When Cancer Meets the Mother Wound

This feels messy in a way that I’m not certain I can describe. It feels like a tangled ball of barbed wire deep inside my chest. To untangle it from within me will be impossible without indescribable pain, but to leave it there means allowing it to grow and further ensnare me.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer last week. Simply typing that sentence halted my thought process and led me to read it over to myself several times.

My mom has cancer.

The complicated relationship I experience with my mom makes this news carry a polluted burden of feelings. I am scared. I’m scared for the battle that my mom faces. I am scared of the uncertain future that this presents for her. I am scared to lose my mom. I feel powerless. I don’t know what this beast of a disease has planned for her. I am desperately trying to figure out how to help while living far away from her in the midst of a pandemic. I feel a pull to be there to help in any way I can – to be a source of physical and emotional support – to simply be there with her and for her. Yet the obstacles before me are making a difficult situation exponentially more complicated.

The rest of the tangled feelings inside of me represent, among other things, a mix of anger, guilt, hurt, and shame – the complex result of a deep mother wound that exists in my heart. I know those feelings are there because I have felt them with each interaction I’ve had with my mom throughout my life. Yet at this moment I cannot access those feelings. The fear, uncertainty, and concern over this diagnosis and the complex surgery that is fast approaching is all that I can feel. And right now it’s all I want to feel. Untangling the barbed wire will have to wait. Right now I need to help my mom.

15 thoughts on “When Cancer Meets the Mother Wound

  1. Breath, then try to see if this may be a chace to resolve any of the old wounds. It doesn’t mena that it is, I could never heal my wounds with my mother but sometimes people do. The fact that you feel so strongly about her being ill tells me there is a chance. At least a chance to be there for her emotionally, maybe in a way she wasn’t for you. Give yourself some time to work out your emotions before you jump in. i say that as someone who prtects their heart. 🙂

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  2. I’m so very sorry. No-one ever wants to get that news. It’s terrifying to have a cancer diagnosis, and it’s terrifying when someone you know has a cancer diagnosis. It turns the whole of life upside down.
    Those deep painful wounds really complicate life and make dealing with a painful situation even more difficult and distressing. I really feel for you. Remember to take it easy, to take good care of yourself , and to trust yourself to know how to deal with things on a moment to moment basis. Thinking of you ….

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  3. I know it must be tough Sara. I can only imagine the pain you must be going through but you have to be strong for your mother. She will derive the strength from you and all those around. She will get soon , I am sure of this. Wishing you and your mother, the best of luck. You are amazing and she must be proud to have you as her daughter. Hope she gets well soon. 😇😇

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  4. So sorry to hear this news Sara. As someone who also had a mother with a cancer diagnosis, it’s a very scary time so I can completely relate to your fear and concern. It definitely sounds like a very complicated, and emotionally charged relationship. Sometimes it is difficult to see past all that pain, but it sounds to me like you are putting that aside for now to support her through this time. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, only that we have to do what feels right for us inside. Sending you hugs and best wishes to you both. I hope she has a speedy recovery. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

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