so to start off this blog, I will share a little bit about my family and life, just to help you get the picture 🙂
I hope you enjoy..
I come from a family of five and am the oldest of three daughters; my parents are divorced and still remain good friends. I was born on the small island of Cyprus and grew up in Zimbabwe; even then, my crazy Greek culture never left me or my family. My house as you can imagine was always loud and full of excitement. We were girls only, so there were either hormones at work or friends coming and going (with their jokes, issues and drama).
We always had people everywhere with different personalities flying around, it was a joy. We all spoke loudly and expressed our emotions in shouts of joy or screaming, nothing under that tone of voice. When we were happy, we would scream and sad we would still scream. When we were angry, we’d scream or there were days where we just felt like screaming, it was nothing out of the ordinary. Many people are over whelmed the first visit to my home, but by the second or third visit they are basically adopted and adapt to our crazy characters too.
My mother is a Christian and so are my two little sisters. I gave my life to Jesus when I was younger but due to my natural rebellion I left the church shortly after I started my teen years. So much has happened since then and I saw the sudden turn in my life without Jesus, how far I went and how desperate I was to come back. When I left the lord, I saw how important He was in my life and how I changed without him, I became a different person. It soon made me realise that I needed Him in my life because the person I was becoming, was not someone I wanted to be.
My family has been such a support to me during the tough times in my life. My parents made such an effort to take care of me and be there for me when I needed them. My younger sisters are like my precious jewels, even though we fought in our youths, I look back now and see how much they went through and endured for me. I see them growing up and am amazed and blessed at how the lord has kept them and taken care of them.
Of course we were not the perfect family, but we were always a family that everyone wished to have. They saw our imperfection but they saw how we remained close besides that imperfection and I can only give thanks to the lord for that.
Coming from a divorced family, life got tough and I was left confused about love and marriage for a long time. There were obviously times of resentment towards my family, a form of hatred towards my parents and a constant annoyance with my sisters but it was nothing worse than the ordinary family. We all have our problems and issues in a family and even though my parents are divorced, we all had a special relationship and people still saw a close relationship amongst us when we were together.
I would like to take you a few years back to where this all began, when I first met Christ. I am not sure of my exact age but I had not yet reached high school. My mother took myself and my younger siblings to church every Sunday and occasional evening meetings during the week. I can’t remember much from these meetings except the music was loud, yet wonderful and my mom would bring us lots of toys to play with while the pastor spoke for what seemed, hours on end.
The older I got (old enough to skip ‘children’s church’), I began to listen to this pastor and each Sunday I left feeling something new and thinking about what was said (from what I understood).
Then one sunny Sunday I heard him preach about being born again; how important it is as a Christian. That you need to be born again to get into the kingdom of heaven. This replayed in my thoughts for weeks, until I grabbed the courage to ask my mom to speak to the pastor for me.
Finally I was invited to his house one Sunday after church, I was so excited yet extremely nervous for I had no idea what was ahead. We arrived at his house and I walked out my mom’s car and the closer we got to his front door I started to get second thoughts but we were already too close for me to back out now.
The second I stepped foot in his home, I felt a warm presence surround me, comforting and welcoming I felt over whelmed but it was wonderful at the same time. Tears filled my eyes and I knew something very special was about to happen.
Now my memory is vague, so everything that he said that day, I hardly remember! All I remember is being fascinated with every word he said and watched closely how he explained certain things using toys and objects.
Then I got asked, ‘would you like to accept Jesus into your heart? ‘Immediately I replied ‘yes’.
We prayed and I cried like a baby, not knowing why because nothing bad had happened. I’m guessing I experienced ‘Tears of joy by the salvation of my soul’.
I walked out there with a smile on my face 🙂
I loved Jesus very much and enjoyed going to church after that and reading my bible too. Although it was hard sitting there for many hours and from time to time I lost concentration, but I was young, so it’s normal!
I was just extremely happy that I was now a child of God and have Jesus living in my heart and I knew that I was going to heaven if I died.
My mom later on shared a verse with me and I kept it close to my heart, reading it as often as I could, proud that I had this special verse.
The Lord will guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs in a
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered
like a spring whose waters never fail.
It is still my favourite verse to this day for each word written there is full of truth and I have seen it come to pass in my life.
