Not many of us want to talk badly about our mothers–I know I feel guilt even writing this first sentence. However, when my mother passed away I confess that I did not feel anything. That was odd, so I went to Christian counseling.
My counselor concluded that I was not a product of good parenting (she said I was a "miracle," though my wife may disagree!). Essentially, I was not mothered. There was a lack of touch, verbal affection, and time, which indicate a betrayal—even if not intended.
I was a little boy with a hole. Something was missing. I didn’t feel precious and deeply cared for. My counselor said, "A little boy cannot handle the thought, ‘My mother does not delight in me. I am not loved.’ So when my parents didn’t go to my baseball games, the little boy in me substituted, ‘I really don’t want them at my games.’"
Apparently I decided, "If they don’t need me, then I don’t need them either." My counselor thinks I pushed my parents away because I couldn’t handle the thought that they really didn’t want me (real or imagined). I know I wanted to be wanted. I wanted them at my games. I wanted them to rescue me from my downward slide.
What makes my relationship with my mother so confusing is that she was such a wonderful human being. Of course, today I realize that neither my mother nor my father were ever discipled or otherwise trained to parent me. They did the best they could.
Frankly, I never grieved what could have been until she was gone–I didn’t know what had me in bondage. I was in full-fledged denial because who wants to admit, "I don’t feel like my Mama cares."
The effect of the mother wound, in my case, has been over-sensitivity. Early in my life I made a vow: "If you’re not going to give me what I need, then I’m done with you." So today, I am loyal to a fault. But once I feel betrayal, reminded of my wound, I tend to close off my spirit towards that person and write them off. Since counseling and by God’s grace, this has virtually gone away.
Many of your men (maybe you too) have unsatisfied longing that keeps them in bondage, keeps them taking abuse, keeps them feeling betrayed, and keeps them from coming to rest.
My counselor said that an abandoned child will either become self-sufficient or feel something is wrong with them. I used to think it was my fault. Now I realize it wasn’t, but it’s up to me (and each of your men) whether to be a victim or a victor. By God’s grace, I chose victor and so can your men.
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, Ph.D.
Man in the Mirror