Episode 160 - The Dark Side of Mothering
Our colleague Puddi Kullberg, author of The Bad Mother, joins us to acknowledge motherhood’s shadow. A link to her paper is below. Our culture idealizes motherhood, but mothers everywhere have experienced themselves as bad in varying ways and to various degrees.
Jung suggests that even truly harmful mothers can expiate their actions by becoming conscious of what they have done. If we can face even grievous mistakes, we can deepen into our ordinary, sometimes dark humanity. Confrontation with our negative mothering leads to experiencing emotions that were previously unrecognized or denied. We can mitigate isolation by getting help. We can be known, our experience is understandable, and we can choose the life that lies before us now. We may also discover new capacity for compassion and presence—and moments of genuine joy.
Here's the dream we analyze:
“I climb a gigantic rock. In the carrier on my belly, I carry my son. I am trying to reach the tree that stands solely on top of the rock, which feels like the ceiling of the world. The tree is bigger than any tree I have ever seen. It is, in fact, so big I feel it to be the world tree. I am desperate to reach it, for I feel I need to be there; it is essential. The tree is wildly moving its gigantic trunk from left to right all around its circumference. There is no wind, so I feel it must be moving from itself. Its crown is damaged by what seems to have been lightning. It feels overwhelming how big the tree is. I know that I have to reach the base of the tree when it is moving its trunk into the other direction. Although there is a risk of its branches hitting me and my baby, I know there is a certain time span for me to quickly reach its base before the trunk will change direction again. Suddenly there is a figure that attacks me as I climb upwards. He hits and tries to throw me off the mountain. It feels like he is from space, for he has a strange appearance, metallic-like. I know I will have to fight him; it is too important to reach the tree. I feel a sense of overcoming this figure, but there is no real image of that. I am very aware of my baby on my belly during the fight.”
Lisa Marchiano. Motherhood: Facing & Finding Yourself https://www.amazon.com/dp/1683646665/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_14TP3MBSAKD72A2JSV36
Puddi Kullberg. The Bad Mother: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00332925.2019.1564512
Daniela Sieff. The Death Mother as Nature’s Shadow: Infanticide, Abandonment, and the Collective Unconscious: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00332925.2019.1564513
Learn to Analyze your own Dreams: https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/