The older I got, the harder things became as life tends to ruin itself for you. At the very beginning when my parents separated, I struggled accepting it because I was not expecting it. It was strange not having one of your parents around, I am sure some of you can relate? My father came to visit us often, if not then every day we were lucky to see him, but it was still not the same.
I started to pray to the Lord and ask him why this happened and that if he can kindly bring my dad back home again. It didn’t happen. Again, I struggled for I could not understand what was going on. Being young and full of faith, I prayed more for the Lord to restore my family and like every child, hoped they would get back together.
When their divorce was finalised a few years later, I found myself developing anger towards God, blaming him for letting this happen.
(I guess the easiest thing to do in life is blame God when we are struggling, thinking that He did this to us on purpose, that He made this happen. It’s sad that we only acknowledge there is a God when something bad happens and place the fault on him.)
Being in church as a youth can become boring because all it is is church – home, prayer meeting – home, weekly meeting – home, youth meeting – home, Saturday we got free and then Sunday it all starts again. It is a tough age to be faithful to the lord; I remember that everything else looked so much more fun and interesting than the things and people of the church. I had opportunities to spend some time with the people of God but because spending time with my friends seemed more interesting, I started to drift away.
When I was around fourteen years old, I met a boy. Yes this is where the rebellion all began! He was a year older than me and knew a lot of people, ‘cool people’, in my eyes but to my parents they were all idiots. So I started to spend a lot of time with him and less time with the Lords people and slowly found myself wanting to leave the church. Of course I would go to church but my mind would be in the clouds, in love with this new boy of mine.
(Boys; as a young person we have emotions flying around and it’s the hardest thing to stay faithful to the Lord for we give into our weakness in the flesh. Which is what I did, I loved the lord with all my heart and wanted to serve him but because I was unaware of the power of my flesh over me, I fell into a trap that led me astray.)
We often hear the saying, ‘you need to find yourself’ so I tried doing that by finding things that I liked to do. One of those things was drinking with friends, it took up time and energy and it’s a way to meet people. When everyone is drunk they are more friendly and silly, I became the same for, in person I am shy and struggle meeting new people. But after having a few drinks, I am fun, loud, always running about, chatting and making the most of my evening.
By fifteen or sixteen I had left the church completely and enjoyed my new life, I enjoyed partying with friends and spending time with my boyfriend (a different one by that age). I hadn’t missed the church and argued with my mom every time she asked me to come. I was very stubborn towards my parents when it came to drinking and partying because I wanted one thing and they wanted another. My given curfews killed me and often argued for a later time but never got it, so I was looking forward to the day I was turning 18 so that I may do as I please and go where I please.
School was tough for me, mostly because my close friend went to a different school. It was also difficult for me to make friends as I always felt different from the rest. So like all people, I tried blending in by doing what they were doing. It was the same for when I had a boyfriend; I would hide under his identity and do what he did, speak the way he did, I even acted like him. I had completely lost my identity while trying to imitate everyone else’s just so that I can ‘fit in’. It’s a terrible place to be.
I left school when I completed my O’ levels (which is similar to matrix, GCSE and any other name you’d like to give it). It was the year I was turning seventeen and won the bet with my mom to leave school, (we bet that if I found a good job before school starts, then I can leave).
So I thought hard about it and searched high and low. Soon after at the end of December 2009, I left my waitressing job and started working as a swimming teacher in the beginning of 2010. I loved my job because I was once a good swimmer, I enjoyed being in the water and in the sun and loved the little kids (in the water only!)
Having my own income felt awesome and being able to pay for my own fuel, food and drinks made me feel so grown up. I started hanging out with the older crowd and loved joining in the ‘work’ conversations. I learned so much my first year leaving school. I remember doing the shopping for my mom and helping my dad at his work too, messing up, learning from my mistakes and trying again.
I was so much happier out of school because I was not around anyone that made me feel insecure and I had no one with me that made me feel I should be anyone other than myself. I had two or three special friends and they were all I needed, for they knew me well and loved me as I was. So partying time with them was always a blast and our lazy days of watching movies or going out for lunch or spending the day at the house were also special memories.
