In this special conversation, Kate and Karen will weave together their respective areas of expertise: How age-old fairy tales reveal patterns in the heroine’s journey and how having a difficult or troubled relationship with a mother impacts the real life journey of her adult daughter. All daughters go through passages in maturing, but the experiences an adult daughter goes through when she has a difficult mother can be more challenging. What happens when the stages of her heroine’s journey has no loving mother?
In the classic fairy tales of the heroine’s journey, long suppressed or Disneyfied, the loving mother dies and the daughter is left to the whims of a wicked stepmother who seeks her stepdaughter’s downfall out of spite and jealousy. In real life, it can be the birth mother herself who is envious and resents her daughter’s successes.
For example, in one of the thousands of versions of feminine quest worldwide, in the German fairy tale of “Snow White,” the loving mother who longingly wished for a daughter dies in child birth. She is immediately replaced by the envious, vain, predatory stepmother who seeks to destroy the stepdaughter. Snow White has no memory of her lost, nurturing mother.
In real life, a daughter who comes to know herself through the eyes of a narcissistic, abusive mother does not merge with her authentic, true self. The daughter has to teach and initiate herself with hard-won tools of self-reflection and re-patterning. Meanwhile, she is shamed, demeaned, and led to believe she is worthless.
Yet, the specter of a vicious, competitive stepmother shows up in almost every fairy tale of the heroine’s journey. What is her positive role in the universal feminine quest? How do we vanquish her?