My mother has gone through a lot in her life; whether it’s been health issues, racism in her workplace or misogyny from extended family. Whilst I have always admired her ability to bounce back from any adversity, I do not want to be anything like her. 

Our bond will always be filled with love, but as I grow older and step into my own womanhood, I’ve started reflecting on our relationship and the not-so-happy aspects of it. My mother has spent most of her life in “survival mode”, meaning realism came before romanticism. She never really got to rest in her energy and allow herself to be open up to others. This is not her fault, but I think healing her own inner child should have been done a long time ago. 

Our inner child is an expression of ourselves at all stages in life, rooting back down to honoring the younger version of ourselves who had a vast imagination and always saw the beauty in life. A wounded inner child can manifest itself in various forms such as anger outbursts, lack of boundaries and insecurities. A mother who has not healed can pass on the “mother wound” to her children, so if the mother was critical, pessimistic or unapproving, sabotaging behaviors can manifest within the child. As women, we have a deep intuition connected to our mothers. So if our mother wasn’t able to live her best, most fulfilling life because she always had to make sacrifices, the same wounds can be found in us and left unhealed. 

I am very grateful to have been blessed with a safe childhood with loving parents, however, I think with all daughters, the relationship with their mother can be very difficult at times, especially as we grow up and define womanhood for ourselves. Whilst I am not criticizing my mother and I would not want to change any part of my upbringing, there were moments growing up where she would compare us to her younger self, be overly judgmental in our choices, and dramatize situations without listening first. As I am growing older, I am learning that our relationship might be a bit different from when I was younger, but I will always love her. Even if we have not had any major physical or emotional trauma within our lives, healing our inner child is something that everyone needs to practice as they move into adulthood in order to be fully at peace. 

The past few months, I have been practicing intense shadow work and self-love as a step towards peace of mind, removing the constant need for external validation, asserting my boundaries and learning where my jealousy comes from. However, trying to heal and feel content in an environment where the people around you are dissatisfied with their own lives can be tricky. I’ve learned that the key is to not let my faith in living a fulfilling life filled with art, joy and wonder be destroyed by those without any faith. This is not an attack towards my mother, but rather me saying that I forgive her. I forgive her for her outlook on life because I understand where these ideas have come from, but if I need to put some distance between us in this present moment, that is okay. 

To help you understand the dynamic, my mother and I would often disagree on what I decide to do with my future, defining our femininity or our views on religion. It became very difficult to be able to share parts of my life with her when I felt as though every conversation was a battle. There are times when I felt as though I couldn’t talk to her about big issues going on because it would turn into a larger argument, or she wouldn’t listen to everything. 

Perhaps I am still young and naïve, but I truly believe that we have been put on this Earth to create art, and then give it away to others. To live, and feed our soul with the wonders of the world, not just exist. At the end of the day, I will become everything God wants me to become, not what my mother wants me to become, and I try immensely hard to fulfill my dreams knowing that. 

Slowly, I am learning that our identity is constantly changing, and it is okay to perceive ourselves differently from what people have expected of us. Maybe I do have the privilege of being a romantic because I am not the child of immigrants, like my parents, but I do believe that it is possible to shatter the “glass ceiling”. Each day is an opportunity to expand the definition of who we are. 

I am taking this time to allow myself to heal, forgive my mother for the bumps in our relationship and redefine my life the way I want.

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    Imaan’s work is driven by a desire to dismantle popular Orientalist narratives towards Muslims and South Asians.