The free woman

 

There are many things that we talk about without really talking about them, like the legacy of unhealed wounds passed from mother to daughter, generation after generation.

Many of our mothers had no idea that they could be free, so when they nursed us, they wrapped their arms around us, and it was love but it was also a prison. It was high walls that kept us in without keeping danger out. They wanted better for us — of course — but they did not know what better way was.

If my mother could see me now, she would probably not understand me. She might think of me as lost because she never saw a woman who was free. She wouldn’t know how to recognise a woman finding a home in herself, not running on empty for others, not peeling her skin to cover the angry wounds of men who could never choose her in return.

“My mother was a good woman who loved a God who demanded sacrifice, who married a husband only too happy to be the altar on which she offered herself, who lived in a society that saw a woman’s broken back and called it a virtue. Everything she taught me came from there. But she loved me, and love has its own magic. She loved me with her whole, entire heart. And she was so proud of me. She never ever taught me shame. She trusted me to know the truth of my life. She watered my voice so I could use it without fear, planted my feet so I could pursue my dreams, poured herself into my own heart so I would always have love to give. She just did not know that it was possible to turn that kind of love inwards. I do not think she knew that women deserved that kind of love”.

But I know. For her sake, for mine, for my daughter’s sake, I have learned this. If I could see her, I would tell her that a woman can love herself with her whole heart. A woman can come home to herself. A woman can cover her own wounds— she can name them as real, recognise that she should never have been wounded in the first place, corral her considerable capacity for care for her own sake.

A woman can heal. A woman can be free. The words can be said. The wound can close.

To all women, mothers, and daughters; from OluTumehin with love.

OluTumehin Adegbeye is a Nigerian speaker, writer and advocate.

 

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