#174 – Heal the Mother Heal the Child with Susy O’Hare

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My guest today presents a real, raw, honest conversation about how, when we enter Motherhood and especially the 4th trimester, the triggers can come right up and be one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to mothering.

You will hear:

  • how our children are our mirrors and how sitting with ourselves and looking within provides great insight.
  • working together on ourselves as partners and the impact that can have on relationships within and around.
  • the last straw, learned behaviours and getting wrapped up into victimhood.
  • becoming compassionate with ourselves when triggered and tools, techniques and practices on how to get there.

Enjoy this conversation and all that it offers so we can create amazing relationships, bonds and change the world with our children and our partners.

To find out more about Susy, download her free meditation and find out about her book I invite you to visit her website https://susyohare.com/

We can change the way mothers are valued and seen in our society by having profound conversations and spreading the whispers of Matrescence together.

Find out more and receive the Matrescence map here https://amytkb.wpengine.com/matrescence/


Susie. Hi and welcome to the podcast. It's really lovely to connect with you. Hi Amy. I'm so glad to be here and thank you for inviting me on today. I'm really excited about what we're going to talk about because over the many years and the many thousands of women that I've spoken to and worked with, one of the things that I often hear is.

I wasn't even an angry person before I became a mum, but something, it gets triggered in me. I don't even know where it comes from. We have these emotional reactions that are towards our children that come out in motherhood and we often feel incredibly shameful. About it and don't know what to do. So the intention of our conversation is to really talk about these triggers and what to do with them and actually see them as opportunities to heal ourselves so we can help heal our children.

So let's start with you and your work in this. You're a mother of four. How did this all come about for you? How did you find motherhood at this time? How did I find motherhood at the start? Okay. So going back 14 years ago, um, I, I probably find it really hard. I didn't, in one sense. So in the sense of being all in, the long nights and the breastfeeding and the slowing down and connecting with the baby and everything, I just took that on just straight away, because I'd wanted a baby for probably six years.

What I did. And so all of that was beautiful and everything that I had wishful and manifested for, and it was just the ultimate. What I guess I didn't think about. How triggered you can get from your, from your children. That was the, that had people say, well, parenting is so hard. And I used to think, oh, you know, whatever.

And, but I was still, people were talking about the sleepless nights, little toddler tantrum, or maybe not having time for yourself as a mom or losing your identity. And all of that was like, yeah, I'm ready for that. But I guess I didn't, I didn't realize how much they could trigger you and trigger the worst.

And that really didn't sort of play out. I think until my eldest daughter might've been around two and a half three, because she was so fiercely independent and so fiercely headstrong and so theatre. And a genetic that wherever we went, people would notice and people would comment. And that would trigger me.

And instead of feeling or knowing about trigger words and thinking, actually there's a part of me and it's, you know, down to my childhood or what I feel about myself, I would look at my daughter, you know, why is she so energetic? Why is she so competent in herself? Why is she so hard to parent? And that then started to bring in a disconnect with her from a very early.

Uh, it's not there now. It's beautiful healed, and she's amazing. She's almost 14, and I didn't have it with my other children. I have another three children. It's my first child that was here. I believe for that reason. Yeah, it's interesting. I've heard that again. Something I've heard a lot with all of the women is one child in particular will be the strongest trigger or the one that they struggle with the most.

And they it's such a cliche Susie, but they really are. The teachers aren't. A hundred percent, a hundred percent. And I guess when you think about being a mom, I've got a little baby as well. She's six months old. And every time you get to a point where you think, oh, I've, you know, I've got this now I've got the sleep down or I've got the, you know, the potty training down and then it shifts and you change and you think, oh my goodness, I bet there's any just saying yesterday how I've mastered this.

Now I'm finding it's the same with my daughter as she gets older. So we could have a couple of years where I think, oh, this is so flowing. Right. And then bang teenagers hit. And I wasn't expecting that. So it's always moving. There's more triggers and more layers. And she's not aware that she's the child that's been here to help me in that way.

Uh, when she's older, I can kind of go through it with her and explain it to her and thank her.

