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Navigating the Weight of Childhood: Unraveling the Web of Responsibility

mom responsibility

Money Thought Leader: Karen McAllister

Childhood trauma can cause an inflated sense of responsibility for the happiness of others.

“How can I do without you.” “I don’t know where I would be without you.” 
“You are my reason for living.” “I felt needed. Mum needed me.”
“You are such a goody two shoes.” “Always doing the right thing.”
“I felt ashamed and confused. Mum finds me irritating.”

“I learned to read her mood to strategize how I needed to be to keep my mother happy.”

My Personal Journey With My Mum:

Dancing between her despair and frustration, I learned to read Mum’s mood to strategize how I needed to be to keep her happy. 

She was a woman whose life changed dramatically when she married and had children. Her dreams faded from her grasp. She did not want to marry. She turned to her father before she walked up the aisle and said, “I am making a mistake.” He responded, “You made your bed, and now you must lie in it.” He held up his arm, and she took it reluctantly. 

I held space for my mother’s hurts, anger and pain as a little girl. The narrative went like this: “Dear Mum, I love you so much. I will hold your pain to the detriment of having needs and desires myself. I will sacrifice myself for you”. 

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However, my mother died a very slow, painful death. I lost the battle to save her. Her conditioning got her in the end, as it got her mother and her mother’s mother.

Mother’s Love & Responsibility:

Pain wanders through the family until someone is ready to do the work. This pain of many women in my lineage sacrificing themselves for the needs of others brought me to the meditation path.

Having done deep work with my spiritual teachers, many meditation retreats, and extensive coaching training, I went into business for myself. I set out to help women to go after what they wanted. I was on a mission. Moreover, I didn’t succeed in helping my mother. However, my life’s work is to help women discover what they want and attract the wealth – financial, emotional, and spiritual to make that happen. 

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Each time a client turned her life around by doing her money work, I felt like I was transcending my matrilineage trauma.

The Trauma Re-surfaced:

When the post-COVID recession began, I had fewer clients coming into my practice. And revenue less than halved. Many prospective clients did not feel they had enough strength to do deeper work because of feeling overwhelmed by the new normal. “I am just managing to keep my head above water.” I would hear this a lot. 

“And on top of all this, my partner of 20 years wanted to change the dynamics of our relationship.”

And on top of all this, my partner of 20 years wanted to change the dynamics of our relationship. 

My partner is my rock. He is a very kind, thoughtful, and fun person. He cares very deeply for me. Moreover, he is great at holding space for me. He has this way of soothing the hurt within. And his presence calms me down. 

And he wanted something different for his life. He wanted to explore parts of his life without me. I knew it was good for him. 

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Chiron Return:

Little did I know that his decision and the lack of clients would create the perfect conditions for my early childhood pain to surface. 

With little money coming in and my partner not there in the way he used to be, I fell apart. I reached a level of despair I never knew. And I was 50. I knew the tears were old. I have been around the block a few times to know this was not about my partner or fewer clients and less revenue. It was the emaciated, neglected child wanting to be seen and heard. It was the transgenerational trauma of my mother, her mother and so on. I was ready to feel it.

Turning 50 is a special time because we are in Chiron Return. In astrology, the planet Chiron is known as the wounded healer. It represents a place in our chart where we feel raw pain. If transcended, it is also where we can bring the most healing to others. The Chiron Return happens just once in your lifetime and occurs when the planet returns to the place it was located when you were born. It links to the classic “mid-life” crisis, around 46-53. 

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Chiron assists us in releasing and healing something from our past that we don’t understand, providing us with an opportunity to reclaim our power. I was a very sensitive and caring child who took responsibility for my mother’s happiness. My mother did it for her mother and so on.

7 Helpful Tips To Transcend This Inflated Sense Of Responsibility:

Here are seven pointers that helped me and continue to help me transcend this inflated sense of responsibility or hyper-responsibility for others.  

  1. Learn to be open and honest about your needs.
  2. Focus on self-care and self-nurturing. Take up a hobby, or go back to one that you loved.
  3. Give your finances attention. Many women with this type of conditioning tend not to take care of themselves financially. Find a money coach who will hold a safe space and guide you toward financial wellness.  
  4. Find a specialized therapist. Internal family systems worked for me. 
  5. Take little steps to say no. I role-played situations in which it was difficult to say no.  
  6. Learn to communicate your feelings proactively. This is very challenging, as many people believe I am so together. “A very strong and powerful woman,” they would say. Do you resonate, ladies? This is the great defence of the over giver. 
  7. I do exercises and use techniques daily that are for emotional release. One is called the tantrum. Lay on your belly or your back. Have pillows under your extremities. Throw a temper tantrum as if you are two years old.

As I liberate myself from this inherited pain, I am reminded of this poem:

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To my dear Mum, Eithne and Grandmother, Catherine. 
Thank you. Míle Buíochas.(The Gaelic for thank you).
With deep respect and love,

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About the Author:

Karen has worked with over 100 clients, helping them untangle their money issues and to become more effective in their work because of it. To do this, Karen has studied financial issues extensively from both the practical, behavioral, and the emotional perspectives.

She has been certified by Deborah Price of the Money Coaching Institute as a Certified Money Coach, a Couples Money Coach, and a Business Archetype Coach. She has studied with Lynne Twist from the Soul of Money Institute for two years on Mastering your Money and Transforming your Life, including studies in Lynne’s Fundraising from the Heart program. Checkout Karen’s site TheMindfulMoneyCoach. Or, you can email Karen directly at the[email protected]