Mother As First Responder
From The Emotionally Absent Mother (affiliate link)
A very important role that secures Mother in her role as place of attachment is what I call Mother as First Responder. The “first responders” in our modern world are firefighters and police officers, the folks you call when there is an emergency. Imagine your home is on fire and no one comes. How would that affect you in terms of believing help will be there when you need it?
My teenage brothers used to put me on top of the refrigerator when I was a toddler. I screamed to get down. When my mother finally showed up, she was annoyed with me, not them. It is telling that her solution was to wait until I was big enough to climb down to the counter then the kitchen floor without help. I never thought of this as other than an oft-told family joke until a former boyfriend and single father said in response, “One of my kids ever did that to another, it would be the last time.”
Cori goes on to note:
It may be hard to remember how your mother responded to you as an infant and small child, but often a telltale clue is how you feel about your needs now. Are you respectful and attentive to your needs, or so ashamed of needing that you try to hide them?”
For years, I denied that I had any needs and our culture tends to expect and reward self-sacrificing women, making it easy to assume the problem was having needs rather than ignoring them. An important step in recovery and healing is to determine legitimate needs and growing the boundaries to protect them.
For those of us with chronic childhood trauma, the failure to have a mother as First Responder was akin to the house burning down with all of our needs and unanswered calls for help or assistance inside.
Next week, Mother as Modulator