“I think I married my mother”, “Every time I watch porn I’m trying to feel comforted”, “Every time I watch porn it feels nurturing in a way”, “I think I’m trying to replace my mother with another woman”… some of the phrases I’ve heard in my office often by people fighting against porn and other sexual addictions. 

More commonly in society we hear about “daddy issues”. But how often do we acknowledge that “mommy issues” are just as, if not more common? I want to be clear, both genders can have mommy issues. Our mothers have a huge impact on us, as they are typically the first human being we attach to and they are our lifeline until we can start to do things for ourselves. 

The mother wound is typically described as some type of shortcoming or absence in our motherly figure growing up. This wound can come via many avenues such as illness, neglect, death, addiction, abuse, abandonment, any number of things. How are we to make sense of this treatment from the first person who was supposed to be our safe space?

For many people they turn to things like pornography; images that depict a relationship between a male and a female that seem connected and intimate. Although we know these scenes are anything but those, in the moment our brain and body are dealing with immense hurt and pain, and the only thing we are looking for is comfort and to feel okay. 

Mother wounds typically cut very deep. How are we to cope with the fact that the first woman in life that’s supposed to take care of us, failed us in some way or left a huge void?

I’d like to offer a few steps. Please understand that every one of these is easier said than done. This process can and often does take years. 

  • Accept that your mother was/is a flawed human being.
  • Accept that the way you were treated was wrong. This does NOT negate the previous point. This is a both/and situation, not an either/or.
  • “Heal your inner child”- a phrase that therapists use when we mean be for yourself; be who you needed when you were younger. 
  • Realize that the role of your mother will not be filled by another woman. You can have a stand in mother figure, but it’s not a replacement for what you needed from your mother.
  • A mother and son dynamic is not God’s design for marriage- the role of a wife and the role of your mother are incredibly different, one can’t fulfill the other.
  • Feel the emotions that need to be felt. Your pain is valid, what happened was wrong. 

For us girls, the mother wound may manifest itself incredibly different. Typically, it’s geared more towards self-esteem and body image struggles. Our mothers are our earliest image of what womanhood looks like. If we are shamed, judged, ridiculed, or not shown healthy womanhood in any way shape or form, that will impact the way we carry ourselves. 

Parent wounds have a big impact. That’s healthy to acknowledge. You aren’t blaming or being mean your parents, you’re simply acknowledging pain and trying to create healthier patterns. So give yourself permission to discuss them in therapy. Confidentiality exists for many reasons, this is one of them. I can’t recommend enough the importance of having a professional to guide you through this process and help you navigate wounds that likely have been numbed for a long time.

They may not seem related, however marriage and sexual addiction issues likely have a heavy influence from your relationship with your mother (or father).  In your recovery journey, go back as far as it takes to dig up the deep roots and plant new seeds of healing. It can be a very painful process, yet one day it can become a beautiful story.