Um, and just a little personal note on that. That's exactly what happened with my mother and I, we, I was a big trigger for that. A big one. And, um, we really did have years of, of being challenging each other and triggering each other. And now, especially once I became a mum, that relationship really healed and changed, and we can talk like that.

Now she does say you're the greatest teacher I've ever had, and we can reflect back on that. But, um, when you're in it, when you're in it, you don't always see it. So you've done a lot of work. Around around being triggered and the, you have a beautiful philosophy, which is the basis of your work and your book, which is instead of healing the child, we must allow ourselves to witness that our child is our mirror. So where did that lesson begin with? You? Uh, that would probably be I've written two books. And my first book was when I really started to understand, that we're in a sort of society that is really wanting to fix children, and from a really early age, uh, if there's an issue with the child's behavior, Then, you know, whether you see a psychologist, a pediatrician, an OT, whatever that might be.

And I know that they can be very supportive and helpful, but I feel that there's a huge link that we're missing on the mum. And I got to a point where I was just, everything was so foggy that I couldn't think what to do to help my daughter. We'd seen lots of different experts, teachers move schools.

We tried everything from medication holistically with. And I reached out to a friend and she said to me, how are you? You know, I know you're doing all this other stuff, but how are you? And I said, you know what? I am falling apart. I don't know what to do. I don't know what decision is the right one anymore.

I'm so confused. And she said, Susie, the mothers are the glue of the family and you can't help your family. If you're falling apart yourself, you have to fix yourself and only then can you support your children and your family? And I remember thinking, oh my gosh, that's me. How can I possibly try and do this when I'm falling apart, running from here to there.

And so it's that point that I started to go on this healing journey. Did lots of work for, for many years, I'm still in it now. Cause I feel it's ongoing for us all. And it was at that point when my husband said, do you know what he said? It's really funny. You've changed. And our daughter is so much better.

Maybe the issue was with you. And I got triggered by that. I think we all would. I think every woman just listening right now is like, he said, what? I think I've really done the trigger work, but so, you know, I probably reacted to it in a way or they shouldn't, but anyway, but when I sat with it, I thought, oh my gosh, she's right.

My daughter was my mirror. So when I was frantic and running through life at a million miles an hour, because when we do this, we stop sitting with ourselves and we start taking a look inside and really connecting with us. So with winning, running, running, running, she was just my mirror and my other two children where they could be happily playing very calm, quiet, but when I was stressed, my daughter would be stressed.

And it's the biggest learning curve for me to realize that. If she's off, I have to come back to myself And is that what you mean about what we can do when we feel triggered? So when we notice, our reaction to our children or when we notice ourselves getting worked up or that reaction.

To come back to ourselves instead of looking towards the person that has triggered up yeah. A hundred percent. And I think my husband started doing this work a few years ago as well, maybe even a two years ago. So he can quite actively say to me now, listen, it's not me. That's the problem. It's just triggered you because of that part of yourself.

That's wounded. Which he still can't believe that he talks like that at times. And then I'll say when he said that I did not say that, but he did. Um, and it's true. It, for me, it always comes back to the inner child stuff. I didn't have a connection with my own mother from the value of the age. I still don't been Australian for 20 years and that pain runs deep.

And so even yesterday we went for a beautiful mother's day lunch and I was triggered by a complete straight. Um, and, but, but what I did is instead of reacting, I just realized it's the trigger. Oh my gosh, it's the trigger. It's, it's not anything to do with that other person. It's me. I sat with it and just breathe for a minute and then thought what I'll, I'll come back to that later and I'll do some work on it.

And then I just carried on with what I was doing. And then later I just started processing and processing it. And it's when I had that aha moment. It was because it was mother's day. Um, and it's all, I kept seeing all these mums together and these daughters and it, it was making me so emotional for them because I thought that was so beautiful.

Even people we don't even know can trigger us. Now you think about road rage or whatever's happening? It's just being triggered because there's something going on with us. It's not always in a child of course, but how we feel about ourselves or acceptance myself.

