Part of breaking cycles of pain in our maternal line is to grieve that we, as the next generation, will grow and evolve beyond what our mothers and grandmothers had lived themselves. This can bring up feelings of loneliness and grief, that our mothers can’t come with us or don’t want to come with us to new insights, realizations, or ways of doing things. In fact, some mothers will criticize, bully, and harm their daughters when they do things differently, perceiving their daughters’ growth as an affront or personal attack.
A Call to Disrupt the Female Shame Barrier
Part of the wonderful opportunity available to us now is to stop living according to a shame-based identity and break the cycle of denial in our families. True love, true power come not through meeting some image of “perfection” or suppressing our emotions, but through owning and accepting our humanity honestly and without shame. In this way, we model new possibilities for the next generations.
The legacy of being encouraged to look perfect, look happy and avoid conflict or difficult feelings continues for many families. For many women, keeping secrets, over-functioning, and people-pleasing have been core aspects of female conditioning that our mothers have handed down to us. The pressure continues for modern moms with Instagram and Facebook, places where images of perfection are seen and reinforced 24/7. Many of us are trying to move out of that value system into something different, on the values of truth, integrity, authenticity, the courage in asking for support, in being emotionally available, and the dignity of making and owning our mistakes without shame.
These patterns are like a computer program that shapes our brains in early childhood. As adults these patterns run without our conscious involvement, passing from one generation to another until someone has the psychological capacity and desire to break the cycles.
It takes a firm commitment to do the inner work of breaking intergenerational patterns. That effort may be lost or unappreciated by our parents or grandparents. It can be lonely to be conscious enough to see the dysfunctional patterns and be on a path of healing and transformation. Our families may not be able to validate or appreciate the work we are doing for ourselves and future generations.
The little girl within us may long for that approval, appreciation, and interest from them. That little girl may still want to justify or explain herself to receive the longed-for validation.
We must grieve that disconnect, nurture that little girl inside and get support from other women so that we can keep going on our own paths. If we can’t get the support we need from within our families, we can find it elsewhere from other sources. Many of us do this through a cumulative effect of many sources, such as books, close friends, teachers, therapists, women’s support groups, online communities, and more.