(By this stage in my life I had completely replaced the Lord with everything else, with boyfriends, my friends, my job and creating my life. I came to the stage where I felt I created my own happiness and my own life and that I had no need for the Lord.)
I remember a few weeks before turning eighteen my mother and I were discussing my curfew times and I had reminded her of the one time she told me that when I was eighteen I could do as I wanted. She looked at me and answered; ‘I don’t remember that, you do as you please when you leave this house, not while you’re still under my roof’
(I bet all parents are agreeing right now?).
I freaked out because everything that I had been looking forward to since my partying days started crashed! My father agreed and it finally clicked in my head that I could not have this freedom I had desired until I left home! And Like every teenager I planned out this whole, ‘leaving home’ scheme and wanted to go to England with my best friend and try creating a life for ourselves there. We thought long and hard about it and wanted this plan to succeed.
I was full of rebellion and vowed to do as I pleased when I turned eighteen, regardless of what my parents would say. No matter how loud they shouted, I wanted to do what I want because I could. I remember counting down the days to my eighteenth, waiting patiently for the legal age and then, then I was going to rebel more than before! I didn’t think of the struggle my little sisters would go through when I go through this, or the weight upon my parent’s shoulders trying to calm their daughter down and lead her in the right direction. I hated rules and being told what to do, especially by my parents.
(Us teenagers, we seem to have this illusion that we know everything.)
I can imagine how nervous my parents were the closer it was to my birthday, not that I blame them. I did throw hints that I was going to do as I pleased anyway, regardless what they said. ‘It is my life’ – a statement I used towards my father often when he would tell me to slow down on the drinking or go home at a certain time …
Finally the day has arrived, my glorious eighteenth!
Now due to the fact that I had only a handful of friends, a private party would have been depressing. So we all planned to meet out and get drunk! – Which we did. I left the house that night not giving my mother a time I was coming home, telling her it I will let her know a set curfew time later… (I didn’t).
I remember how foolish I was that evening, not telling either of my parents anything they needed to know and getting a call from my mother, early in the morning threatening me to come home because I had stayed out all night.
On my way home I knew trouble was waiting for me when I arrived, I kept telling myself not to let my parents control me and that I am 18 now, I can do what I want..
The arguments we had that day got me to realise that I probably won’t be able to do as I please until I leave…
My birthday was on the 16th of October 2010 and from then, I enjoyed being the ‘legal age‘ for I had something to reply back to people whom tried to tell me what to do.
The 30th of October arrived and we were on our way to an annual fire work party at a place called, ‘Ncema Dams’;
we had partied there the year before and had an absolute blast, so this year my friend and I planned to stay at her father’s caravan; which was based there, for the weekend. We brought food, drinks, cutlery, bedding and all the necessities for the weekend and we were on our way. We went first and my mother and sisters were following later to watch the fireworks. After we unpacked everything we grabbed what we needed and went onto my friends’ boat for a few hours, it was a wonderful sunny day so we caught as much sun tan as we could before it was too late, and we swam quickly before heading back to the caravan to get ready for the party.
And as we were walking back, I saw a small group of boys that I knew, they were talking amongst themselves getting all hyped up about their conversation and one of them called me over to say hi. So I told my friend I would catch up with her later. When I got over there, everything they were jabbering and getting hyped about made sense. So I stayed to listen and discovered they were talking about this jump into the water that they had recently done. They were boasting about the height and the feeling you get coming down and the adrenaline rush afterwards. I now understood why they were in this state.
It immediately caught my interest as I love these kinds of stunts, I have done many myself in the past; I had no fear of heights and wanted to try many extreme sports in the years to come. I enjoyed listening to them talk about it, they were explaining how you should land and that if you left your arms spread out, it really hurts and how to climb up, the height they jumped from and the story went on. I found myself paying closer attention. My eyes widened in excitement. So I interrupted, ‘can I join you next time?’, they all sat there in silence and starred; then suddenly all of them responded at once, ‘no you can’t do it you’re a girl, you’ll get scared and back out and …’’, it went on.
It frustrated me for I didn’t like people limiting me because I’m girl, so I managed to get them to let me try. And off we went; we went to a small boat that could barely keep afloat and more than a handful of people got in. We all feared it would sink on the way there, that’s how bad the condition of the boat was.
