While the loss of a mother is devastating at any age, one of our readers reached out to us to share her story about losing her mother at the age of eight and the series of events that transpired after. She asked for her story to be published anonymously. This is her story:
Tell us about yourself! What drives and inspires you?
I’m 21 years old. What inspires me is the fact that I know that there is a better tomorrow. I’m self-driven and being an only child who was orphaned and then adopted, I have to face the fact that no matter how hard things get, I have no choice but to stay strong. I cannot back out. I have to face the struggles and the pain. All I know is I am needed for my future.
Tell us about your upbringing?
My mum was a single mum and would do everything to see to it that I ate and that I went to school. She had numerous guys who she would go out with just to get money. She was pretty young when she had me, she was 18. Everything she did she had to include me in it. I remember a time when I slept on the couch. I couldn’t share the bed with her because she was sleeping on it with a guy.
At times I would go to clubs with her. She would drink and I was just beside her. I would be drinking soda. She taught me how to dance and I would do that on the dance floor. People would see a small child who really knows how to dance, and they would make sure they gave me money. That money would be used to pay our rent, my school fees and everything I needed.
[My mother] passed away when I was eight, and she was 26. I remember the news was broken to me when I came home from school and I was told my mother was no more. By this time, I was staying with relatives [who later adopted me] because she was always up and about trying to find money. When I was told, I was not shocked because I knew I had people who could look after me. I remember I was told that she’s no more and there’s no reason to cry. And I am telling you that that pain of not grieving and not mourning her impacts me each and every day that those memories come into my mind.
What were you told about her death?
I know she was sick because I saw it. Some people tell me that she was HIV-positive, but when I reached out to her sisters and ask them about the circumstances of her death, they told me that she was not HIV-positive, but had cervical cancer. I battle with my thoughts because I don’t know which story is true. There are many people out there who make it seem as though she was just out there and this was the [consequence of reckless living]. But her sisters told me she was a good lady and she only hang out with all those guys because she was a tomboy. She never slept with them. From me, it hurts because I don’t know the real cause, and I’m not sure if she even passed away. I’ll just say that I have not been able to move on.
How has her death impacted you emotionally?
What hurts right now is that as I’m adulting, I understand these things more deeply than when I was eight. The fact that I don’t have a mother around and I cannot open up to someone, and if I do, I’m painted with comments of how weak I am. It’s what makes me feel her absence. At that time, when I was young, I did not feel the absence because of everyone else around me, but now that I am maturing, it’s just sick how I would ask for something or ask for advice and people would [say] I am a weak person.
What’s always on my mind is the fact that I understand and tell myself that I wish that my mother was here because she’s the one who gave birth to me, she would have understood every part of me – why I behave this way or why I do things a certain way. I’ve had a hard time identifying my personality. The fact that people want to sway me around because they know that I have no one to turn to has made me think or see people differently. They are taking advantage of me or taking advantage of my finances and my emotions mostly, which hurts.
What was the biggest change for you after your mother’s death?
Being an only kid and being adopted into a family with other the children, it’s something I had to adapt to [because I was] used to staying alone and then you have people you have to share with and it has really made me learn how to live with people.
I actually remember a time where I had to change schools and at my new school, I was the new kid. I remember one kid came to me and said, “Hi” and for a moment, I was silent. She went on to tell me, “Go get silent on your mama’s grave.”
It hurts till today because I believe that when someone says hi to you and you don’t say hi back, they should understand the fact that maybe you’re going through something. It’s something that I’ve been battling with. Many people have hurt me revolving around my mother’s death because they always have something to say about it.
How was life as a teenager living with your adoptive family?
I have a small body. When I started secondary school, I started maturing physically and I remember a time when we were watching a comedy show as a family. People were laughing and I ended up smiling. The following day, I was called by my adoptive mom and she sat me down and told me is that I gave her husband a seductive smile. I didn’t take it negatively at first, but now that I understand myself better now, I think that I’m a type of person [who] is patient and does not take things as a big deal at first.
