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Episode 97 Transcript: Encore – How to Heal Your Mother Hunger® with Kelly McDaniel

KELLY: I think many of us as adult daughters have had a knowing, and that knowing looks different for each of us. It’s very unique, as unique as our own relationship with our mothers.

But it always kind of felt like maybe it was just something intrinsically about us that wasn’t quite right. And that feeling of either being a misfit or wrong, or just somehow we lost the rule book. We didn’t have the rule book for how to become a woman that we are proud of as we grew up.

I think so many of us with that feeling are gonna benefit from understanding Mother Hunger. We can learn which piece was missing, nurturing, protection, or guidance. And when our healing efforts can get more focused, because we have a name, now we have a formula, we can earn the security we lost. 

NANCY: Hi, and Welcome to Your Permission Prescription, the podcast that teaches you how to confidently say yes to you and consciously create the life you desire. I’m Nancy Levin, bestselling author, master life coach, and founder of Levin Life Coach Academy. 

But it wasn’t too long ago that I was a burnt out people pleaser, living my life for everyone around me and ignoring my own needs. Fast forward to today and I’ve successfully coached thousands of recovering people pleasers to set boundaries with themselves and the people around them so they can live a more fulfilling life on their own terms. I created Your Permission Prescription to help you do the same. 

Be sure to tune in for actionable coaching methods from me, interviews with other incredible coaches, speakers and authors, plus one-on-one live coaching calls, and so much more. If you’re ready to start saying yes to you, then you are in the right place. Let’s dive in

NANCY: Welcome back to Your Permission Prescription, I’ve got an oldie but a goodie for you today, I am sharing an encore of the episode I recorded with my friend and mentor, Kelly McDaniel on her groundbreaking book, Mother Hunger. So we first recorded it just as the book was coming out now the book has been out in the world it has been receiving massive accolades and I myself, am very proud to let you know that in addition to being the Founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, I am also a Mother Hunger Trained Facilitator. 

And in fact, i’m offering a daylong workshop on April 22, 2023 called Mother Hunger: An Exploration, What It Is, How It Impacts You, and Ways to Heal. So even if you listened to this episode right when it came out, I encourage you to listen to it again. And if it’s new for you, I hope it touches you. And I hope it awakens in you answers to a struggle you may not have been able to put a name on and also offers you hope and possibility of healing. 

The daylong workshop with me is live on Zoom, Saturday, April 22, 2023 and you can join us by going to nancylevin.com/motherhunger, once again, nancylevin.com/motherhunger all one word and i certainly hope you’ll join us for this daylong exploration. 

Okay, and now to our episode with Kelly McDaniel about Mother Hunger.

NANCY: Welcome back to another episode of Your Permission Prescription with Nancy Levin. And today I am overjoyed to be joined by my guest, Kelly McDaniel. Kelly is a licensed professional counselor and author specializing in treating women who struggle with relationships. As the first clinician to name an attachment injury as “mother hunger,” she explores the legacy of maternal deprivation. Her new book out with Hay House on July 20th is called Mother Hunger, and it speaks to the millions of women who suffer with a lifelong emotional burden that adversely affects self-worth. It didn’t have a name until now.

NANCY: Kelly, welcome! 

KELLY: Thank you so much for that gorgeous introduction, Nancy, and I’m so glad to be here.

NANCY: Well, as you know, Hay House sent me your manuscript, your galley, a few months ago, so that I could write an endorsement for you. And the minute I got my hands on it, I read it voraciously. And, you know, as I was saying to you a few minutes ago, just the title alone, Mother Hunger, even if we don’t exactly know what it means, cerebrally, we feel it cellularly. 

KELLY: We do. I think that those of us who have mother hunger, the minute we hear it named we can experience a kind of invisible thud. Aha. A knowing, oh, a sense of relief that, oh, there’s a word. There’s a term. There’s a name. The body loves that. Our brain loves that when it finds the right words.

So I agree. I think it’s a cellular experience. And I have to really thank Hay House, first of all, for taking the book. But second of all, for connecting us. What a gift that they made that connection, you resonated with the book, and you wrote one of the most beautiful endorsements for Mother Hunger and I’m so honored, pleased, and grateful.

