Were you adequately mothered? Do you still have a little baby within you who did not receive loving holding? Do you feel a deep need for affection and holding that you don’t know how to get met? Are you confusing this need with sex? Learn about the difference between the need for mothering and sexuality, and how to heal the empty place within that may still need loving holding. The good news is that it is never too late to fill that empty place within.
I was working with Karina at one of my 5-Day Intensives. Tears streaming down her face, she was feeling overwhelmed with painful feelings.
“I wonder if receiving mothering would help. Really just someone to hold me and let me cry out this overwhelm and know that I’m safe.”
“Would you like me to come over and hold you?” I asked.
I moved next to her and folded her into my arms, rocking her. She curled up like a baby and continued to silently cry.
“It’s okay to make noise when you cry,” I gently told her. She had not only never been given permission to cry, she had never been allowed to sob out loud.
Katrina sobbed and sobbed and sobbed as I gently rocked her, stroking her face and hair, and allowing the love-that-is-God to move through me into her. She cried deeply for a long time. Some of the people in the room were crying with her and I could feel everyone in the room sending her their love, supporting her in letting out the pain that she had never felt safe enough to let out.
Slowly, she stopped crying and then a beautiful smile lit up her face. She looked so relieved and peaceful. I smiled back, happy to have been a channel of love for her.
It was evident to everyone that holding her and rocking her with love was very healing for Karina. She finally got some of the mothering that she had never received from her mother.
Were you deprived of comforting holding as a child? I was. I was held by my mother, but the energy of her touch was so needy and engulfing that I hated being held or touched by her.
Babies and toddlers who don’t receive loving physical nurturing, feel rejected, alone, and abandoned.
It’s very fortunate that loving touch is so powerful. Research indicates that loving touch can be instrumental in healing the deepest of traumas. What is unfortunate is that touch is not allowed in the therapeutic community, due to some therapists sexualizing touch.
It’s traumatic for babies to not receive loving holding, touching and gazes. Research indicates that it is through loving touch and loving eye contact by a calm, regulated mother or father that the brain of the baby develops the ability to regulate itself.
I have seen over and over is that it’s never too late to receive the loving, healing touch that we may have missed out on. The problem is finding it.
Erika and I were very lucky to find that loving mothering with each other. When we met and became friends, neither of us knew anything about mothering as adults, but both of us desperately needed it. I’m not quite sure how we stumbled on it, but once we experienced it with each other, we knew that we had discovered something profoundly healing, which we wrote about in “Healing Your Aloneness.” I remember feeling, many years ago when we met and began to mother each other, that the deep need for this loving holding would never go away. But gradually, over a period of about six months, the place in me that so craved the mothering got filled up. My nervous system became much more regulated, and I felt a kind of inner peace that I had never felt before.
Now, living as we do as Golden Girls, sometimes we still mother each other. When she sees me down or overly tired, she pats her lap. I climb on and she holds me until I feel better. When I see her having a hard time, I wrap my arms around her and rock her, just as I did with Karina at the Intensive.
All of us can benefit from loving, non-sexual safe touch and holding.
Our nervous systems are designed to calm down when a calm adult touches us or holds us with unconditional love.
I encourage everyone who lacked adequate mothering in their childhood to reach out to a loving motherly or grandmotherly woman, or a very kind, gentle, and caring man with no sexual energy, who can hold you and help you heal this infant wound.
As a tiny baby coming into the world, we needed to feel safe and loved. This means we needed to be held and carried by a loving parent or other loving adult during most of our waking hours – an adult capable of bringing through love from Spirit to us. We had basic needs that needed to be addressed quickly – our needs for food, diaper changes and smiles, as well as comfort when our body was giving us a hard time. It means that we needed to sleep next to a loving parent to help us feel safe.
In most indigenous societies, this is exactly what happens. This kind of parenting is becoming more common today, but it was rare in our society when many of us were born.
Were your parents loving adults, capable of giving love to themselves, each other and to you? Or were they needy, anxious, overwhelmed, angry, or depressed? When they held you, did they bring love to you or did you feel smothered by them? If you were a child who didn’t like being held, there is a good possibility that your mother was needy and trying to get love instead of giving love to you.
Did you get fed when you were hungry, or were you put on a schedule? Were you held or left in alone in a crib or playpen? When you cried, did someone come, or did you end up crying for hours or finally giving up? Did you sleep near or with your parents, or were you left alone? Were you treated with tenderness and caring, or was there abuse?
If you did not get the care you needed from either or both of your parents, chances are there is still a little baby in you needing mothering. The lack of mothering may be underlying your own neediness, addictions, and difficulty in connecting with your spiritual Guidance. When we didn’t have adequate mothering, we often project our parent’s unloving behavior onto God and are afraid to open to our Guidance. Our wounded self believes that if our parents were judgmental, controlling, unavailable, harsh or punitive – then God must be that way too.
How can you get this need for mothering met now?
One way is that you can do some healing within yourself.
I encourage you to get a doll or stuffed animal that represents your little baby, and hold it as if it were you as a baby, opening to your Guidance and bringing through the love to your inner baby that you never received as a child. Surprisingly, just holding the doll or stuffed animal with love, tenderness, and compassion, especially next to your skin, can be very healing. Also, lovingly holding and touching your arms, legs and torso with your own hands can also be very healing.
