Motherhood: An Earthquake of the Soul

March 20, 2018

We now know a lot about what being a mother means. However, few probably take a very realistic approach to the crisis that motherhood entails for many women. Laura Gutman addresses the topic in her book “Maternity, coming face to face with our own shadow“. The psychotherapist explains how women come into contact with their “shadows” when they become mothers.

What are we calling “shadows”?

The term “shadow” was used and diffused by Carl Jung. This concept encompasses more than just the famous “unconscious” of Freud. It refers to the unknown parts of our psyche and spiritual world.

The whole universe is made up of opposites: day and night, masculine and feminine, positive and negative, light and shadow.  Our mental world is also formed out of its light and dark parts. We don’t see what’s in the dark, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Shadows and motherhood.

Our “shadows” start developing in childhood. When we’re little, we start building our personality and our ego. Sometimes there are painful feelings and events that we cannot emotionally digest and instead decide to forget. We “turn our backs” in order to continue on the path of life. These unresolved and sometimes unconscious areas are our “shadows“.

What happens to women when motherhood begins?

Regardless of our age, the child we were still lives inside of us. Sometimes our inner child is there to help us enjoy ourselves, to have fun. Other times it connects us with the most vulnerable part of ourselves, our most primal fears, our memories and perhaps things we lacked.

Motherhood shakes us up and uncovers all our emotional deficiencies and wounds. Motherhood brings back the experiences we had with our mother and father, with the people who brought us up and fed us emotionally. It brings back our most emotional memories from our childhood. These memories, perhaps painful memories, had been buried… until now.

Now in pregnancy your childhood memory wakes up. Old conflicts come back up, wounds reopen. And this whole emotional outbreak comes along with the physiological and hormonal changes of pregnancy.

In these cases, it’s normal for women to feel confused or sad… and thus they go to the doctor. Often, the doctor then diagnoses “depression” or “postpartum depression,” which may or may not be correct.

This usually involves an automatic prescription of medications that block thought and emotions. We should remember that medication can provide momentary relief, but if there is no psychological therapy, problems will just be buried and not fixed.

How to find the road to healing?

The truth is that many hidden areas of the female psyche are activated and unveiled in motherhood. It is usually a time of revelation, of crisis… It is a process where therapy and other kinds of support can really help.

Making the unconscious conscious makes us grow and mature. Making the pain conscious, bringing it into light, is how we’ll heal it. That way it won’t turn against us when we’re weak.

A mother and her daughter.

Getting back our self-love is also a necessary part of healing emotional wounds that have been there, open and painful, since childhood. We’re talking about finding and healing our inner child.

That’s how we’ll correct harmful compensating behaviors, by making ourselves whole again. Healing is possible. A healthier, more balanced, and happier life — and motherhood — is possible.

“This is the task of every human being: to go through earthly life in search of their own shadow, to bring it to light and walk the true path of healing”

-Laura Gutman-