Now with all the commotion going on, the boys joking, laughing and making fools of each other, I didn’t watch where we were going. When we arrived I was stunned for I thought we were jumping off a cliff but it turned out to be the dam wall itself. The climb up was a bit of a struggle for we had to go up a small hill and around a huge gate that I needed assistance. When we got there, I looked over the balcony and thought, ‘it’s not that high’.
But then I saw them climbing up a ladder to the top of the building; so I followed. When we got to the top I saw them look out a small window that had been broken, so I took a peek and looked down and felt fear rush down my spine! This was high! (There had been a draught recently, so the dam was half empty)
They challenged me, ‘so you think you can still jump?’
…and of course I told them I could.
But I needed them to go first so that I can see it’s safe and off they went. It looked like fun and none of them were hurt, so it would be just fine for me. I was the last to go, they all stayed in the water and waited for me, cheering me on and trying to get me to jump, telling me it’s not that scary and I will be fine.
I sat on the window and looked out to the beautiful scene, I saw the entire dam, the sun reflecting on the water.
I saw the boats driving around and heard people’s laughter from the camp area, I saw the trees dance with the wind and heard the birds sing a beautiful tune, I felt the fresh breeze touch my cheeks and I looked into the heavens to see clear blue sky. Before my eyes could explore some more, I heard my name being called from below and they were still there waiting for me to jump. A gut feeling in my stomach told me to back down, that this was not a good idea. But I hated the feeling of being scared or being defeated because I am a girl. I knew the persecutions to come if I didn’t do it. So I sat there, on the window; debating with myself, whether to jump or not to jump.
I looked back and saw it was a long way to climb back down and the easiest way down, was to jump.
The boys carried on shouting below, their tone changed from encouragement to threats, ‘come now, jump quickly, we’re not meant to be here and we’ll get in trouble, people are watching, just jump’.
I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know why I couldn’t get myself to let go and jump. I heard them shout again, ‘don’t think about it, just jump!’ my heart began to race and I felt hesitated. Unsure of what to do, I took another look at the view before forcing myself off that window.
Finally, I let go…
As I was falling a rush of fear flowed through my veins and I felt like I was taking one last look on life, my mind escaped to a faraway place and drifted in the clouds, leaving my body to fall 30 meters (roughly) down into water and before I landed I came back to reality and became aware of the danger.
My last thoughts before hitting the water were, ‘this is it…’
When I took my first breath my body gathered all the pain it was enduring inside me and came pouring out my mouth in a loud moan. I had no control of it, I tried to cover my mouth with my hand and even put my face back in the water but I could not stop this strange cry that was forcing itself out of me.
My legs hurt, they felt so stiff, like something heavy had fallen on them and they were laying there frozen, I struggled to breathe, each breath I took seemed such a challenge, like there was a shortage of oxygen in the air, I felt like a fish out of water. My head was bobbing around for I had no strength to control it and I felt pain hit my entire lower body, from the waist down was burning in agony.
What is happening to me?
They tried lifting me up onto the boat, but I screamed for them to stop, I remember being held by someone, whom was holding on the boat and let my arms rest over his. I could hold onto nothing nor move any part of me. I heard the commotion going on around me, people panicking and trying to find a way to get me on the boat, they even tried moving the boat slowly towards the shore while one of them held me. But whatever they tried did nothing other than make me scream out in pain. After two attempts I told them to stop everything. I asked them to let me rest, for I was struggling to catch my breath…
Once they got their heads together, they started doing things properly, they brought back the half broken down boat which had a small plank on the end of it. We worked out with the boys where to hold me, two on my upper body, two on my lower and one pushing me from my legs, then there was someone soon after to support my head.
I took a deep breath and told myself to be strong for we needed to get out of here. We counted to three and they managed to get me on with as little cries of pain as possible. Finally we were on our way to shore …
Now, for some reason, everyone decided that they wanted to be on the boat I was on for. Knowing that the boat cannot hold many people, I felt it sinking on our way back! I looked down and saw my body begin to slowly (but surely) disappear under the water. I felt water creep into my ears and make its way to my eyes. I looked up to see if anyone was noticing but, they were all too busy dealing with whatever they were dealing with to notice anything else!
My thoughts….. ‘Great, I survived this jump now I’m going to drown!’..
