Howl for me, Wolf-Woman!
I am an only child. My parents are still together. However, when I was young, my father used to be very mean to my mother, and when I became a teenager, he’d started to do the same to me. He was never physically abusive, but mentally abusive. I left home as soon as I could, but now that I’m close to 30, I find myself looking back, but not hating my father, but being extremely pissed off at my mother for letting it all happen. I can’t explain why I feel this way, but it’s like I knew he couldn’t help it or something, but that she could have done something. It’s impossible to talk with them about it now. My mother is in denial, and my father isn’t as harsh as he used to be, or he might be, I’m not living there to experience it. It’s so sad, the whole thing. Any healing advice you have would be appreciated.
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On the very morning I received your inquiry, I was alone with household mundanity and pondering my own (scarred over but no longer bleeding) wounds. I wondered, aloud to my dog in fact, if much of our Soul Curriculum is taught during our childhood years, for better or worse, by our primary caregivers. Tossing laundry in the basket, I mused about whether our primary “test” in life, if that is the right word, is to, after a good deal of growth and anguish, not recreate the wounds of our childhood or, more specifically, the wounds of our parents as they, however inadvertently, carved into our skin. If we are able to fully embody our divinely ordained purpose only after we have essentially unlearned much of what our parents, as well as other agents of socialization, have taught us about their world and presented to us as absolute fact, then what would my soul’s report card read now at age 37? What are my sons going to need to unlearn from me before they can truly flourish?
I often joke, though it is hardly funny, that our souls choose to incarnate to parents who will wound us in just the right way to support our journey; this is a bleak perspective, I know, and I absolutely do not believe life is all about being hurt, nor do I believe those who hurt us deserve any sort of absolution simply because the pain they put us through does, ultimately, grant us immense opportunity for growth. I will take it a step further and say that the assumption that all wounds are soul-designed can be a severely damaging one, since it places a good deal of blame and shame on victims of trauma and abuse.
I am not defined by my wounds, nor are you. Regardless of all the mysteries of reincarnation, know you are absolutely blameless. Know that despite any ties by blood or destiny, you have the freedom to choose who gets a seat at your table. You are under no obligation whatsoever to continue a relationship with those who have hurt you, even if you share their DNA.
In a previous article, I discussed the “mother wound” and how the absence of the divine feminine can, in effect, inflate our expectations of our own mothers. Those who are most in love with the sacred feminine tend to look to our mothers to fill the greatest void in our wild hearts; they could never really nourish us so completely, never fill the dark moon void left open by the suppression of the Goddess, so we will always be disappointed by the level of feminine sustenance we receive from our mothers. So, too, we must remember that our mothers were affected by the same void, arguably even more so, and thus share the collective matrilineal wound.
Know that I am not, in any way, granting your mother a reprieve for her inaction. However, in addressing your comments about placing more blame on your mother than the one who actually carried out the abuse, I do think there is merit in examining your beliefs about what a mother is, what a mother should be, and to what extent the loss of the feminine divine may have influenced these beliefs. Mind you, this is a complex endeavor that may never be fully complete, and I am hardly claiming superior knowledge over mother-wounds; mine run quite deep as well.
When you say that “it’s impossible to talk with them about it now,” it makes me wonder if and why you feel the need to do this. Do you need closure or to make your pain known? Are you hoping they can offer some sort of rationale for their behavior? Do you need a (well-deserved) apology? Ask yourself the nature of the healing that could come from such a conversation, and, if it is truly impossible to communicate with them, if that source of healing is indeed closed to you, then how can you go about healing yourself without any verbal elixir from your parents?
Personally, and I am not saying this to influence you but rather to offer some empathy, I will say that I reached a point in my own healing from childhood wounds where I was no longer after an apology, and I did not feel the need to show my scars to those who hurt me, but I also recognized they did not belong in my life any longer. I was unwilling to invest any more energy into the draining and dramatic. I felt I had learned all I was meant to from the relationship, and I effectively put an end to it. This felt very right for me, as if an immense load had been lifted from my back, and any intermittent guilt I may feel at the severed relationship pales in comparison to the energetic investment it had required.
While I am not generally a fan of finite conclusions to relationships, that is I am the Queen of Not-Now-But-Maybe-Later, I also know that there is a part of my heart that remains tied to any relationship that does not seem to have a well-defined ending. In my experience, strong boundaries must be set around dysfunctional relationships lest they will continue to reopen the very wound you are hoping to heal. I know you no longer live with your parents, but perhaps even more distance is required in order to gain perspective and truly examine the familial dynamics around the abuse. Perhaps you need space and time away from them completely, meaning no contact, in order to delve deeply into your memories of these experiences, and perhaps you need professional support to hold space for you to do so.
Ask yourself how you want to be healed. Knowing that you want to be healed has brought you this far; now ask yourself to visualize the qualities of the most ideal resolution, being endlessly forgiving of yourself if you do not yet know the answer. Most of all, know that authentic healing is an internal process that is ongoing rather than a permanent response to an external offering. True healers can only hold space for you to heal yourself and many are quite gifted in their work. Ultimately, however, you are your own healing agent. Do not force yourself to forgive or forget a goddamn thing until you are ready, if you are ever ready, and do not feel the need to rationalize your feelings; you have the right to be angry at your mother for her inaction, and there is no need to compare those feelings to the way you feel about your father. Emotions do not fit into neat containers, and they have no logical order. You feel the way you feel, and, while you have the right to study those feelings if you wish, you are also an autonomous creature who has, and will always have, the right to feel deeply in whatever way you see fit.
I am howling with you, my love.
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Read more Howl for Me, Wolf-Woman!:
The Spiral Dance of Selfhood, Judgement And Soulwork
Substance & The Visible Feminine: Selfie Culture & The Crone’s Perspective
The Wild Woman’s Body-Prayer For Rage Release
The Wild Woman’s Circle: Handcrafting Space For Sisterhood
The Hand-Crafted 2017: Wild Resolutions Before The Quickening
The Dark Feminine And The Maiden’s Loss
Winter Solstice & Yuletide Medicine For The Rootless Witch
Mothering The Wild & Becoming The Bad Daughter
A Ritual For Betrayal — When You Have No Choice But To Become Someone New
The Great Learning: Social Acceptance, A Challenge An Awakening Wild Woman Faces
Wild Wisdom For The Bleeding Woman
The Guru’s Crime Against Soul
Looking For Some Guiding Wild Wisdom
Deep Loving In The Darkness
Sip a little more from Danielle’s medicine:
➵ Witch, Howl Moonward:
The Timely Salve Of The Dark Primal Feminine
➵ The Wolf-Woman’s Book Of The Dead:
A Samhain Benediction
➵ Invoking Artemis: The Liberation Of Our Wild Spirituality