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Healing the Mother Wound: An Excerpt From ‘Discovering the Inner Mother’

Bethany Webster | February 8, 2021

As the Mother Wound is increasingly healed, you realize that there’s never been anything wrong with you. Incredible energy is returned to you. Slowly, over time, it becomes clear on a direct, visceral level that you are divine and connected to all life. The medicine is in the wound. As we heal, the Mother Wound doesn’t just disappear. It transforms from a source of pain into a source of wisdom that goes on to nourish every part of your life. The wound itself, when tended for healing, reveals in perfect timing all the breakthroughs, shifts, and insights necessary to seed a new life and a new world.

As you move through the wound and make your way to the other side, you will transform, and so will your vision of yourself and your life, often in unexpected and magical ways—because your connection to life is gradually being restored. You begin to realize that you really belong. There becomes more space for more play, pleasure, creativity. You will continue to experience pockets of grief and residues of trauma, but with each layer, more of you is liberated to explore more of your purpose and potential.

Surfing the Waves of Healing

The best metaphor I’ve found for life beyond the Mother Wound is surfing. I first started surfing with a group of friends when I was seventeen. I spent the entire summer without even standing up on the board, but instead learning to read the waves, developing my upper body strength, learning the timing of how to identify which waves to catch and which waves to let pass me by. In the beginning, the waves pummeled me and took me down, sometimes scraping my face against the bottom of the sea; sometimes the board would pop up and hit me in the head. But I kept going. Over time, I learned how to anticipate the waves, harness the forward movement, leap up at the right moment, and surf upon them with exhilaration instead of being overpowered and threatened by them. This is the process of healing the Mother Wound: to learn to ride the waves of healing, to harness them, to allow them to move you forward, to learn how to steer their power, to wel- come them.

Over time we come to a real place of gratitude and genuine com- passion for our mothers and their journeys. We may feel gratitude for whatever our mother could give and compassion for what she could not give us. It’s incremental. It’s an evolution. We heal on a spiral. There is no final “done” moment, and as time goes on, it becomes less of a focus or destination. Rather, the focus becomes the empowerment and freedom we experience as we move through each layer. Surfing the waves of healing becomes less like a chore and more like an adventure, constantly moving you into the unknown, finding support along the way, and treasures as well.

Permission to Be Real

The permission to be real is something that happens in the intimate space between you and yourself. As you heal the Mother Wound, you increasingly become the secure base for exploration for yourself. As the inner mother to your inner child, you become the profound space for everything to be OK. There is a powerful circle of love that flows around and through this inner bond, allowing you to increasingly let go of limiting patterns from your family of origin and the larger patriarchal culture. Exploration, experimentation, and mistakes are all welcome. Here there is no such thing as failure, only learning. As we become safer within, we become free to take risks, to chart new territory, to really explore the inner landscape without the usual fear of “What will they think of me?” This fear may still come up, but its power to stop you diminishes.

Patriarchy has demanded that women be small and give away our power in exchange for external approval. As we become awakened women, we become small, not in yielding to any outer authority, but in yielding to the truth at the center of our being, the divine, the source within. This becomes what guides our lives. Our lives then become lived in devotion to that. The process of becoming small in this con- text is the ultimate exaltation, because we become an instrument of a higher power. From here, everything we do can be lived as an ex- pression of this truth. Our true authority is inner. This is so healing, because patriarchy tells us that we must split and betray ourselves in order to be accepted. Here our authority is squarely placed in the center of ourselves. Here we realize our innate wholeness. In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach encourages us to let our suffering be the gateway to the awakened heart. Seen in this way, our suffering is not something to get rid of, but a doorway to deeper truths. Brach talks about seeing our pain as something that is entrusted to us. To cultivate inner safety, we mother our own inner child in the ways our outer mother could not. We replace those original deficits by first feeling them fully. We have to feel the feelings that were off-limits when we were young. This is the first step in becoming really authentic.

As we increasingly live as our original self, we are periodically asked to depart from the known and to find rest in the unknown. It asks us to befriend our ultimate aloneness and to find safety in our own presence. In that stark simplicity, there is a profound fullness that is not of this world. The ego quiets down and becomes in service to the organic mystery of your own evolution. There is a connection between the longing for mother and the longing for the inner beloved. One could say that this longing flows through the same channel, the child’s longing for her mother and the adult’s longing for the ultimate truth in the form of God/Goddess/all that is. That is why when we heal the Mother Wound, the way becomes clear for us to embody the spiritual power that wants to be expressed through us.

When we go deep enough into our own pain and existential alone- ness, we discover that we’ve actually never been alone. There in our own pain and messy feelings is a loving presence alongside everything we’ve ever experienced. As we increasingly feel safe within, our loyalty shifts from the beliefs we inherited from our families and culture to our own inner truth and integrity. Over time, our ability to be honest with ourselves about what we’re feeling becomes our true source of safety. This innate safety begins to outshine the illusions of safety we thought we’d attain through the old defenses we adopted in childhood.

“Discovering The Inner Mother” by Bethany Webster

The integration of the increasingly healed inner child and the conscious, wise adult self culminates as a new way of being, a bridge of spirit and matter, the new earth itself. We embody the Goddess when we mother the traumatized child within ourselves. As we mother our- selves, a greater sense of peace and freedom pervades, and we increasingly release the need for others to change in order for us to feel OK. We can let others be who they are and release attachment to being seen accurately by them. This becomes possible when we’ve reached the point where we can accurately see and appreciate ourselves enough to let go. We do this by mothering our traumatized inner children into the safety of the present moment. We mother ourselves in real time by feeling the pain of the past trauma and any pain of a current situation, by mothering ourselves on both levels simultaneously. It is a point of great power to live with awareness of many levels at the same time; to be aware as the adult in present time and as the inner child, and also as the formless divine presence that we are at the deepest level.

The best use of a traumatic childhood is to use your family’s short- comings to birth your greatness. Your greatness is simply being more of who you are at your core. This is the deeper gift available in the pain of our abuse. This is the true resurrection. When we discover the light in our deepest pain, we become capable of seeing it everywhere and in everything. Unity consciousness and existential belonging become a felt reality. Being the sovereign feminine is being both tender and fierce. Allow yourself to be large. Allow yourself to take up space. Over time, we reach a point where our inner child feels safe enough to start to let go of the early beliefs that tell us we must be small in order to be loved. And in doing so, we are increasingly able to experience vitality, wonder, creativity, joy, bliss, excitement, comfort, and receptivity. The inner bond allows us to emotionally separate from the toxic messages of “less-than” and “shrink to be accepted” that women receive from the wider culture.

Many of us are craving the ability to be fully authentic, to be real, to be seen and loved as who we truly are. We are collectively longing to have a visceral experience of our true creativity, power, and beauty, undiluted and unmitigated by the limiting structures of the wider culture. Each of us holds the potential to bring our original selves forth in a way that transforms our world. The time is ripe for whatever you want to bring forward.

From Discovering the Inner Mother by Bethany Webster. Copyright © 2021 by Bethany Webster. Reprinted courtesy of William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.


Bethany Webster is a writer, transformational coach, and international speaker. Webster earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Psychology from Rhode Island College. After leaving academia and working in medical communications, Webster decided to focus her work on her exploration of the Mother Wound, building on the insights she’d gained through research and the twenty years she’d spent uncovering and healing her own mother wound. She began blogging about the Mother Wound in 2013 on womboflight.com and quickly experienced worldwide demand for her work. Webster has presented her work on the Inner Mother at renowned retreat centers, as well as to audiences around the globe. Webster lives in western Massachusetts.

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