I began preparing myself to hold my breath when this boat sinks for I knew I could not swim and feared people would forget to grab me; I tried very hard not to panic. When we arrived on shore, everyone jumped out and a few boys stayed behind to get me out.
They were carrying me by my arms, leaving my feet just above ground level to touch the dirt tip toeing. As we were walking up a small hill to my friends caravan they started talking, ‘don’t tell anyone what happened because we were not supposed to be there, just tell them you fell off a boat, or we’ll all be in trouble’. I could understand the fear they had for it was not their fault this happened, so I agreed to everything they said, promising not to get them in trouble. People were in hysterics…
The boys left me on the bed and got chased out by my friend so that she can change me, they managed to slip on my top and they covered the rest of me with a blanket because they could not put on any other article of clothing properly since I could not move at all. As she was helping me, she asked what happened and I began my lie; ‘I fell off a boat’, but the look she gave me told me she knew I was lying, so I told her the truth. She was furious! Then she opened the door when I was descent and people came rushing in and out, not knowing what to do. I asked where the boys I jumped with where and I heard that they had gone to jump again. One of them I never saw again that day, the others were in and out, only one or two stayed close to check on me.
We called a nurse in, since they refused to let anyone tell any parent, especially my own.
The nurse asked me if I could feel my toes when she touched them, she asked me to wiggle my toes and I could, she asked me to lift my hands and head but I could not.
She then told me I was fine and was experiencing a muscle spasm on my back, so I tried convincing myself the same. She gave me a pain killer and left.
The pain I was in was unbearable, I remember just wanting to be well, to walk again to stop feeling this pain, I feared not being able to move and was uncomfortable with people walking in and out the way they were. I tried to relax the situation by telling those around me I was fine and that it was going to be okay, cracking a few jokes here and there but deep inside I knew there was something wrong. ..
People were not handling this situation well, yes I’m sure they didn’t know what to do but they were very careless around me. I remember girls coming in and jumping on my bed while trying to sit down. They were offering me pills that I didn’t recognize and asking if I wanted anything to drink but I had refused everything not trusting anyone. I kept repeating myself to those around me that I was fine and it wasn’t that serious,(even though I was lying helplessly on the bed, unable to move) I was freaked out at my condition. I would hate my family to see me like this.
I then saw a little face pop in the back of the caravan and my heart raced for I didn’t want her to see me helpless like this … I saw the gentle look on her precious face, she came closer and smiled.
It was my little sister (the middle one). She and I went to a Christian camp in 2008 where the lord really touched her heart and changed her life, but for me it was the opposite, it was the time where I started my rebellious stage.
She stayed close to the lord and I saw him do many miracles through her, she always managed to be at the right place at the right time and tried inviting me to church a few times but I kept refusing.
She always remained gentle and true, I always felt confronted around her in the past for I knew the road I was taking was wrong and yet, I never felt judged by her, just loved..
So when I saw her walk in, there was nowhere for me to run or hide, there was no act convincing enough to put on to fool her that I was well… I was stuck. She stood quietly while everyone carried about their business and I softly said, ‘’everything’s fine’’ she smiled again and began chasing people out the room, my friend got frustrated being chased out, wondering why she had no right to be in the room since she is basically part of the family! But she left anyways…
I began looking around the room, nervous that I was left alone with my little sister whom is a faithful child of God.
She then said, ‘I want to pray for you’, when I heard those words, I immediately saw my state. A stubborn teenager, running from the son of God, claiming that I don’t need him and I can live my life fine on my own, now look at me? Almost paralysed on a bed, being unable to move and unsure if I ever will be the same again.
The first little tear made its way down my cheeks and I replied, ‘I don’t know what to say’ but she told me not to worry, that all I had to do was listen. She knelt down beside me, held my hand and began her prayer.
Tears continued to make their way down my face and soak my pillow. For the first time, I accepted a prayer, I didn’t walk away when she wanted to share the gospel (I couldn’t walk away anyhow), I didn’t fight with her or cut her off in the middle of her praying, I just listened. ..
I cannot remember a single word she said that day in her prayer but I remember being deeply touched and allowed the tears to flow without resisting and trying to be tough and pretend everything was fine, I was real with her.
When I opened my eyes, there was an assurance in my heart; I was going to be just fine.
