Accepting Help & Learning A New Way of Being

My views on social topics like friendship, love and marriage began to reflect things that were eating me up inside.

“It became a song I sang even in relationships. Be strong, be silent, tomorrow is another day.”

Rumbi*, Friendship Bench Client

My mum passed away when I was 6 and my dad was in and out of relationships from then. I became angry at him for moving on and not mourning my mum for as long as I wanted him to. I was also exposed to a lot of emotional abuse by the different women I was made to live with. I hated my dad for letting me go through all this and even for my mum’s death. Everyone I opened up to told me to hold on a little longer, work hard in school and get myself out of that situation. It became a song I sang even in relationships. Be strong, be silent, tomorrow is another day. So, as you may have guessed my relationships didn’t go so well. If it wasn’t cheating it was lying or what I later realised was abuse. And what would I do? Cry myself to sleep, forgive and move on. Or so I thought, the reality was that I was brewing anger in me and I didn’t even realise.

I thought I was alright until a friend of mine pointed out that the way I speak about myself shows low self esteem. My views on social topics like friendship, love and marriage began to reflect things that were eating me up inside.

The most difficult part had to be accepting that I needed to talk to someone. It was also the wisest step in my healing. My friend got me to Friendship Bench and I had sessions in person then online due to the national lockdown.

Having someone to listen whilst I talked about everything, from what I had been through to how I felt and why I felt it helped a lot. I forgave my dad because I realised that by forgiving him I was released from my resentments, I learnt how to communicate my needs and talk about my feelings to him. I got to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean that people won’t hurt me again but that I will not judge them from past experiences. I left relationships that disadvantaged me and I have been better at voicing out my opinions and feelings in a way that doesn’t trigger fights but also leaves me at peace.

I am proud of myself for going through the sessions. I am at peace from within. A load I have been carrying for a long time has been lifted.

I’m thankful to Bernice from Friendship Bench for being there and checking on me.

* Names and certain identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Life as a young adult with an unwanted pregnancy

I had used the whole safe period method and I also took a morning after pill, so I was certain that I was not pregnant until the day I missed my period.

“Being alone and having no one to talk to is the worst feeling ever.”

Kuziva* Friendship Bench Client

My name is Kuziva*. I’m a 20 year old girl and I’m a University student in Zimbabwe.

I was going through post abortion depression. This all started after I aborted the pregnancy that I was not prepared for. I had used the whole safe period method and I also took a morning after pill, so I was certain that I was not pregnant until the day I missed my period. Thereafter I took the pregnancy test and it tested positive. I was extremely shocked and from then I cried every single day. I was not ready for parenting, l was in school and was afraid  of  the drama that would come after my parents knew about the pregnancy.  I knew that I could not keep the baby because the circumstances that  I was in could not allow that. l decided to seek help. A friend of mine linked me to some ‘professional doctor’ and the abortion process was carried out successfully.

However, once the abortion had been done, I was left with a lot of negative feelings. I started to question myself, l had feelings of regret and guilt. I could not forgive myself and the abortion haunted me day and night. I felt like a murderer and I was also scared that maybe I had lost my chance of being human again. I felt l had lost the only chance  of having a baby. I was not able to open up to people around me. I always looked okay around people and yet inside l was suffering. Every time I thought about the abortion I would break down and I cry, every night since it happened I would sit at night in the dark scared to close my eye, and again I would cry, I think the exhaustion from crying got me to sleep.

In one of WhatsApp groups I was in, there was a discussion on depression. After that discussion l knew l was going through depression and l needed someone to talk to. One of the facilitators in the group posted a flier for the Friendship Bench Online Sessions. It was then that I realized that I needed  help and immediately booked my sessions. The online sessions helped me  express all my fears and worries without being judged. It really felt like a safe space for me  to talk about  what l was going through and after each session l felt empowered to take on life again. I have managed to open up about my experiences and it has given me the courage to help people with the same situation as the one I had.

My life has a new meaning now. Being alone and having no one to talk to was the worst feeling ever but now I know there are people to talk to who won’t judge or criticize. The Friendship Bench is for everyone.

* Names and certain identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.