Growing an internal mother

internal mother

I am going to continue today on the same theme of the unmothered child.

I am investing a lot of my time, energy and effort into this because it represents a big part of me, and it is at the heart of many of my past and present life struggles.

I suspect that it is very significant to many survivors of childhood trauma. There is no relationship more profound than that of a mother and child and therefore any dysfunction in this relationship has far-reaching consequences for the lives of survivors.

Collapsing Syndrome

In ‘Warming the Stone Child’, Estes describes the collapsing syndrome which is so typical of the unmothered.

For those who have been neglected, abused or harmed physically or emotionally by their mothers’ action or inaction, there is great psychic suffering.

If someone is negative or disapproving towards us in words or looks, we experience a psychic regression back to childhood. In that moment we are no longer an adult in present reality but are transported back to the throes of our childhood suffering.

We feel worthless, isolated, unprotected and rejected; wanting to make ourselves somehow invisible. When we act from this wounded place we may behave irrationally or react unproportionately to the present reality.

I can relate to this feeling very strongly and my reaction in moments such as these is to shut down or cry. It happened a few weeks ago when I felt judged by another mum about my parenting and my son’s behaviour. It was a very uncomfortable moment and I felt silly for crying. It was a very childish reaction to an adult scenario and I recognised that it is a familiar pattern for me when I am in this situation.


Estes offers the psychic secret to being able to overcome this collapse by being ‘decent and good’ to oneself. Self-care and self-love through warm understanding of who you are and what you have been through is the way to help yourself out of this regression.

I am trying to be aware of these moments and what triggers them. They still happen even with my new-found awareness. I am hopeful that I can continue to be kinder to myself and fill my mind with positive self-talk to try to make these episodes less frequent and when they do occur to be able to move on from them quickly.

I am extremely sensitive and things stay with me for a long long time after people have long forgotten. I am finely attuned to others moods and feelings and deeply affected by others. It is interesting that Estes touches on this when she talks  about the great suffering of those who are sensitive and unmothered. I certainly fall under this category. My life’s work will be to grow skin to be able to let things go and not let them affect me so deeply.

Yet with this sensitivity comes great compassion, a deep understanding of others’ pain, a creative sensibility and powerful intuition that those who are mothered do not feel. These are the powers that we need to embrace and be proud of. The suffering is over and the unmothered have gifts which make them great healers, artists, idea makers and counsellors.

Healing takes time

Above all else I want to be patient with the healing process and understand that there will be no quick fixes, that this healing will take a long long time and the gradual accumulation of new thoughts and behaviours over time will eventually show themselves in both my internal and external reality.

‘We cannot heal what we can’t feel’ so this part of my journey is about bringing these feelings to light by experiencing the discomfort so that they can finally heal.

I hope that you can be kind to yourself too and offer yourself the self-care and understanding that your psyche needs.

7 thoughts on “Growing an internal mother

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