My sister opened the door and my friend came storming in demanding not to be chased out again and that she is part of the family and deserves the right to stay! After we calmed her down, she later told us that a doctor is coming to check on me and joy came to my face once again. When the doctor arrived, he felt my back and placed his finger on my spine and pressed down, I yelled out and told him it was painful but he too was convinced it was only a muscle spasm; so again, I tried to convince myself I was okay. Now, it was a matter of time that my mother was due to hear the news about me. Unfortunately what she heard, were rumors flying around that aggravated her and I saw her and my aunt marching over to me. I was being held up by two of my friends whom helped me go to the toilet. She grabbed me, placed me over her arm, my aunt the same with my other arm and they began marching back to their picnic area. I couldn’t get a word to her because she was walking too fast which increased the pain to the point of me throwing up, which convinced her the rumors were true, that I was drunk and broke my leg.
I was taken to their picnic area which was of course, in the middle of where everyone was sitting so I was in view of a whole crowd of people. There were people everywhere and my mother was rushing from one end of the camp site to the other doing who knows what. Their picnic area was on a slope and I was in an extremely uncomfortable position, so luckily I had my little sister (the youngest one) who stayed and helped me by holding my legs to support my back
.An entire crowed formed itself around me, speaking loudly amongst themselves about my condition; some were saying I broke my leg, others I fell off a boat and a few came and whispered in my ear that they saw me jump off the wall (I still denied it was true.) Some were saying I should go to hospital immediately, others were saying it’s just a muscle spasm and it’s not that bad and no one asked my opinion.
My mom went to call our doctor whom was there and they asked me if I wanted to leave but I said no because everyone was convinced it was a muscle spasm and that it would go away. I have no idea what my mother was going through, all I remember was after a few hours of this happening, she asked me again;
‘Marilyn, it’s up to you, do you want to go?’ so I replied ‘yes’ because by then the pain was unbearable.
The drive back to the hospital was the worse trip of my life…
The dirt road leaving Ncema is in terrible condition and though my mother drove slowly it still brought a lot of pain. I had no control of my body and my head was bobbing about left and right. I was lucky to have a close friend of mine who held it straight for me. I had a pillow to support my back but I could not find comfort for one second. I kept asking every few minutes, ‘are we there yet?’. The pain was getting worse and worse, fear began to arise within me and I started to wonder if I was going to be okay. Finally after a long 40 minute drive, which felt like hours; we reached the hospital.
Now living where I was living the medical services are not too great, so the nurses were rough in handling me and it freaked out my mother. While getting x rays done, it felt like time slowed down and I was being tortured with pain while waiting for the news to see if I was going to be alright. When the nurse brought me through in my bed, I saw my family anxiously waiting for me, the pain in all their eyes was worse than the actual pain I was experiencing.
Everyone kept asking me what happened and for some reason, I kept on lying to them; telling them I fell off a boat and landed in the wrong position. Shortly after the doctor walked in with the x rays and hung them on the light box for all to see. He started to explain certain things and got us all very confused, by the time he had finished we all gazed at him wondering what was going to come out of his mouth next. So at the end we asked,
‘Is anything broken?’
… He replied, ‘yes’
We then asked, ‘does she need to have an operation’, again he replied, ‘yes’ or I lay still for over 6 months and even then it still isn’t a guarantee I will be well. My heart dropped.
They took me up to my room and gave me some morphine for the pain. I loved the feeling it gave me for I could feel it flow in my blood stream through my body and slowly the pain would drift away.That was all I was looking forward to, was to be painless and I passed out a little while later.
The next morning, I discovered I was going to fly to Johannesburg for my operation because it was not safe for me to do it here and that my medical aid was going to cover everything.
My mother organised all that she could with the little time she had and prepared everything for us to leave. I confessed the truth to her, that I jumped off the dam wall and luckily medical aid was still going to cover my hospital bills. I had my accident Saturday afternoon and they flew me out Monday morning.
I remember the sad look on my dad’s face when he watched me being tied onto a stretcher and carried out with all the nurses following. My dad couldn’t hug me goodbye as it killed him seeing me like this, it still affects him to this day…
When we got there I was taken to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa and straight into the emergency room for examination. My mother was left outside to wait for me. She had no national line, no one there for her and she had no idea where to go. When I was taken in the emergency room and saw the commotion that goes on in there, it over whelmed me and finally… I began to cry.
