Footprints of a Survivor is a weekly column written by Kim Mukwa, a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Each week, she reveals the layers of pain she lived through, the damage it caused and the steps she is taking to heal emotionally.
Throughout my life, I have had quite a number of mother figures. They’re a strong breed of women who have instilled in me the value of prayer, faith and persistence. In spite of that, the desire to hear what advice my mum would give me for every transitional phase of my life still lingers every day.
I remember seeing other family members with their mums and the pain in my heart would just be made worse. I remember when my period came around that even though I had read and learnt about it, I still did not know what to expect or experience. I ran to my aunt, who was the closest thing I had for a mother at that moment. She gave me a brief lecture on how I was now a woman and that I should never play with boys. Of course, that did not deter me from exchanging letters with the boys, lol.
As I grew older, like during my teenage years, the desire for my mum somehow died a little because now I had my peers who got me going. Boarding school life was my safe escape. The absence of my mum would only pop up during visiting days when parents would visit their kids. That’s when my heart pulled. Otherwise, I drifted along with the others until after completing my Ordinary level, which I excelled in by the way.
The day I collected my results, I cried as I yearned for my mother, whom I wanted to share that moment with. I kept wondering how she would react and what she would say. Nonetheless I thank my aunts who always emphasised that one should make hay whilst the sun shines. That’s my mantra to this day. It encouraged me to work hard.
I got pregnant when I was 19, just after high school. If my aunt hadn’t told me I was pregnant, I would not have known it. I was a child. I was clueless with no one to guide me on what to expect.
I learnt to be a mother on the job. I guess it’s the same with every woman, although others have someone to guide and assist them. I was basically alone.
That’s when I yearned for the presence of my mum because I knew she would have somehow carried my sorrows. I remember one day, I just broke down in tears. I just wanted my mother’s embrace and for her just to tell me that everything would be alright. At that moment that’s what I wanted. Because I was barely a woman when I became a mother, my mother-in-law became a mother and mentor to this day.
It would be a lie to say that I have gotten over not having a mother, especially now that I have my own kids. I know she would have loved her grandchildren.
I am in debt to the throng of women in my life who have tried to fill in the gap in my life: my aunts, sisters, mother-in-law, as well as friends. Even though I know the pain won’t easily go away, I have now taken ownership of it and am striving towards healing.
I strive to be a better woman, mother, sister, wife and friend even in the absence of my mother. All I can do is keep putting one foot forward and trying until the path is made clearer because the reality is that she is never coming back.