A big barometer of self-love is how well we are able to parent ourselves through difficult times, mistakes, disappointments, grief and other challenging emotions.
All too often, this is where our wounds are triggered and we enact ways of being that perpetuate the cycle of wounding within our psyches. If we keep treating ourselves and our inner worlds the way we internalized, the way we learned to treat ourselves, then we continue the cycles of pain in our lives without realizing it.
This is the realm of the death mother and one I see most common in clients and my own soul life.
Grief is a very common reaction not only to loss but heartbreak or rejection or disappointment. We make mistakes. We are human. Life has its ups and downs. Things happen. We feel things in response to it.
The death mother sits on the shadow-y end of the Mother archetype. Archetypes are energies that represent certain patterns that contain the totality from shadow to light. Every archetype has this journey, including parental archetypes. The shadow resides within the death mother/father, negative parents, absent parent, to the good enough mother, nurturing mother, present mother and the great, divine mother. herself. One pulls us away from life. The other connects us more deeply into life-affirming principles that give freedom to the soul.
The way we parent ourselves is the backdrop of everything as we move through our lives. It is the way we treat ourselves emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. It is the way we nurture ourselves. It is the way we hold ourselves when we are experiencing difficulties, struggling with dark or challenging emotions, facing addictions or relationship patterns or our human condition. It seems so common that in emotional struggle and life difficulties, we have the hardest time loving ourselves. This is the inner parent at work.
What this looks like is a desire to get rid of the pain, criticizing ourselves, judging ourselves, numbing out the pain rather than seeking soothing, a hatred towards our own inner wounding, bypassing our wounding with spiritual affirmations, using our thoughts to control our deep pain, fear of turning inwards towards ourselves, a feeling of choking when wanting to express truth, a draw to things that on the surface appear soothing but are actually toxic, or seeking for something outside of ourselves to be our source of love.
Living in a world that values what image we project over who we really are, what we can produce over what we express, how we look over how we feel is a culture that is emotionally and spiritually neglectful. It is a culture that values the external to such a degree that we have become codependent this culture, a death mother, in an attempt to receive the nourishment our psyche is so deeply craving and getting ourselves lost in the process.
We have been split in two...our inner nature and our rational nature. Animal and divine has become animal OR divine. The splitting creates a deep chasm in the in-between, a place that rests in our hearts...where we are actually meant to embody the in-between...to be both instinctual and divine, logical and filled with the creative loving energy of eros; to hold a safe container, respect knowledge and wisdom equally and to navigate through the world fully alive in our cells with feeling, wisdom and grace. We should feel safe to be whole. Yet most of us do not.
This is the essence of the soul wound, the split between our two sides; logos and eros, masculine and feminine, animal or spirit, spiritual or science, dark or light, love or hate, good or bad...and on and on.
When I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, I had an intuition that a lot of my addiction was related to mothering. It was then I began to explore not only my relationship to my own personal mother but what it is to cultivate a conscious relationship with myself. This is when I first encountered the archetype of the death mother, a representation of the oppression/abuse of the healthy feminine. She is also the shadow side of the Great Mother archetype.
Archetypes are universal energy patterns that humans have experienced through out time. It is also expressed within cultures, as well as personally in each of our lives. This forms the foundation of our internal mother, a combination of universal energetics, cultural expressions and our personal lineage.
The death mother archetype appears in other cultures as an archetype of the soul stealer; the soul ultimately being the feminine, embodied expression of the divine.