It started to hit me that this is serious and it will not be over ‘just like that’. I knew that when I woke up the next day, it wouldn’t be a dream nor could I pretend it wasn’t that bad because I was now in another country in an emergency room. Those who worked there were very organised and looked like they knew what they were doing. This wasn’t something I was used to considering the hospitals back home.
I was picked up and placed on an MRI machine then taken off and placed on another bed, and then suddenly people surrounded me checking various parts of my body at once. I remember getting into an argument with one of the nurses whom wanted to cut my favourite top and unfortunately I lost that fight.
Then shortly after another person held my arm above my head while two other nurses held me down and the last one saying softly, ‘you may feel a slight pinch..’.
That was no pinch to me…
A tube was pushed through my chest into my lungs to drain the fluid that was in them. It was the most painful and scary experience so far because I could not breathe for what felt like forever.
I’m not too sure what happened after that. Everything from then seems to be a fading from my memory, but I do remember hearing news that my operation was going to occur the next day. How my mother sorted herself out I am not too sure. She did have contact with a friend by then. Who was there for her and she found a place to stay. It was near the hospital and they brought her to and from the hospital when she needed. My next memory starts when I was taken out of the operating theatre; I woke up to the sound of my mom’s voice and saw her smiling face.
It still wasn’t clear to me where I was or what had happened but the first words that came out of my mouth were,
‘mom, I’m hungry….’
then she knew, I was okay.
Morphine is a dangerous drug and is well known for making people hallucinate. This is what happened to me the first night I had my operation.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night dying of thirst and crying out to the nurse for some water. Unfortunately, she couldn’t give it to me because apparently, you’re not supposed to eat or drink anything for a certain amount of hours after an operation. Again, I don’t remember much from that evening, but fighting with her was one thing I remember and looking at my imaginary watch to check the time I could have water was another thing I remember. Finally; after fighting with her nearly all through the night, I got my water.
At another time during the night, I woke up thinking the building was going to fall down on me and I kept trying to grab all my wires that were on me. I was in such a panic and tried to save myself but being freaked out at the fact that I could not even lift my head.
These poor nurses…
I was in the ICU for five days and in the ward for another five days. My family could not make it to South Africa during this time because of school so only my mother was there with me. She was keeping in contact with every person we knew, updating them on my condition.
She also loved her mini holiday she was getting away from work and housework.
The ICU was a nightmare as I got little to no rest.
I kept hearing all screams and cries of the other patients throughout the night. It was heart breaking hearing them in pain and no one can do anything about it. You’d think the morphine would help me sleep, but I still got woken up.
My mother was only allowed in once a day (I think) for about an hour. Seeing her smiley face and complaining to her quickly about my sleepless nights and the ugly food, was all I needed to keep me going.
I struggled a lot when it came to doing the simplest things. Getting up from lying down, walking and staying in a sitting position. Even lifting my head at the time was impossible. They did get me walking the day after my operation. The joy that leaped in my soul when that happened gave me hope for the future. Though I could only take a few steps before losing my breath and having to lie down again, I still had hope.
Sadly I could not do anything without assistance, I always needed someone to hold me. I think the worst part of this adventure was the pain from my lungs.
I had a long tube sticking out my side with a bottle at the end of it containing all the fluid that was being drained out. It often gave me pains in my chest and I struggled to breathe.
I could not walk for more than a few steps, even those few steps I needed assistance and sitting was the greatest challenge of all. The nurses tried every day to let me sit for a few minutes so that my lungs can get used to my body in an upright position but after a few seconds, I would lose my breathe and became very tired. Often I cried out to them to let me lay down again because I was not coping.
They would give me countless injections every day, the one I hated the most was the one on my tummy because it was the most painful and I had to have it every day to keep my blood from clotting.