NANCY: Well, I felt as I was reading it, that it did put a name to something that I’ve always known, but did not have language for. 

KELLY: Exactly. I think many of us as adult daughters have had a knowing, and that knowing looks different for each of us. It’s very unique, as unique as our own relationship with our mothers.

But it always kind of felt like maybe it was just something intrinsically about us that wasn’t quite right. And that feeling of either being a misfit or wrong, or just somehow we lost the rule book. We didn’t have the rule book for how to become the kind of woman that we are proud of as we grew up.

I think so many of us with that feeling are gonna benefit from understanding Mother Hunger, understanding the spectrum of mother hunger. That it’s very different and how it’s different. And then I think it eases some of that feeling of low grade shame. 

NANCY: Yes. And you know, for me, there has been such a dovetail in the work that I’m steeped in, especially around looking at shadow beliefs and, you know, the beliefs that limit us and these underlying commitments that we formed as promises in childhood and the way that they become the seeds of the self-sabotage we feel as adults, whether it’s related to career or relationships or visibility and there is a real intersection around mother hunger. So to begin here, let’s give a working definition of mother hunger.

KELLY: Right, and and I think some of what you just said was pretty sophisticated. And I imagine many of your listeners are, but you just mentioned what I call kind of the hidden contract. We all have a hidden contract that we breathe in and I’ll just speak as daughters. We breathe in what it is we have to do, be or say to make our mother happy. To have her, maybe, tune into us. And we learn this usually before we have language. That is the foundation of a belief system about who we are and what our mission in life will be.

Whatever we did to earn her approval or love even before we could talk and walk is still in our body. That informs our belief system. And this is why I don’t always use the word self-sabotage because lots of what we’re doing as women that might seem to sabotage our career or our relationships, it’s automatic like breathing.

And I think the term self-sabotage almost implies that we kind of know we’re doing it. A lot of times we just have no idea we’re doing it. So to go back to your question of how would I define mother hunger, I have lots of different definitions, but a very simple one is a primitive attachment injury that impacts our mood and food and relationship with self and others.

Now, to expand on that a little bit, because I think it’s important for people to know, that attachment theory informs us more and more, and attachment theory is becoming the leading psychological theory. That explains why we do what we do, why we love who we love. And we’re lucky to become more well-versed in this, but the theory and the science says that about 50% of the population is securely attached.

Securely attached adults do not have mother hunger. They don’t resonate with mother hunger. That’s not who we’re speaking to. We’re speaking to the 50% of the population that has an insecure attachment style, and that can be either anxiously attached, avoidantly attached, disorganized attached, and that’s third degree mother hunger.

That’s who we’re talking to. There are so many different degrees of mother hunger based on the insecure attachment spectrum. That’s why it’s almost hard to find a universal definition. 

NANCY: I really resonate when you talk about third degree mother hunger and you talk about it as a relational burn.

KELLY: Yes. Yeah, exactly.

Because I think we can all resonate with what a burn feels like. And when we think about what a burn can do to the skin, how it can leave it permanently red and shriveled and tender, that’s what it does to our heart. Third degree mother hunger, just to clarify, is when our first attachment is also a frightening person.

So not all mother hunger comes from being afraid of our mothers. Mothering is three essential things: nurture, protect, and guide. And I’ll just say that again for people that haven’t heard this yet. What we need as infants is nurturing. We need protection. And then a little bit later, we’re going to need guidance. Incidentally mothers need this too, to be able to give it.

Third degree mother hunger comes when none of those needs were met, and the primary attachment figure, which in this case, I’m talking about the mother, was frightening. Because our two largest human needs are to attach and to survive – so our survival instincts wire us so that when we’re frightened, there are certain things we do. We can either fight, flee or freeze. Well, when we’re babies, we can’t really fight. That’s crying. We can’t flee. We can’t move. So generally when we’re afraid and we’re infants, we freeze. But what we really want to do is go toward our attachment figure to soothe us so that we’re not afraid.

But if the soothing attachment figure is the source of fear, we’re going to spend most of our infancy and toddlerhood in a frozen state. This can look like being clumsy. This can look like being bored or sleepy. This can look like having attention problems… cause we’re frozen.
NANCY: You know, when you were saying before about, mother hunger impacting our mood, food and relationships.