Whether or not this is healing for you will depend on your energy. When your energy is open, loving and very gentle and tender toward yourself, the energy in the touch will be healing for you. But if your energy is from your controlling wounded self – intent on taking away anger or pain – then it will not be healing. Love is what heals, so it must be your spiritually connected loving adult who is doing the physical nurturing.
In addition, you will need to meet your other needs – feeding yourself well, getting enough sleep, accepting and approving of yourself, speaking up for yourself, and so on. The more you consciously and consistently treat yourself the way you wish you had been treated by your parents, the more that empty place within gets filled. Healing occurs as the baby within you finally gets his or her needs met by you.
But there are times when doing this for yourself isn’t enough. You may need the loving touch of another to heal pain from the lack of physical nurturing.
Sometimes people try to get this need met through sex, but this is not at all what your inner infant or small child needs. In fact, sexualizing the need for touch can cause sexual acting out or sexual addiction. It is like trying to satisfy thirst with salt water. It will never give you what you truly need. Mothering is being held with unconditional love by another person. They must be capable of acting as an open channel for the unconditional love of spirit to flow through them.
Unfortunately, in our society, it is often difficult to find loving, non-sexual touch. There are three ways I’ve found of getting this need met.
As I previously said, one way is to find a loving person (both men and women can mother – it’s about being nurturing without needing anything back) who will hold you and rock you like a baby, with no agenda attached. This means no sexual energy or agenda for sex, no neediness, no need for approval – just bringing through love to the baby in you. Obviously, this is not easy to find. Sometimes good friends, like Erika and me, can mother each other, and much healing can occur. If you have a good friend with whom you can talk about this need, your friend might be willing and able to mother you.
If you have a wonderful grandmotherly/grandfatherly person in your life, you might be able to ask them for the holding you need.
Another way is to get massages from a nurturing, non-sexual massage
If you can find a very open, loving, and nurturing massage therapist who brings no sexual energy to the massage, you can explain to him or her what you need. Some massage therapists are familiar with the need for mothering and are wonderful at helping you to meet this need.
Another way is to get cuddling from a professional cuddler.
There are people who are available to hold and nurture, and for some people, this can be healing.
It is very sad to not have been adequately mothered, but it is never too late to get this need met and heal the inner yearning for this level of loving. This is really what Inner Bonding is all about – moving beyond being a victim of the past and giving yourself the love you have always wanted and needed, as well as reaching out to others for help.
As I said, sometimes people confuse the need for mothering with sex.
Leticia consulted with me because she had a hard time connecting with people. Having been abused and neglected as a child, she had never experienced a sense of bonding with another person. She was aware of a deep longing to be held and physically nurtured by a woman, and she had concluded, as a result of this longing, that she was a lesbian. She had become sexually involved with a woman in the hopes of fulfilling the longing, but it was not happening. She was confused.
“How come when Gayle holds me it doesn’t heal that longing in me?” she asked.
“Leticia, what generally happens when Gayle holds you?”
“We end up making love.”
“Is your longing for sex or for loving holding?”
“I really want the holding. I also want to be nursed. I thought if she nursed me, that deep longing would go away. But it hasn’t and I don’t understand why.”
“Leticia, when you were a baby and needed loving holding, did you also need sex?”
“No, of course not!”
“And if someone had held you and then been sexual with you, would that have been loving to you?”
“Well, it is no different today. The little baby in you wants to have what she didn’t get. She wants to be held with love. When you are held with love and then you have sex, it is actually violating to the little one within you. It is a betrayal. This is why it is not healing. You are trying to heal the little baby with an adult activity, and this will never work. If you want a sexual relationship, then have a sexual relationship. But if you want mothering, then you need to find a totally different kind of relationship.”
“So does this mean I am or am not a lesbian?”
“Wanting to be mothered has nothing to do with being a lesbian. Are you more sexually attracted to men or to women?”
“To men. I have had much better sex with men than with Gayle.”
“Then it seems that you are not a lesbian. You have sexualized your need for mothering and that will not heal the baby who just wants the mothering.”
“So what do I do?”
“Finding mothering is, unfortunately, not easy. If you have a good friend or relative who can hold you with tenderness and love, that would be great. But you also need to learn to open to your loving spiritual Guidance and bring that love into yourself. I suggest that you get a doll or stuffed animal that represents the baby in you and start to practice holding her and bringing to her the love she is longing for. You will be surprised at how much healing you can receive by holding the baby within you.”
Leticia was fortunate. She had a motherly friend, a woman with children of her own, who was more than happy to hold her. Over the months of being held by her friend and of holding herself, the longing gradually healed. Leticia found that she was having a much easier time connecting with others, and she started to date again.
It is imperative that you learn to love and nurture yourself, not only receiving mothering or massage from another person. However, there is no reason for you not to try both. You will find that, over time, that healing occurs through loving touch.
Erika and I wrote extensively about mothering in our book, “Healing Your Aloneness.”
You can learn much about loving yourself with my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”
And, of course, we have much to offer you at our website at https:www.innerbonding.com
I’m sending you my love and my blessings.