What do you think about delayed triggers? What I mean by this? So delayed stress responses, I guess, is a better way to say it. You know, I too have done a lot of work around this over many years. I used to have quite a fiery volcanic. Uh, anger and it would burst out of me when I was overwhelmed or stressed.

And so part of, becoming a mother was this commitment to really working on, understanding myself around this way. And what I noticed over the many years I've been looking at this is, it can be the smallest thing that will go wrong. In the family, you know, we're, we're late someone can't find a shoe, that kind of thing.

And then when I give myself that time later in the day to reflect on what happened and why I reacted the way I did, I can see that actually it was something that I was really upset about. That happened two days ago that I hadn't dealt with or processed, you know, it was, I feel really overwhelmed that two days ago, That thing happened that really hurt me.

And I haven't dealt with that. I've silently carried that and then that shoe missing was the last straw. So this doesn't always have to be the immediate trigger or mirror does it, it can also be the underlying story that you're carrying of. It's always up to me or, you know, why is it so hard? I'm such a bad mum, whatever the story is, we're carrying that has from a few days ago that might still be within us.

So true. Oh my gosh. And I think that's happened to me so many times when, as you said, you might be playing stories in your mind as well. For me, I used to fall into victim hood a lot and it was something that it was a learned behavior because that's how my mom was. So I only ever saw her wrapped up in victim hood.

It was never. any joy from parenting. There was never any, you know, laughter or fun. It was always, it's so hard. And Alexa, like, it was a lot of that.

Um, but again, one of the things I've found as well, is this also healing in the anger and I have a practice. It's called EFT emotional freedom technique. And like you, I was going through a stage where there was quite a lot of anger.

And at times I was parenting with that and I was trying to be this mom and in the mornings and be so calm and one tiny thing would happen and it would all explode. And a couple of things I shared in my book was if you feel that as well, and you feel like you're getting chicken, it's about to kind of explode under the entire.

To take yourself away and take yourself on timeout and you'd go and just scream into a pillow in either room. I used to do that, get a bit of a sore throat, so you can kind of roar a bit from your tummy, but then other tools that I've used is to tap on certain points, just I'm calm, I'm calm. And I've done that quite a bit as well.

And another time was lower. I felt this, this kind of anger, this. And call it to the children to school. And I felt so angry and so many things have been happening again. I think all building up and I sat down on the floor and I closed my eyes and I just started to breathe with this. Which is something that we don't often do.

And then anger can kind of bring up shame, which again is not fair or not. Right. Cause it's just an emotion and it's very powerful. I started to breathe and to my heart, and then the Angus took me to some childhood stuff that ended up I'd forgotten about. I started journaling, I put in a meditation and I worked through it and yeah, that was quite powerful.

I think I'd actually been harboring a lot of stuff as well. It sounds like the way that you have really explore this for yourself is using a lot of different tools. But the very first one is to be willing to have a look at it. Yeah. That's the most uncomfortable one though. Susie, isn't it for everyone listening.

They're like, yeah. You know, to, to commit, to find the courage to commit. To say, and I'm going to look at what this is for me instead of looking at why she, or he's behaving that way. That takes an incredible amount of courage. Don't you think? I think that it's something that hasn't been taught to us as well.

And a lot of people tend to get to it when they are in chaos and they think, you know what? I can't do this anymore. And then there's that change? I think there's a. Difference that I've seen now in a lot of women that have been reading my books that are doing it before they have children or when they're pregnant.

And I think, oh my gosh, what a beautiful thing. but I think for myself, I just got to a point where I thought I can't kind of carry on like this. This is not the mum that I thought I was going to be. I didn't think I was going to be like this, like falling apart and.

You know, just self sabotaging and just being so down on myself. And then there was the whole fakeness as well, Amy, because on social media, I was sharing all these beautiful family photos and hashtagging about happiness and joy and love, but it wasn't like that. And you know, that, that was a big thing for me to have to say, actually, this my life isn't like this, behind closed doors and doing the work, it's not always pretty as you'll know, and it's not always hearts and rainbows and it can take you through some real, big dips. But I found that I feel lighter and a lot of the women that I know that have done the work and are doing the work and doing the healing are really coming home to themselves.