It got me thinking about, you know, so I will often say that we, especially for the people pleasers, the peacekeepers, the appeasers, and I know that you address that. You know, we have oriented ourselves toward packaging ourselves to be digestible to others. But I really think it’s that we are packaging ourselves to be digestible to our mother first and foremost.

KELLY: First and foremost, she’s our first love and our survival depends on her.

The belief underneath that packaging and pleasing is “Maybe if I do A, B, C, or D, my mom will act like a mother and finally love me.” 

NANCY: Right. So then, I mean, I know I can track it in my own life, how that pattern connects to pretty much every relationship I’ve had. 

KELLY: Every single one, this will impact how we are with our girlfriends.

This will impact how we are with our romantic partners. And we will often find ourselves replaying these in work environments. Yeah. 

NANCY: Fascinating. Completely fascinating. 

KELLY: It is fascinating. And I like the fact that you use the word fascinating. You have such a healthy curiosity. I think when we get roadblocked by people thinking that if we’re going to talk about mother hunger, we’re somehow blaming mothers for trouble. It stops the whole process and it stops the creativity, and that’s really unfortunate. Mother hunger has nothing to do with blaming anyone. I think that most mothers and grandmothers are carrying the legacy of what growing up in patriarchal culture does to our sense of who we are as women. Our bodies are distorted. Our sexuality is distorted. And therefore, many of us are so deprived of nurturing and safety, that it’s really hard for us to provide these for our children. And that goes back and every story’s different, but what is a universal factor is that many women know what it feels like to be afraid. We know what it feels like to be sexual prey in patriarchy, and so even well-meaning mothers who are frightened can transfer that legacy of anxiety. Sometimes it transfers in utero, you know, we’re swimming in our mother’s anxiety. And that has nothing to do with love. And that’s what I really want to emphasize. Many of our mothers loved us. Many mothers loved their babies and still aren’t quite sure what mothering even involves.

And that is where our society has done women and mothers and children, a huge disservice. So my hope is that this book is not about another way to blame mothers, but a way instead to kind of operationalize motherhood, what is it really? Because most of us don’t know. In fact, if you look up the definition of mothering in the dictionary, it says to care for someone as a mother would. But how is this helpful? 

So a lot of this book was simply what I had to do as a clinician to treat mother hunger was to figure out what’s happening, what was everybody missing? And when I finally came up with a formula I decided I really ought to write this down. 

NANCY: Yeah. So. There are a couple of things, you know, so you just said the piece about, you know, swimming in utero, which I resonate with a lot, given my own history.

And there’s also this other piece. I don’t remember who discovered this, but this piece about when our mothers were in our grandmother’s womb, pieces of us were already in process. 

KELLY: Yes within five weeks parts of the egg that would then become us were already in the building stages and that’s science and I’m not sure the origin, but Nancy, you said something really profound.

You said that you can resonate with the in utero experience from your own upbringing, and maybe you don’t need a lot of detail, but I wonder if you have a little illustration to make that concept something that our listeners can understand. 

NANCY: Of course. And I share, I certainly share about this.

So my experience of this is that I was in my mother’s womb after my mother had given birth to my brother who was quite ill. So I was swimming around in her fear, her anxiety, her neuroses, and my mother even told me in an adult conversation that when I was born, she didn’t want to attach to me because she was waiting to see what would be wrong with me, because at the time my brother had been born, it was the early 1960s. There weren’t all these tests that there are now, they didn’t know anything was quote, unquote, wrong with him until, you know, he didn’t do the things babies are supposed to do. And so my mother, and it makes perfect sense to me, you know, as an adult, cognitively, it makes perfect sense that she was sort of, you know, I was under scrutiny and she was waiting to see what would be wrong with me. And so there was a withholding, there was, you know, self preservation really is what I see. Or what I, you know, take it as. 

KELLY: She was braced, she was braced for grief and she was anxious.

And so you probably in utero could have already felt the rush of cortisol that comes with all that anxiety. Right. And what that does to an infant in utero is cause a freeze response. 

NANCY: Yeah. And it’s interesting because I very much relate to the self-preservation instinct. I very much relate to the bracing instinct and I never had children.

