“There is nothing as powerful as a mother’s love and nothing as healing as a child’s soul.” — Unknown
I see many people my age and younger struggling with all kinds of insecurities, boredom, and an overall sense of worthlessness. I was one of them until compelled by parenting circumstances. I had to take responsibility for raising my child.
The motherhood experience transformed me for the better. I never thought that this would be the cure for my self-absorption, but it was, indeed, this simple.
I will share with you in this story how my motherhood journey enabled psychological rebirth and how it did happen. My story is proof that a child is a perfect reason and catalyst for change, and the mechanism is relatively straightforward.
When we start living and be responsible for people other than ourselves, we have the chance to straighten out. When we feel overwhelmed with our own issues, we perhaps should get our heads out of our arses and focus on somebody else.
Since, as humans, we have limited resources, shifting the focus outwardly will reduce to a minimum the time we would otherwise spend being overly concerned about our issues. We’ll stop ruminating. We’ll stop over-analyzing ourselves, becoming, as a consequence, more present and available for the person that we love more than ourselves.
A child — your child, is the cure.
The Shades of Self-absorption
Self-absorption or self-centeredness bear negative connotations. When we regard people as such, we’re expecting them to be defensive, imposing, insecure at times, acting superior, opinionated, lacking empathy, arrogant, hiding, and selfish.
Some people, though, qualify for this category even if their only sin is that they are constantly preoccupied with their own person. They are not necessarily defensive or imposing. They don’t present signs of insecurity, don't feel the need to act superior in front of others, are mildly opinionated, and can empathize but prefer to keep their distance. They are not arrogant but relatively passive. Still, we can safely label them as selfish.
I sometimes remember myself before having a child.
In many respects, I look at that person filled with sadness. I was bored, sad, empty, and permanently unsatisfied. These feelings took many of my resources to feel them, foremostly, and often complaining about them. I secretly hoped that my partner would fix everything, that his love will make everything better. This unreasonable expectation deepened my discontent, making me feel like my partner didn’t adequately love me.
In my case, self-absorption manifested as a constant need to be cared for, pampered, and entertained by someone to feel loved. After months of introspection and therapy, I understood my condition, realizing that no one, except mothers, can naturally know your needs if you don’t express them verbally.
Suppose this need for unconditional love hasn’t been fulfilled in infancy by your primary caretaker. In that case, it will create a deep wound that will show discontent and an endless search for meaning.
This kind of childhood wound can make us self-absorbed adults.
The Magic Power of a Mother’s Love
“You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame; how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?”
— Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
I stand by my hypothesis that the love you’ll feel for your child will be so powerful and magic that will transform you at your core. The transformation will be painful, almost like a re-birth. In fact, similarly to religious or spiritual experiences, the birthing process can prove to be a quantum change for a person’s character.
A person can change gradually through diligence and perseverance, having clear objectives to attain in a particular time frame. This kind of change, while sustainable, requires a significant investment to reach it. Luckily, some of us can benefit from “over the night” self-change and personal growth. Not literally, of course, but the trigger itself can be as swift as a magic moment.
My son couldn’t wait for me to grow up and leave behind my whips to support him; he needed me straight and ready to nurture him and provide the unconditional love critical for his development right from the moment he was born.
It scared me.
“There is a certain type of person most susceptible to a rapid personality transformation and it is the type of person most in need of one.”
—William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience
I went through an identity change. It angered me. I had constant fights with my husband, who, in all honesty, had his own issues. I questioned everything I represented and stood by up to that point.
My inner child came to the surface more hurt than ever, seeing the kind of nurture an infant would expect. Looking at my son, how tender and vulnerable he was, I felt that I have no better job in the whole world than to care for him. Seeing myself as a mother in charge of the life and well-being of my son reminded me of the imprinted pain of my mother’s absence during my early years.
My mother, who I came to forgive by becoming a mother myself, was clinically depressed, although undiagnosed because back in the 80s, too few people voluntarily invested in their mental health. While I don’t remember facts or have visual memories, I feel the emptiness and sadness wrapping me when I imagine my infant years. The still face experiment perfectly explains my confusion as a baby and why my mom did not react to my needs, which enabled me to crave connection while never being satisfied.
I fought my mother. I fought my husband. I punched the walls, and then I finally decided that self-help books won’t suffice this time.
I got myself into therapy. Not for me, not for my mother or my husband, but my child. He deserved a stable mother, grounded in reality, connected to the present and her child, so we could eventually break the circle of emotional unavailability.
Motherhood Can Enable Psychological Rebirth
The journey to personal growth is specific to each of us. There aren’t two experiences 100% alike. However, a thing is for sure: you can use any life-changing experience to foster personal growth, and here, both birth and death play a significant role as catalysts.
An experience as natural as giving birth can count as life-changing as the experience you’ll get from an expensive spiritual retreat camp. Likewise, a near-death experience can also trigger personal growth and enlightenment.
Don’t expect it, though, to be easy. Like all things that matter in life, you need to invest and persistently work to achieve them.
As for me, this meant revisiting my priorities and redesigning myself in the light of my new identity. The love for my son shifted my energy towards offering him everything he needs to thrive. By doing this, I was left with little to no time to worry about feeling loved.
The love for my child filled my emptiness.