And it's, it's a beautiful thing, but yeah, very scary. Take some off courage. We've got courage. We can do it. We can, when mothers, and just thinking back to when your husband said, you know, oh wow. It was you and not the daughter that can also feel like a great sense of responsibility for many women of, you know, oh, so, well, this is my fault.

Yeah. What do you say to women who feel that? So you're saying that, you know, this may be what's in her head right now. Let's try and get him here. So you're saying that the reason my child is having these challenges is because I am not looking at my own challenges. So now I have to do that. What would you say to a woman who says that.

Um, well, I was that woman

and I remember that at that time in our marriage, it wasn't a great place to be. And I was really worried about it and it was very shaky. And when I think back now call says he doesn't remember any of that. Um, and he didn't understand that that's how I was, but I was thinking it was, are we going to make it is what I was feeling.

But he wasn't ready to go on his own healing journey. Um, I started to go on this big healing journey and went down lots of different paths and did it alone, which is fine, met some beautiful friends on the process and that's been really beautiful. And then two years ago, I bought call a men's course to go on because I knew that he had stuff that he needed to work through.

And I remember him sitting there saying, but there's nothing wrong with me. I'm completely fine. Everything's great. You know, almost feels like you're the problem. You're the one that can feel all over the place. You're the one that gets upset that you're the one that gets triggered. And I said that when I bought you for Christmas and I would really like you to go on on this course and that.

Changed his life and our marriage and our relationship with our children because, um, he was the sort of person that felt that any sort of mental health issue was a weakness. So if he ever saw me having to cry, which we do or having a wine, which we do and all of these different things, he saw that as a sort of weakness.

Um, but I just, I always remember reading a quote about. If you're trying to go on this healing journey and your partner doesn't want to, isn't ready to just go and get yourself anyway, because the changes that will happen in you, they will start to look at it for them because they'll see you so changed some couples.

They might not make it. They, you know, they might change, but that for me was, um, when your children see you doing the work and changing your children can change too. So it almost feels like nice. I had to go first as the world. It's not always the case. You know, this there's some man, I know that's gone on a healing journey and that part aren't ready.

Um, but I just kind of put my big girl console and just went forth and then it's been amazing to see the difference in Carl as well. Oh, thank you for that really honest insight into, um, into that whole journey. I know that would be incredibly comforting for a lot of the women listening, because they're the conversations we have in my programs and in my community, you know, he's not ready or she's not ready.

And I don't want to do it without them because I'm afraid if I start something will fall apart and you don't know where it's going to and up, you don't know, but it reminds me of that quote, which is it's more painful to see. Here then to not change. Like it's actually more painful to stay in the place where you are triggered by everything.

And then you do feel terribly guilty and ashamed that you yelled at your kids or you reacted that way. And then every morning you wake up and you promise yourself you're not going to do it. And then it happens again. And you get in this place where you just do not like the way that you are. In those moments.

That's when we have to say, I can't wait for you. I can't do it for anyone else. I have to do it for myself. Yeah. It's really inspiring. Thank you for that insight. You currently have a meditation on your website called the triggers are the guides, which everyone can download by going to your website. It pops up when you land there and you can get it for free.

What do you mean by they are our guide. So I feel, that when we are triggered, it takes us to the point of the pain. And when I started to learn about this, this work, maybe four years ago, it's interesting that I, if I look at family members now, when they get treated. I can see it differently.

And I almost don't, I don't get where it, you know, with families, they can get triggered, then you get triggered cause they got triggered and then you happen around, you know, Christmas and birthdays and Easter when we're all together. But I find when you actually start to unpack each trigger and work on it, layer by layer by layer.

Extend better. It so much, even in your family, because you can see other people getting triggered, you can, and then you can start to think. You just have more compassion for other people as well. Nevermind a healing you're doing yourself. You start to have compassion because you can think, well, I don't think about that person.