That was never part of my journey. My sister has two kids and it’s interesting because I remember when my sister was pregnant with her first child and my sister had already named her belly and my mother was really anxious about the fact that my sister had already attached to the baby inside of her.

KELLY: Oh goodness. There, you got to see it in real life happening and how your mother, just out of loving her own daughter, wanted to protect your daughter by saying, “oh, don’t, don’t do this.”

NANCY: Exactly.

KELLY: It’s amazing your sister was able to allow herself to go ahead and bond with her. 

NANCY: Yeah. I mean, it was interesting because my brother died when I was two, so he was almost six. And then my sister was born two years later. So my sister and my brother didn’t necessarily overlap. And I think that there was probably a different experience with my sister being born because my parents had already had the affirmative or positive experience of me being healthy. 

KELLY: Well said, they had had a reparative experience.

NANCY: Exactly.

KELLY: Yeah. Thank you for sharing.

NANCY: Yes. You’re welcome.

KELLY: They really relate to what we’re talking about as far as the epigenetic transmission of mother hunger.

NANCY: And I think that’s why, as soon as I got my hands on your book, I was immersed and almost obsessed because it made everything crystal clear.

And then I got the physical copy just the other day and I sat down this weekend and read the whole thing again. And now it’s very underlined, very dog eared. And I just feel strongly about anyone who’s listening right now and is sort of feeling that resonance or feeling that fascination or curiosity to pick up a copy of this book, because it really does help in a grounded way, it helps name something that we’ve always known, but sort of what you were saying before, we kind of may have thought like, oh, this isn’t really a thing. Or this is about my mother. But this really is about taking responsibility for our own experience and how can we heal and staying curious instead of going into blame or victim. 

KELLY: Right. And I think it’s hard to stay curious when we’re covered in shame. And the truth is when we are very small and dependent on our mothers, and I’m going to go through the three categories.

One, if there was an absence of nurturing and that involves feeding, touch, affection, holding, all of that… and lots of mothers were told “lay your baby down, let her cry it out in the crib, feed on a schedule, not when she’s necessarily hungry.” This is a nurturing injury. So many of us have a nurturing injury and we compensate as we grow up with food and with sex and love and fantasy. And I say a lot more about this in the book, but what I want to say is the belief that comes from lack of nurturing is “I must be unlovable.”


KELLY: When we have that belief, we feel ashamed. And when we feel ashamed, there’s a loss of curiosity. So it makes sense that not everybody’s going to hear this term and think, oh, goodie, I want to go learn more about it.

Okay, I just want to say that about the nurturing piece, then let’s look at protection.

If we’re little, maybe we had lots of nurturing. Our mother was cuddly, she was fun, she was playful, but let’s say that she herself was not safe in her environment or not really able to watch out and protect us from aggressive siblings or maybe her partner. So we had a lack of protection. The belief that comes with that is “I’m not worthy.”

Because if I were worthy, I would be cherished and protected. So underneath the belief of I’m not worthy is shame. So again, we’re seeing a common denominator, regardless of what was missing, is shame.

Then let’s look at guidance. Let’s say we were safe. We were safe as kids. We were nurtured as kids, but we got a little bit older and we realized our mom maybe hadn’t been able to develop who she is in the world.

She’s not really fully embraced who she is as a woman. And so we were kind of at a loss for finding a woman that we admired, a woman who inspired us, right. But it felt kind of awful that we weren’t proud of our mother. We felt a little embarrassed that she was who she is. So what did that feel like? Shame.

Okay. So I just want to focus on the fact that the essence of mother hunger, there’s a piece of shame. In all of it and shame gets in the way of our natural curiosity. So even if part of what’s happening is your listener’s hearing our enthusiasm for this topic but they’re not really feeling like… they’re either afraid or no, I don’t want to go there.

That’s really normal. I find that most of the clients who come to work with me because they’re finally ready to see and touch mother hunger, are well over 45 years old and older. You know, I think we will protect the bond of our mother, the idea of our mother, as long as we possibly can. Younger women come to this work if they lost their mother prematurely in life.