I took [her words] as advice, but what hurt the most was that it went on and on and I started failing high school. On the other hand, the husband asked me why I was failing, and he would get upset because he was paying the school fees. I was in a dilemma – should I tell him what I’m going through, or should I just keep quiet?
What was the breaking point for you?
[The conflict at home] went on until I was done with high school. I was so broken because I was at a point where I didn’t want any human interaction. I used to lock myself in my room, and what hurt the most was the fact that what I was being accused of revolved around the things my mama used to do when she was alive.
People tell me, “You look so much like her physically, and we think you can also do the things that she did.” And to me, I was so mature as a kid to the point where I knew what she did, and I knew I did not want to end up like her. I told myself I didn’t want to do the things she did, and I wanted to make a difference and break the family curse.
I was just a high-school kid, yet I was accused of having sex with every guy that came around me or spoke to me. And what hurt the most was the fact that I was accused of doing the same with my own adoptive dad, whom I really respect.
It broke me to a point where collecting myself is still hard, but I have remained so strong in a way that I have never gone astray.
How did the accusations affect you?
I became introverted – not by choice, I was forced to not trust people, yet I believe my calling revolves around people. I have this positive energy and I am able to pump positive energy into people who feel low. It’s taken a long time and a lot to know my purpose. I really have to fight hard not to follow what people are saying. The tongue is a little thing, but it impacts a lot.
What do you believe your purpose is?
After I did a deep search into my personality, I found out that I’m an introvert but the best part is that I’m an empath. I feel all types of energy and I try to help people who are hurting. There are a lot of people who are battling a lot and I find myself feeling different emotions that people are carrying out there. Most of the time I find myself starting conversations with people and making them feel better. One thing I love about me is that what I check my chats and communications with people, they always reach out to me and ask me about the things that they’re going through. I’m the type of person who will never tell somebody to do what your mind is telling you or your heart tells you to. I definitely give them the steps on how to do things.
Where are you in your healing journey?
I may be self-driven but without God, I don’t think I would have been this far becausesometimes I’ve been suicidal. There are times I’ve had very bad thoughts of revenge. If it weren’t for kneeling down before God and giving it all to Him – all the bitterness in my heart, all the pain and telling Him the way it is – I wouldn’t be here. There are times when I had what I call “silly prayers.” They are prayers to God where I have said “You know what God, if I was not meant to be, just take me.” I tell God these things.
There’s no other human that understands me, but there’s a God who understands me and knows that this girl has nobody to tell her things, but I’m here for her. And most times I’ll be feeling so awful about myself, like I don’t belong, I don’t fit and nobody quite understands me; but after I’ve cried it all out to God and end up sleeping with my pillow soaked in tears, there’s one thing that comes in the morning – when I wake up feeling like I just got something off my chest. I’m happy for no reason, as if there’s somebody who just carried my burden.
I’m alone and I have a lineage to continue. If I end, that’s the end of my family. I do my best to help people because everyone deserves to be loved and to be cared for.
What advice do you have for a woman out there who is trying to carve out her own identity but constantly judged for someone else’s choices?
My advice for other people out there is take everything to God. You will look for closure and advice from people, you look for everything from people, but people will never ever take the pain from your heart. They only let you forget it for a moment.
I prayer and I write letters to God, sometimes I even post them. I always tell people that there is God who takes it all away and carries it for you. Don’t expect people to make you happy.
The final quote I’ll tell you is, “The last man standing is always the winning man.” What it means is stop giving your problems to people. Just be alone and ask God for everything you need. A song that motivates me to move forward is “I Can’t Give Up Now” by Mary Mary. It says, “I don’t know the mountains that will come my way and I don’t expect things to be easy, but the one thing I know is that I cannot give up now.” [paraphrase]
Got a story to share? Have you been through something that threatened to break you? We’d love to hear how you overcame and are using your pain to fuel your purpose. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to our Contact page to drop us a line!