The Mother Archetype, Expressing Her Shadow

*Note: I am using “she” here to mean the divine feminine energy force that associates to and expresses through the Mother Archetype. This is not gender related.

There are two other articles in this series that may be helpful to build fuller understanding of this archetypal energy + expression:

Archetypes Introduced: The Mother

The Mother Archetype, Dancing in Light

The Mother, Expressing Her Shadow

Archetypal energies have the potent ability to express in a conscious way (light) and an equally potent ability to express in a subconscious (shadowy) way. The latter is usually to the detriment of the individual expressing. It is the energy in its destructive or even self-destructive force.

We now turn to the shadow expression of the Mother.

The subconscious expressing the Mother essence is the destructive force of this energy. Most impacted in this destruction is the self. Other relationships also suffer at the expression of the Shadow Mother.

We can be certain that we are entangled in the Shadow Mother expressions when we recognize the following in ourselves:

Self-abandonment. This is the pattern of constantly putting the needs, desires, and wants of others before her own. She is constantly hustling to ensure everyone else is happy, healthy, nourished and taken care of, thereby neglecting her own nourishment almost entirely.

When was the last time she took the time to ask for someone to do something for her? She cannot remember. When was the last time she took a day, moment, hour off of her external schedule to please and nurture her own essence? She is not sure.

The self-abandoning mother archetype has forgotten the value of her own medicine. She is lost in the list of wants and needs of others, and has begun subconsciously rejecting her own.

This is often visible when we realize we no longer have any creative projects in our lives. They have been sacrificed upon the altar of being lovable, being needed by others, being a “good mother” to our physical children, or organizing external extravagance for everyone but ourselves.

We are lost in the illusion that being Mother means being selfless. And this is a slippery trail down a dark hall of shadows that leads us to forget our true essence. And it makes us feel grumpy, burnt out, overused, irritable and resentful.

Not asking for help. When the shadow Mother takes on the to-do list of others, and the entire world, without asking for help, she is not only denying the internal list of necessary to-dos in order to keep her inspired, uplifted, healthy and connected to self, she is also denying the ability of those around her to step into their own Mother archetypal energies that wil offer her sustenance, assistance, and nourishment in all its forms.

When we are full on in the shadow of the Mother, whatever we are working on, whether it's

parenting, creating for a project, or showing up for relationship, we are sitting on the belief that we have to do it all, and do it perfectly. And we cannot ask for help. We create an enormous and unbearable load for ourselves when we isolate in this way.

This is another and very specific type of self-abandonment. We feel we can help everyone else without receiving anything in the exchange. “Your thanks is enough,” we say. Sometimes that is true. Most often, a heart of service also does have to be served, and that requires us to be able to receive.

Receiving is extremely difficult for the Mother in Her shadow. This is a skill (and make no mistake, this is a skill) that she has forgotten almost completely. She feels acutely uncomfortable asking for help in any way. So, instead of rising into that level of discomfort, she refuses it and pushes herself further down the line towards burnout.

Often, when this facet of the shadow is expressing in our essences, we are feeling deeply afraid of how others will think about us if we ask for help. “They will know I am not perfect. They will know I can’t handle it. I will prove to be a failure. I will lose their trust. I will be less-than.” On and on. The reality here is that people actually trust us more when we ask for help, and they feel just as honored as we do when asked for time, advice, support, or are delegated a task that will be impactful for us upon its completion.

The Shadow Mother does not remember that all life has mother energies waiting to be expressed and can go to work on her behalf. Others want to help us. They want to give back. They want to express their deep care, too. So they wait for us to let it in