NANCY: Right. And I know you talk a lot about this in the book that we all can heal mother hunger, whether our mother is alive or not, whether we are in connection with our mother or not. So again it really comes back to our willingness. 

KELLY: It does. It’s a job that we will do on our own as far as identify what was lost. Was it nurturance? Was it protection? Was it guidance? And then find ways to replace it. And generally if our mother couldn’t do it the first time, going toward her again, to look for that love we want, the touch we want, the safety we want, or even the inspiration we want… it kind of sets us up to be disappointed again.

And many of us end up doing this with our partners and our friends. We kind of keep going to this empty well looking for water and that we learned with our mothers. So I really encourage women in the book to find other resources and I offer suggestions on how to do that. Obviously it’s a little bit easier if mom is no longer on the planet.

Because it’s pretty black and white. Okay, I can’t go to my mom. But when mom is around and you realize you can’t go to her, that hurts so much, you know, the instinct to think I want my mom is so wired into us, especially if we’re feeling sick or we’ve had a disappointment, or even if we have something to celebrate.

NANCY: Yes. So. I would love for you to talk a bit about the connection between mother hunger and, you know, addiction, food, sex, relationships, just a little bit about that.

KELLY: Sure. Happy to. And your listeners may not know that my first book was written for women who struggle with love addiction. So, it was when I was writing that book that I first kind of came up with the term mother hunger, and I was really scared to mention it because that was back in 2008 and epigenetics didn’t even really hit the stage til 2007.

So I was thinking nobody’s going to really, and I got a lot of grief for that. But when I wrote a second edition of that book, I expanded mother hunger, and that’s when women started coming to me, not necessarily just to deal with love addiction or food, but to deal with mother hunger, which is the root of that.

So if we think about our mother, literally, she is the biological source of our first nutrition and our first touch, which is how babies experience love. Not through words, but through touch and the feeling that love feels like. And we get the feeling of love through her tone of voice. The way she would hold us, touch us, clean us, get us ready for the day and the way she would feed us.

So if there is some rupture in that nurturing care, which like I said, can come from well-meaning mothers that were just following terrible misguidance from the so-called experts who advocate sleep training and feeding on a schedule. Like these things are not in service to attachment. They are in service to cultural expectations of parents that have too much pressure on them.

And that’s a much bigger systemic issue, but it has nothing to do with attachment. So many well-meaning mothers, unfortunately, created insecure attachment very young. So what little resourceful babies learn to do is associate the feeling of love with feeling full. Not necessarily with mom’s touch because maybe the baby was being fed, in a seat or with a bottle and not being held, or maybe mom was holding the baby, feeding the baby, but feeling so much stress or pressure that the feeling of pleasure was compromised.

It wasn’t associated with her as much as it was with being full. So a lot of us as women first experience pleasure with a feeling of a full belly, not with a person. Then as we grow a little bit older and we could crawl and we could get to the kitchen, we found ways to soothe our little achy, lonely selves.

And then as we get older that can, you know, turn into all kinds of ways of using food to fill that void where love and touch and security and nurturing should be. So those two things get linked up very young, very primitively. And when I am working with a woman who’s got a love addiction she’s always also got a food issue.

And when I’m working with mother hunger, usually we’re looking at love and food have become fused. Am I answering your question?

NANCY: Yes, absolutely.

KELLY: I think you also asked though, how could this turn into kind of a sexual addiction or a love addiction? 

NANCY: Or even just any addiction.

KELLY: Well the way I look at addiction is just a survival mechanism. Like we’re resourceful creatures, and if we don’t have a human connection, we’re going to find something that gives us a feeling of connection. And that’s what addiction does. Addiction mimics human connection because we get dopamine. We get a sense of warmth. We get a sense of we are momentarily lifted.

I don’t want to say high, but it does feel that like that, when you fall in love, you’re high for a little while. Addiction is a way that just is a substitute for human relationship. And so when the human relationships around us let us down, we’re pretty resourceful. And we’re going to find a way to manufacture a sense that we’re not alone.

The first two things we have available before we have drugs and alcohol, before we can go work too much. The first things we have available are our own body touching our little selves, food, and really our imagination. Like we kind of can start to manufacture that we’re safe, even if we’re not. We can manufacture that we’re loved, even if the people around us are not very loving, this is the beginning of fantasy.

