaks my heart and like, it brings me to my knees like I want on one hand, we can say like, you know, she's so toxic, and just toxic behaviors, but like, then I immediately go to so much compassion and just sadness for that person that they are so closed off and in so much pain and their own inner child is just in terror, in terror. That's the only way I can kind of like wrap my head around. Yeah, what would we have? That's why I said it's complicated, because it's both it's all of those things.
Exactly. And that's why my theory about the mother wound is so all encompassing, right? It's like, when we see or hear stories about like that level of, you know, pathology and trauma. It's like, wow. So yeah, and it's about not making, you know, the old patriarchal way is to say only one person is right. Or only one person is to blame. That there's always has to be someone to blame. And that's what I'm trying to read, like say, oh, no, it's not actually one person is wrong one is right. One has to win one has to lose. No, it's all women. It's an all women thing. It's patriarchal-based and trauma-based that the mother that abuses and traumatizes her child is a victim herself and yet she also has responsibility. I like to say that when we are when we're children our mothers harm us, yes, they are to blame, because they're the adult, they're the one that's supposed to be responsible, the child is only helpless and vulnerable, dependent on the mother. But as we grow up as that child, it then becomes our responsibility to do the healing work within ourselves. So it's, it is complex and I think the longer… You know, I always tell people stay the course trust your process, and get really good support because if you can really walk this path of healing the mother wound and inner mothering, the rewards are so rich, and I hope that I can be you know, one model of what it's like to stay the course. I've been in therapy with a therapist for 24 years now and it's taken a long time but my life has totally, you know, transformed. And what I used to feel like exile, you know, like a black sheep, you know, over time that transforms in with enough grief into a real feeling of liberation. That it's not exile, it's liberation and self-actualization. So it's a really holy long-term path.
I love that. I love that you use the word holy about that.. Well, before we tell everybody where to go and about your website and how to find more about you, I have one more question. That's the question I've been asking almost all of the experts that I've had on around this theme, and then in your own words, I would love for you to share with us, how do you think that we heal ourselves? There's so there's a lot of way, like, how much time do you got?
There’s a lot of ways.
How much time you got?
And I would say the most important thing to bring to it is a real commitment. That you have to commit. And there's a lot of encouragement, you know, in the world to like dabble and self-help. Like I do a workshop, I do a retreat, I'll read this book. But real healing, the real healing, the true visceral, deep transformation is, is like a spiritual path of surrender. Of learning to welcome the parts of ourselves that have been in exile that have been disowned, that have been in shadow. Learning to lovingly make space and embrace layer by layer, breath by breath, the disowned child and ourselves. And it takes years, and a deep commitment to do that. And I see it as a profound service not only to oneself, but to all of humanity. And let's face it, humanity has a massive backlog of a lot of healing to do. So anyone who, you know, I bow to anyone who feels that readiness, like you're ready to commit to your responsibility, you know, for the whatever portion of human suffering you carry inside of yourself. That choice to prioritize your healing to make it the center of your life, to see that everything stems from that. Yeah, I just feel real great gratitude because it really takes all of us each and every one of us to take that responsibility and to have the courage. It is a path of the unknown. It's an organic path that unfolds differently for everyone. But also getting support, quality support is super key as well. To stay the course we can't do this work by ourselves. We need we need help. And to yeah, reach out for that. And not just get a little support, but get as much support as you can.
Board of directors, as I tell people like the whole board of directors. Okay, so the book is Discovering the Inner Mother: A Guide to Healing the Mother Wound and Claiming Your Personal Power. And you are at BethanyWebster.com, we will put those links in the show notes. Is there anywhere specific that you want people to go to whether you have like a free PDF or online course to learn more about you and what you offer?
Yeah, I would invite you to go to the website BethanyWebster.com. And just put your name and email, I have an ebook that kind of describes in more depth, what the mother wound is how it shows up in our lives. And it's a really inspiring, just free PDF that you can sign up for that will get you in my community. And you can also go to my blog page on my website. I have dozens and dozens of blog articles. One of them is on estrangement, like one of the topics we talked about today. But there's a ton of free tools and articles on my website that you can check out. So yeah, head on over to BethanyWebster.com
Awesome. Thank you so so so much, and everyone out there listening. Thank you so much for your time, you know how much I appreciate it, that you choose to spend your time with me and my guests over here. And remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.
Hey, everyone, thanks again for listening to the show. And just a quick reminder that if your company needs a speaker or a trainer, I might be the right person for you. I speak and do keynotes on confidence and resilience for mixed audiences as well as do trainings on the daring way which is the methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. So if you think it might be a good fit, hit me up at support@AndreaOwen.com. or head over to my speaking page AndreaOwen.com/Speaking.