When Jo, 46, an artist from Sydney, was in her thirties, she went into therapy to get her drinking under control. Instead, she uncovered a belief system created in early childhood that had impacted her life. "I've spent my life underestimating myself, but somehow, miraculously, I'd crafted a relatively successful life that feels as if it had nothing to do with me," she said. The reason for this was Jo discovered she had a mother wound.
Rather than a clinical diagnosis, a mother wound is a loss or lack of mothering. "Typically, the mother struggles to develop a relationship that feels safe for the child," explains Dr Kassandra Gratwick-Sarll of Tend, a psychology-based organisation founded to help women overcome the barriers that hold them back.
"In turn, the child internalises the feeling that they're not good enough, developing a sense that there's something inherently wrong with them and that they're unlovable on some level. Not having a close attachment to their primary caregiver can make a child feel very alone."
Watch: A spoken word video starring Laura Bryne articulating the contradiction of pressures that mothers face in their daily lives. Post continues after video.
Jo relates to this feeling, and her mother had suffered terribly throughout her childhood. "My nan was a cold fish with a bit of a mean streak. She died shortly after I was born. My mum was never taught love. Subsequently, when my brother and I came along, Mum had the practical skills of mothering, but love and affection were lacking. After experiencing some psycho-sematic physical symptoms, Mum went into therapy in her forties, which softened her beyond recognition."