Anatomy of a Mother Complex – Pt 2
I am ready to go on with what I had begun last day, looking at how my Mother Complex makes its appearance in my life and how it influences my relationships. Though I do find myself going on and on about the technical stuff, the ideas and words that I have learned through my study of Jungian psychology, I do so so that as I present my case study, I will have in place a foundation to understand and present the case study. As expected, any case study must begin with the child and the mother. Since it is the child who will have the mother complex, the central focus shifts to that child, through the lens that the child uses to decode and understand the world. Now, to be fair, one has to realise that a child is just a child and does not have the mental faculties needed to objectively analyse the world. So, what will emerge through the lens of a child is just a version of reality. Of course, that version of reality does have its roots in the experiences that the child has in relationship to his or her mother, and for this particular case, the relationship that I had with my biological mother.
For the next part, I will relate some of the known story. My mother was a young teenager when she became pregnant with me which resulted in her having to get married to my father before I was born. Becoming pregnant resulted in her being tossed from her home, a quiet Protestant anglophone home, and having to learn to live in a boisterous and rowdy French Catholic home. She didn’t know the language or the culture. She had been rejected and thrown away by her own culture, her own father (and mother). Not long after the marriage, my father left to chase his dreams in the wild west, hoping to become rich and famous in the process. The scene isn’t a pretty one in which a young teen-aged girl/woman could feel confident and positive. So how does this find its way into the psyche of a young infant?
“. . . the infant reads the world in other ways to figure out what it is saying. As early as six weeks, infants have been fount to mirror their parent’s face, emulating fear, depression, joy and so on. In this process, the child not only seeks its own grounding in some elemental reality, but also assumes the emotional reality of the Other. . . ” [Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 19]
My mother was depressed, often withdrawn into herself as the world swirled around her in what she could only see as chaos. It’s not the best way to bring a child into the universe, but as someone important to me is prone to say, “Shit happens. Get over it and get on with life.” Life indeed goes on and the process of building a mother-son relationship continues. Now, it is important to understand that children are prone to magical thinking, thinking that not grounded in reasonably in reality. This magical thinking sees the child interpreting the world as centred around him or herself. I will give an example: Dad went away and left Mom alone and sad – something I must of done or said or not done or not said made Dad leave Mom. The child is not old enough to be able to understand the bigger picture, but has no doubt that since he or she is at the centre, he or she must have caused the negative result. But time, changes all of this. An infant becomes a toddler and then a child ready to participate in a larger world, larger than the hot-house of the biological family.
“In addition . . . there are other experiences that have a huge impact on future relationships . . . the wounds of too-muchness and not-enoughness, engulfment or abandonment.” [p. 20]
It seems that no matter what we do as parents, what children experience is some sort of wounding of the psyche. The best that we can hope for as parents is to be “good enough.” Perhaps good enough is good enough. Was my mother good enough? Before I answer that question, I do have to say that she, like every woman that becomes a mother, could only do as well as she could. It is a rare, extremely rare woman who doesn’t do her best possible to be a mother. Now, as I experienced and interpreted being mothered, I would have to say it wasn’t good enough. I don’t blame her. She did her best.
“But it is nonetheless inevitable that the prime source of wounding to the child will be the parents. Since we are human, our less than perfect nature will necessarily impinge upon the child and leave its imprint forever.” [p. 20]
And it is this imprint that we carry with us that will influence our relationships to men and women in our adult lives. And, it is vital that wounding does occur as it is through wounding that one is pushed to learn and adapt and survive and perhaps even thrive as individuals. So, I don’t blame my mother. But that said, there is still the issue of a mother-complex to uncover.