And why so many of us, when we’re in a relationship as adults, we’ve created a partner that’s not really there. We already learned how to do that. 

NANCY: Right. So I have 1 million things going on in my head right now. So first I was really fascinated in your book when you talk about having like imaginary friends.


NANCY: So I had imaginary friends when I was little and I was not a very social person. I really kept to myself even all through high school very much kept to myself. I had imaginary friends. I also noticed when you talked about fantasy in the book, and you talked about, there was a piece I want to say it was in the Healing Mother Hunger part where one of the sort of healing practices you could do, let’s say, is watch a feel-good movie or watch, you know, something like that.

I notice sometimes that I would rather watch a romantic comedy than actually live the romance myself. And I have been aware of this for a while, but I have not ever connected it to really anything at all until I read this over the weekend. So it wasn’t even the first time I read the book, it was the second time I read the book that I thought to myself, why do I actually feel so fulfilled watching a romantic comedy movie, and that it’s more fulfilling than in my mind being in a relationship is.

KELLY: Have you come up with an answer or would you like me to expand on that?

NANCY: I would love for you to expand.

KELLY: First of all, thank you for sharing that, that it came after you read the book the second time, because I think that so many times that’s how learning happens. We’ll go through it once, then we’ll go through it twice. And each time it’s almost a new book because we got what we needed to the first time.

Okay. So back to what you’re saying. When we use our active imaginations as children, which is so resourceful, that activates certain neuropathways that become really well worn. It’s like a bike path. Like we’ve got these great bike paths in our brain. We know how to go down that path. So you’ve got a great bike path for a fantasy, and that gets so comfortable and that’s soothing.

And it’s really nice to watch it on TV because you kind of know what’s going to happen. There’s a formula, right? You’re going to go from A to B to C, whereas in real life, there’s no guarantee.

We easily get derailed from our bike path and we’re out there in parts of our brain that we’ve never been. And it is terrifying.

NANCY: Yeah.

KELLY: Yeah, in fact, I tell people sometimes when they’re having trouble with anxiety or whatever’s going on, and I’ll just say, watch a movie that you’ve seen before that you love because it’s soothing for the brain.

NANCY: So I remember at the very beginning of the pandemic, there was an article I think in the New York Times about why presumably women watch the same movies over and over again. And we will have, I mean, I have movies I’ve seen a million times, we all do. And we’re watching it for the predictability. We’re watching it for presumably some sort of safety and that we feel in control, I suppose, in some way.

KELLY: It’s very soothing. Yeah. It’s not an accident that during COVID while we’ve all been so frightened, especially early on, when there was so much uncertainty, we needed soothing. And for most of us the fear was so activating. It was hard to read a book completely, right. Took too much concentration.

It was really hard to even be kind to the people that we cared about because we were in pure survival mode. So to sit down and be able to watch a movie that we know what’s going to happen was probably one of the best things to do. 

NANCY: So sort of linked to that, I suppose, with the safety and control piece.

And I was really intrigued when, in the book there are questions that you pose to the reader, in terms of exercises to do or practices to do. And so when you were saying before about the feeling full and that might be the first way we construe love.

KELLY: Pleasure.

NANCY: Pleasure, so I completely understand that, and I want to ask you about the opposite. So I was not anorexic or a binger, however I was bulimic for several years. So I was a purger and I actually preferred the feeling of being empty not feeling of being full. 

KELLY: Right. Yep. Totally makes sense and here’s why. So if the feeling of being full and pleasure is something that you really have no control over, we learn pretty young “I don’t want that. I will be needless and I will be wantless. I will be empty.” And we get so comfortable with being needless, wantless and empty because that we can control, that we have power over, and that is what gets activated with the purge.

It brings us back to I’m clean, I’m empty, I got this. I got this. Now, incidentally, I think a lot of women do the same thing with the relationships. Like there’s something about when intimacy gets too close and it crosses our intimacy threshold, we will purge, we’ll bail. Because that is going to touch our vulnerability.

Like we’re going to have to have a need and a want if we’re going to be in that relationship. Nope. Not going there.

