Abandonment or Commitment Anxiety: How the Mother Wound Sabotages Your Relationships

Abandonment or Commitment Anxiety: How the Mother Wound Sabotages Your Relationships
If you struggle with separation or commitment anxiety in romantic relationships, chances are high that you have a maternal wound. This article explains how you can recognize and heal this wound from your childhood. “It means you disconnect emotionally from your mother and stop trying to please or save her.”

You do not need your mother for your healing. Blaming her for your injury traps you in the entanglement and doesn’t help you any further.

Unmet child needs

A mother can physically take care of her child as well. But if she is emotionally unavailable for the child’s needs, her life is in danger. It is in fact skin and hair dependent on the mother as the first attachment figure.

The archetype of the mother is the image of the loving, always present and generous mother who knows exactly what a child needs and can give it. Unfortunately, many children have not had such a mother, but a mother who is herself unfulfilled in her child’s needs and emotionally empty or cold. The truth that a mother cannot give that love is too crushing for children to allow. Only later in adult life, when there are strong triggers such as breaking down relationships or conflicts with a manager, does the mother’s wound become painfully exposed.

Abandonment or Commitment Anxiety: How the Mother Wound Sabotages Your Relationships

Mothers have their own wound

Because of our patriarchal past, women are often less valued than men. As a result, women have learned to suppress their own needs and emotions. They were made unilaterally responsible for the upbringing of the children and were not given the opportunity to develop themselves as women.

They had to disown themselves to gain approval and learned to settle for crumbs of attention. Many of our mothers have not fully understood their needs and desires, nor have they had a mother who could give them what they needed. Until they are aware of this, they project their unmet needs, and the resulting resentment, onto their children. They do this through implicit messages such as:

Kind to others, hard to yourself

Abandonment or Commitment Anxiety: How the Mother Wound Sabotages Your Relationships

If you didn’t get what you needed from your mother, this affects your capacity for self-love and self-esteem. You are always working on a self-improvement project. You can easily show empathy and compassion to others, but you are hard-working yourself and you strive for perfection. Constant fear of being loved gnaws at you. We continue to look outside of ourselves for emotional availability and project our need for maternal care onto people and situations around us.

These mothers create good girls and adapted boys. They will bear the emotional burdens of their mother at the cost of self-denial: you no longer show yourself in your real emotions, because it can affect your mother or make you insecure. You let it happen that she pours her emotional ballast on you. You do not dare to address her about her negative or victim behavior, let alone limit her. You keep walking on eggshells. You settle for the imbalance and lack of reciprocity.

Am I ever (good) enough?

Children who feel responsible for their mother’s happiness live from an inner split. It causes true exhaustion. But when they consider quitting, they get into deep self-doubt: Am I good enough? You have the feeling that it is up to you and not your mother. You feel shame about yourself, which makes you keep thinking: ‘If I had done even better, I would have been satisfied. Maybe then I would have received confirmation that I am good enough.’ Whatever you do for your mother, it’s never good enough. The price you pay is giving up your own authenticity. You hide your authenticity and hide behind a mask. You are stuck in the dynamic: either she or me.

Separation Anxiety as a Painful Symptom

Abandonment or Commitment Anxiety: How the Mother Wound Sabotages Your Relationships

In relationships, the mother wound can express itself in separation anxiety or fear of commitment. I see people who have emotionally cared for their mothers – and still do – clinging to a love partner, even ex-partners who don’t want to hear from them anymore. Not being able to let go at all costs is a painful symptom of the mother’s wound. The original separation anxiety is awakened when a partner distances emotionally.
Fear of commitment: building a wall

On the other hand, the mother’s emotional claim can be so suffocating that it leads to fear of commitment. There is a deep fear that if you give something of yourself to your mother, you will be completely swallowed up. The fear that there is nothing left of you makes you emotionally distanced from her out of self-preservation. You automatically pull up this emotional wall when a love partner asks or needs something from you. It instantly triggers your mother’s neediness, ringing all the alarm bells and making you respond to your partner as if they were your mother.