What they've gone through thinks about that child, or, you know, I've done this with some family members. So it's, um, but for me, I think, you know, explain to us the day about the trigger that I had yesterday and mother's day lunch, which was so random, but I got deeply triggered. And before I would've just gone a whole different way, you know, maybe even been a bit uppity about something that's not right.

And this isn't. And I thought, gosh, it's, it's nothing to do with that. I was able to stop pause, think about it. And then remember that it was probably in fact at that moment, I didn't know what it was, but I just knew I'd been triggered. I knew what wasn't going to go into my old repetitive story and behaviors.

I was going to stop. Pause, see my children's faces and calls face. We feel in the moment how beautiful this moment was with those, having this beautiful lunch together. And then I felt, you know, and I'll come back to that trigger later, but it ended up just evolving so beautifully long story, but it was just, I could get mango back on it later on in the car.

And I said, gosh, that trigger was nothing to do with that with a person. It was because of me, my childhood wound not having my mom in my life. The mother's day is a big day. I probably hadn't even thought about that. I was just so busy with the children. Um, and yeah, I think for our, my marriage with call, it's been so much better because when he says something to me, we can all get triggered with our partners and I trigger him.

But when he says to me to me, now I can feel, gosh, it's not. It's actually me and I know it's interesting, the more I've done this work and the more have embodied it and learn how to unpack it. I can physically feel a trigger in my body now. So if somebody says something to about quite often, I can hold my heart.

Almost like it's, I can feel that the pain here and that's been a new thing. And I think, oh my gosh, I'm actually physically able to feel. Um, and, um, and so many others, so many others are unconscious to triggers. We feel it's the other person, you know, the person in the car or the person at a school run the moment, the school pickup, you know, they're all friend or sister or mom, but actually it's all, all within it's all us.

And what I love about this experience of exploring this is that you also become incredibly compassionate, but also. Maybe not a hundred percent unaffected, but a lot less affected by other people being triggered. Meaning if you're just having a conversation or trying to explain something and you notice the other person just suddenly tips into anger or has a reaction instead of taking that on and reacting personally, and then you being triggered, like you said, family triggers each other.

I find it because of the years of compassion, I've had to practice towards myself and recognizing why I reacted the way I did or what's really going on underneath. I find I can do that for others better as well. So if I see someone has been triggered. I don't have to meet them there. I can look at them and think, oh wow.

Something I just said has really triggered something in you. Okay. It just, it allows you to have that compassion go both ways. Doesn't it? I feel as well. Um, one of the things I wanted to highlight is when I talk about in a healing of the heal, the child, That work is, has been transformational for me as a mother, but it doesn't always mean that your child is going to be this perfect person.

Let's make that clear. Um, and, but what I'm learning is when we do the work as moms. And our child acts a certain way. We're able to not enter the chaos, which is a little bit about me. Will you just say, not kind of enter the chaos, you can almost hold space for them, but who they need to be. And I find even like other people will say something about my oldest daughter or say something, you know, whatever it might be.

I don't fall into that trigger again. I think it's okay. Because I finally learned to love me and know that I'm enough and then I'm doing my best and she is who she is. And it's, you know, I think we take on too much as parents, we take on too much guilt and we have to realize that our children come through as their own souls as well.

So that's, that's been a real, that's a lesson for me at the moment as I raise a teenager. Yeah. I'm the same mindset, 13 and a half two. So my full sympathies and understanding with, um, with where you're at. Um, thank you so much. I think. We need to have more conversations like this as women and mothers and talk openly without shame about these wounds and these reactions, these emotions that we have, as you said, there's nothing to be ashamed about your anger.

It's just an emotion, but it's guiding you to look something. Yeah, it's guiding you to say all there's something there that's within you that needs to be looked at. And if we can do that, then we can, as you said, stay steady in the chaos of parenting sometimes in life and really create these amazing relationships and bonds with our children and our partners.

So thank you for the work that you're doing, Susie. Thank you, Amy. Thanks so much for having me today. I've loved it.

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I'm Amy.

I'm a matrescence activist - here to revolutionise the way you feel about yourself as a mama, and transform the way the world values and supports all mothers, everywhere.

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