Recently I have been thinking about my clients and how common the yearning to have been ‘mothered’ in the way they always wished for is a lifelong desire that appears to direct their emotional lives and relationships throughout their lives. The part of us hanging on to the hope that one day someone will give us what we have always wanted; that emotional attachment, that free flowing connection that seems to be the most perfect bond of all time. This is the one thing everyone who has not experienced this loving attachment yearns for the rest of his or her lives. We seek it until the end of our lives through the choices of attachments from one to the next.
But what is that one thing? If we haven’t had what we so yearn for, how do we instinctively know what it is? This love so pure that we have never known. How can I continue to seek what I’ve never experienced yet live for from one relationship to the next? Where does that come from? Is it so authentic to my being that the mere act of survival depends on the hope of one day being mothered to the extent we have always lived for? Is being mothered a requirement for survival? Is it a necessity? What is it that the very act of bonding with an infant gives him or her inner life? Is that bonding essential and what gives an infant the very sense of wanting to live?
The core connection of infant to mother seems to be lacking in some form with every client I see It appears we seek it from moment of life until the moment of death. How can a person go on from one stage of development to the next without the love and guidance from being mothered? There are more questions than answers for my clients and myself. Without being mothered, there is a verb to mother, what would motivate a person to continue living? Does the very desire to live come directly from the very connection to that person who gave us life? Those who have been adopted give us some indication as the quest to find their biological mother never leaves them. Not only to find their biological mother but to see if they ever loved them. Was there ever a bond of love between them before the mother gave them up? Is it necessary that the mother give us emotional life as well as physical life? Who thought we were special so we might draw from that later on in life?
When we are afraid throughout our lives the thoughts of “I need my mom!” come to mind immediately. Especially when aware of being in a deadly situation, a person will call out for their mother. During the horrors of the Orlando massacre this past week text messages from young adults frantic to live begging for help from their mothers. Calling out through the social media connection of their phones, “Mommy, come quick, I’m shot.” Their pleas for help to their mothers were hardly believed at first. I’m not sure how many sent out calls or texts of help to their fathers, siblings or friends. One man sent a text to his brother who did not believe him. The brother sent back quick joking comments that were met with even more intensity from the brother who had been shot. Guilt will play out from those who survived and those who were unable to help. The quality of being a Pleaser to the point of our own very lives, our emotional lives, brings a person to the point of “I don’t care.” Most people hit a ‘bottom’, a point where they choose life or death. The death choice might not be immediate, yet it is the choice nonetheless.
My mothering, my guidance, my hope came when I began therapy at the age of 23. If there is a sufficient degree of neglect in guidance, encouragement and support a human being flounders. There are exceptions, to be sure. However, as in the multitude of case studies, stories, books, movies and play, a young adult require the guidance and support from someone significant to them. We must believe we are worthy of going out into the world and keep living. Most of us think those qualities are in the very type of person, husband or wife, who treats us the exact way we were use to being treated. Reacting to these same feelings that are so familiar from years long ago, we break up, divorce and promptly go out and choose the same type of person over and over again.
If to love and be loved is the greatest joy on earth, isn’t it essential to have experienced the love from one’s mother first? How would we know what love is? For me, I am not clear I’ve ever known what that is.