Mother-son entanglement: responsible for her happiness

If the father is emotionally absent and does not play a confining role, the boy runs even more risk of becoming entangled in the mother’s wound. This is amplified when your father is absent as a lover for your mother. She doesn’t get her emotional need met from her husband and gets it from her son as a replacement, which places an emotional (and sometimes sexual) claim on him. Her suffering becomes his. He feels responsible for her happiness.

In the partner relationship, the boy is afraid that he will be emotionally caught again, just as happened with his mother. He adapts for fear of hurting the other. He avoids conflict and is more likely to withdraw into silence, for fear of unleashing something in the other person for which he feels responsible.
Avoiding Intimacy

These sons suppress their sexuality or disconnect it from a love affair. By using a woman as an “object” and avoiding intimacy, they don’t have to form stifling bonds. In this way they avoid being reminded of the emotional suffocation they experienced with their mother. Or the son wants to fill the lack or void he experienced in contact with his mother through his partner. In doing so, he (often unconsciously) puts a strain or claim on the relationship. He then tries to get from his partner what he has not received from his mother and feels that he is entitled to it.

Mother-daughter entanglement: fear of surrender

Abandonment or Commitment Anxiety: How the Mother Wound Sabotages Your Relationships

If daughters do not have a secure emotional connection with their mother, they are more likely to merge with the trauma of their emotionally absent father. If as a daughter you have not been able to lean on and rest with your mother, you have a hard time dealing with your own feelings and you quickly put your focus on the trauma part of your partner. You are going to take care of the needy, frightened or vulnerable boy in your partner. With this you push your partner away energetically.

You tend to live strongly forward – wanting to arrange and fix everything – as you experience control in this. You live on willpower and keep all the balls in the air so as not to have to feel what you lack inside. Fear of surrender arises to be confronted, in the backward movement, with your own feelings of lack: ‘Who will take care of me?’ This fear of surrender can also come back in sexuality: you do not dare to give yourself completely sexually. Underneath lies a deep fear of surrendering to your own feminine flow.

That’s how you heal the mother’s wound

Healing the mother’s wound starts with the realization that you are doing emotional work for your mother. You may return the responsibility to her from the realization that only she can heal herself. You do not need your mother for your healing. Blaming her for your injury traps you in the entanglement and doesn’t help you any further. If you focus on your own healing, you indirectly give your mother the opportunity to take her part. Whether she does or not is up to her.

Giving space to suppressed emotions

Healing the mother’s wound means focusing on the pain and suppressed emotions of yourself and of all that you have denied yourself for the sake of your mother. Healing means standing next to your inner child and feeling what it has meant to him/her: the sadness, the pain, the anger, and the shame.

Abandonment or Commitment Anxiety: How the Mother Wound Sabotages Your Relationships

It means you emotionally disconnect from your mother and stop trying to please or save her. You respect yourself as a separate individual, with your own emotions and feelings. Healing means developing an inner mother who sees and nurtures the emotionally neglected child within you and gives it the attention it needs. You stop feeling for your mother, but also with the feeling for others, such as your love partner. No relationship is worth losing yourself for.

Equal relationships full of love

Healing the mother wound means that you can be real and authentic again. That you feel loved for who you naturally are. Instead of either yourself or the other, the dynamic changes into one and one. You can take care of yourself and be there for someone else, without losing yourself.

Healing your mother wound ensures that you do not pass it on to your own children and put it in your generational line. Just feel how big that is. In addition, you no longer make an unconscious claim on others to fill your own void. Entangled relationships, based on inequality, give way to equal relationships. Love can flow freely again in a relationship, without you (unconsciously) confusing your partner with your mother. Finally, the healing of the mother wound transforms scarcity and lack into an experience of fulfillment and abundance, in which everything may go well with you.


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