If you’ve been in recovery for any amount of time, you’ve come to realize that many of your hurts, habits, and hang-ups stem from your family of origin, usually your parents. That can make Mother’s Day or Father’s Day a difficult time.
It can be a painful reminder of what you didn’t get from your parents, like love or nurturing. Or maybe it serves to remind you of what you did get, like criticism, ridicule, or even worse. It is not uncommon to have feelings of shame surrounding our wounds from our parents.
When I entered recovery these feelings and awareness of my family of origin issues were new to me. In early adulthood, I had pushed my mother aside due to her mental illness, and thought I’d dealt with it in a healthy way. Mind you, I had no idea what emotional health looked like back then.
I had basically written my mother off and rarely included her in my life. It was convenient and expeditious for me to do so. While setting boundaries with another person, and guarding one’s heart are healthy recovery tools, my motives were purely selfish and not out of a place of love. Having never had that modeled to me, I didn’t know what that looked like. Furthermore, I didn’t know that the guilt and shame I was harboring around these choices were adding to my pain.
Out of sight, out of mind, right?
But those feelings and my mother didn’t stay out of my mind for long. She would call me in the middle of the night asking for money or maybe she’d be delusional and rant about some fantasy world that she was living in.
I think I was just as delusional as her back then because I thought I could stuff my feelings and my mother in a box in the back of my brain, throw away the key, and go on with my life like it didn’t even exist.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
These feelings and the effect of those kinds of choices fester like an untreated wound. While you may not be aware of them, others around you are because they leak out in unexpected ways and unpredictable times. Mine surfaced through verbal attacks on my spouse, occasional fits of rage, bouts of depression, and eventually led to multiple chronic health conditions. I didn’t connect the dots between my unexplained behavior and my deeper emotional wounds of the past until I hit my bottom and found my way to recovery.
When I started attending deep healing classes and Celebrate Recovery (CR), it was like light bulbs were constantly going off in my head. I’d hear other people’s stories in classes, CR meetings, or in shared testimonies. I was starting to make the connections. I was seeing the why, behind my hurts, habits, and hang-ups. It took months and months of meetings to start making a shift in my old patterns of thinking, relating, and behaving. I kept coming back because I saw transformation occurring in the people in the program. I saw God at work for the first time in my life—truly healing people’s wounds from the past.
I embraced the recovery lifestyle, my recovery community, and the biblical principles that Celebrate Recovery is based on. I was being transformed by the renewing of my mind.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
The real healing of my mother wound didn’t happen until I was able to offer my mother forgiveness and to serve her at the end of her life. But along the way, I made great strides in healing those mother wounds through CR and other spiritual classes I attended.
One of those classes was based on the book The Mom Factor, by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. In this book, these Christian psychologists and New York Times bestselling authors, describe the six common types of mothers: the Phantom Mom, the Controlling Mom, the Still-the-Boss Mom, the China Doll Mom, the Trophy Mom, and the American Express Mom. Their book was a big catalyst for me to open up my eyes on my own mothering style as well and work to change it.
Mothering comes in all shapes and sizes. We can’t all be blessed with a mother who is emotionally healthy and nurturing. One thing I’ve learned in recovery is that there are no accidental children, but there are accidental parents. If you’re still harboring resentments or have unmet emotional needs relating to the mothering you received, consider The Mom Factor as a resource for your own healing, and get connected in a safe environment like Celebrate Recovery where you can work through the wounds of your past.
After all, try as she might, Mother didn’t always know best.
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.