When I was a little girl, I had always spent too much of my time wondering who I would be, where I would be and what led me to become the person I was going to be at twenty-three-years-old. I was nine-years-old when my mind took up too much space wondering who I was going to be in fourteen years. I am now twenty-three-years-old and I believe that this is the right time to authentically share with you who I am. It is by far, nothing close to what I had imagined as a child, given that a child’s imagination is more unrealistic than reality itself.
I have walked to Hell and back. It was a long and strenuous walk- it was even longer on my way back home. However, if it was not for that trip to that very dark place, I would not be in medical school learning how to save lives, writing to inspire others, and showing the utmost gratitude for the beauty that lies within our very own lives.
When I was a little girl, I was ashamed to say that my mother was alive but not well. My mother was mentally sick- a drug addict and a prostitute. I was ashamed that my mother was not mentally well. Now as a twenty-three-year-old woman, I am not ashamed of who my mother once was because my mother was a stranger to me- she was absent for my entire life. If I feel anything towards my once estranged mother, who is now deceased due to a drug overdose, it is hurt. Apart of my heart still aches- never having my own biological mother provide me love, protection and nurture. A larger part of myself hurts for her, the hard life she had once lived and that her mental illness took her life away from her too soon.
I grew up as a daughter that knew one thing about my the woman who was in labor for thirteen hours to give me life: she had never deserved the title of being called a mother, because being a mother is privilege, it is absolutely not a right. And as an adolescent now, yes, I am genetically connected to her, but being genetically connected to someone does not mean that they define any ounce of your being.
I had a fear as a child that I would one day become my mother. That fear was driven from what I knew of her, and as an innocent nine-year-old, I had grasped that she was not a good person. I believe that is why at nine-years-old, I was planning out my future as an adolescent for my very own rhymes and reasons- I wanted to be everything my mother wasn’t.
I had hit rock bottom several times in my early adolescent years. I believe that sometimes we have to break in order to truly find ourselves while simultaneously mending ourselves back together. I clearly remember each time my face hit the pavement and the main reason being: I let my mother’s wrong doings define me as a person- as her daughter. I was convinced that I was her- a woman filled with hurt, selfishness and hatred. I was convinced that my mother was apart of me, and if anything, it shook me, broke me and kicked me to the ground each time.
In life we are given the most beautiful gift: to learn. Whether it is learning how to tie our shoes, drive a car, write out a check, or to learn that we are the curators of our very own lives. Personally, it had taken me a very long time to come to this realization- I am my own person and that I have full ownership of my own being. I am not defined by anyone, especially by the woman who chose to give me life and found it in herself to change her mind after I her daughter left her arms after birth.
I have stumbled over one too many potholes on my walk to that very dark place. I had hurt others, failed the ones who did not deserve to be failed and with doing so, I had found that I was hurting myself just as much. I was in a pitch-black environment for a couple of years, but when I chose it was time to walk back home, I was absolutely determined to taking the very first step: letting go of the idea that I was not a replication of my mother. I was not the woman who had given birth to a child and found it in herself to abandon a new-born.
I hope sharing this piece of my life can enlighten those who are in the midst of trying to find themselves. Finding our most authentic selves does not happen over a time span of two years; finding ourselves takes our entire lifetime. However, never let anyone define who you are as a person. If we are given any choices in our lives, one choice is to choose be who we want to be. I have now taken pride in letting my deceased mother’s actions that she had made in her lifetime be hers and hers only.
As a nine-year-old-girl, I wanted to be anything other than my very own mother. As an adult now, I am who I want myself to be: kind, compassionate, sensitive, empathetic and a heart filled with overwhelming love. I chose those qualities for myself and you have the option to do so, too. Ginni Rometty once said, “Don’t let others define you. You define yourself.”