NANCY: Right. Yeah. I mean, that resonates completely for me, especially around, you know, one of the beliefs I know was imprinted when I was young was around, “I need to be self-sufficient. I need to be independent. My brother’s needs are more important than mine. Ultimately anyone’s needs are more important than mine. Therefore, you know, I should have no needs.” Which isn’t a great fit with someone who wants to intimately meet my needs because I’m presenting as having none. Which, of course, we all have needs.

KELLY: I know. I know. Yeah. We’re so resourceful, right? I mean, you figured out how to navigate the family system and you did it so well that then it’s like, oh – how to unlearn, how to have a healthy need, a healthy want. Yeah, that’s the process.

NANCY: Right. And so I suppose that we could say that the good news here is that once we’re aware that attachment injury, as you call mother hunger, that this attachment injury is playing a role in our life, is impacting us, we can set about healing it. It is healable. 

KELLY: It is healable. I think there are different degrees of mother hunger and third degree mother hunger is definitely much harder to heal than other forms, but attachment researchers and attachment specialists call it an earned secure attachment. Even if we didn’t grow up securely attached, we can learn our attachment style. And I think with learning mother hunger, we can learn which piece was missing: nurturing, protection or guidance. And when our healing efforts can get more focused, because now we have a name, now we have a formula, we can earn the security that we lost. That’s the hope.

NANCY: That’s the hope.

KELLY: Yeah.

NANCY: I feel like I could talk to you forever. And the good news is for anyone who is listening to this episode on the day that it is dropping, tomorrow, Tuesday, July 20th is the day that Kelly’s book is being born into the world. And Kelly and I are going on Hay House’s Instagram Live together so you can tune in and get even more about mother hunger there, and I’m sure that it will be saved and you’ll be able to find it at a later date as well.

And, you know, I just have to add this in, because this is actually really funny. I didn’t even think about this. My sister and I were going back and forth on text yesterday and I was telling her that I was going to be talking to you today. And then I said something about doing the Instagram Live for Hay House on your launch date, which, it wasn’t even really in my head, but my sister and I and her kids are going to be at my parents’ house when you and I do the Instagram Live. So I think it’s just perfect that I’m with my mother in the same house when we are doing the Instagram Live for Hay House.

It’s like a full circle moment.

KELLY: Oh my goodness. I could ask so many questions. I’m sure that is somehow divinely orchestrated.

NANCY: I think so, too. Yes. So again, the book is called Mother Hunger: How Adult Daughters Can Understand and Heal from Lost Nurturance, Protection and Guidance, and you can get the book wherever you get your books, and it’s going to be on audio too, right?

KELLY: It’s on audio and I’m happy with it, which surprises me. I don’t always like my voice, but we had a great team doing it. It was good.

NANCY: Fabulous. So for anyone listening to the podcast, if you have the Hay House unlimited audio app, Kelly’s book will be on there and will be included if you are a subscriber to that app.

Kelly this is such a joy. I love the opportunity to connect with you and speak with you and look forward to more.

KELLY: Nancy thank you for your thoughtful questions and also for sharing bits and pieces of your own story to illuminate how mother hunger shows up.

NANCY: Yes. One question before we go. I’m curious if you have something that you’d like to offer the listeners that they can give themselves permission around. KELLY: Thank you. I think permission to even look at the relationship you have with your mother is sometimes all we need. I think because sometimes we feel guilty if we do it. It’s taboo to be a good daughter and also question the relationship with your mom, that many of us just need the permission that it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you don’t love her. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad daughter. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It’s just part of being curious about who you are and why you make the choices that you do.

NANCY: Hmm. Beautiful. Kelly, thank you.

KELLY: Thank you, Nancy.

NANCY: Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you loved what you heard, I’d be so grateful if you’d leave a review and share your experience. Even better, follow this podcast so you never miss a new episode. And if you’d like some extra support or guidance, head over to my Transform Together Facebook group for an engaged community where you can speak your truth, receive inspiration and ask for help as you navigate life’s journey.

Or visit my website, nancylevin.com where you can find resources to help guide your path to reclaiming what’s truly important to you.

Thanks again for joining me.

Mother Hunger® @kellymcdanieltherapy and kellymcdanieltherapy.com, All rights reserved.