X rays were taken each day to keep track on how my lungs were recovering and each day I looked forward to my morphine injection because it was the best part of my day …
Morphine is known to be addictive because it works so wonderfully. I loved morphine and wanted it more and more through the day. (I wasn’t on it for long, only a few days) It took the pain away and relaxed my body. It made me feel light headed and I could slowly feel the pain fade away as the morphine made its way through my arms, down my back and to my feet. I could feel the pain fading and my eyes would slowly close and minutes later, I would be fast asleep in peace. I remember very well the day the doctor told me I was well enough to be taken off morphine and put on a slightly lighter drug, it broke my heart. I’m not sure how long I was on morphine for but, I would often find myself manipulating the nurse to give me a little more of it. I would tell her that this other drug (probably Pethadine) wasn’t working and that it’s okay if she gave me a little bit of morphine.
Obviously I didn’t win any battle, but my craving for this horrid drug remained with me for a very long time.
After five restless days in the ICU I was finally able to get out and moved to a ward. All the injections that were everywhere were finally being taken out, I was filled with joy. The drip came off first, then another one that was behind my back that took out blood from my operation and a few that were on my tummy and other places on my body and the last one was this tube that was in my lungs. It was more painful having it taken out than put in for the skin had healed around the tube and the only way to take it out was by force.
I was told to hold my breath and keep still (not like I could move anyways, there was also a woman holding me down). Having that tube in for this long was painful for I often had cramps and felt very uncomfortable. So I was happy to have it taken out. When the nurse had pulled the chest tube out, it felt like he had taken parts of my ribs with him and tore another hole in my lung, I wanted to scream out in pain.
I then heard him say, ‘keep holding your breath, we need to stitch you up’.
I thought this would never end.
By the end of that awful experience, I looked down at my body and felt normal again for I was free of all the tubes and injections that were almost covering my whole body. Tears of joy made their way down my cheeks as I repeatedly thanked the nurse for taking my chest tube out. For now I could finally breathe properly without pain and take deep breaths without cramping up. As I was taken to the ward, I passed many other rooms to get to mine. I saw the conditions of others that were there which brought sadness as I was not the only one experiencing what I was. There were many others that were in pain and suffering.
We entered my room and I saw I had a roommate; this would be my first time sharing a room with someone. They settled me down and explained how to use the bed ( how to use the remote to move it up or down according to my comfort). They also showed me where the button was to call the nurses when I needed them. Let’s not forget the most important one, how to use the television. (This was a small one hanging from the ceiling) … (Better than nothing!) When the nurses finally left, I heard a little voice from across the room say; ‘hello’ and I looked and saw a beautiful smile on the face of my new roommate. I was so happy I had company…
I had a better glance of my roommate when everyone left and I saw she was very small and fragile. She looked so young and skinny but she had an amazing smile that lit up the room.
She introduced herself and told me her name is Gertrude. Neither of us could walk so we spoke from across the room and she asked me about my life and how I ended up where I was. After I had shared my side of the story I soon got discover hers and my heart dropped…
She is in her early thirties (I thought she was in her early teens) and has been in and out of hospitals her whole life as she has a muscle disease.
Her head is bigger than the rest of her body and she is too weak to hold it up on her own. (Her head is not abnormally big; she was just really small and weak as to her muscle disease). She cannot walk alone because her legs cannot hold her body and she couldn’t feed herself either.
I remember seeing her precious face staring at the television and switching to different channels. Her eyes would be wide awake and her mouth often left a little open looking very excited at any television show she was watching. Every day she would always make conversations with me, with the smallest things she would ask questions about them. She always had a smile on her face and was polite to all the nurses.
I often got asked what I was watching on television and she would explain what she was watching.
Each night when the lights were turned off and we were tucked in bed, she would start to talk to me and bring up any random story to start a conversation. If I had practiced walking that day she would tell me how proud she was of me and how she wished she could walk. If she had watched a movie that she didn’t understand or really enjoyed, she would share it with me or tell me her favourite parts of the movie she liked. Some nights we would chat for a long time as we both couldn’t sleep and some nights we’d fall asleep while talking and I soon fell in love with her as a person and just enjoyed having her company. She was awaiting an operation that had been delayed several times and she spoke about her fears for this operation, not wanting to go through more pain and this brought sadness to my heart. I often tried to ease her fears by telling her the operation won’t be that bad and that the pain won’t last forever and to look to the bright side of things. I even told her about the wonderful feeling morphine gives. (Not sure if that was very wise, but she giggled to that comment.) You know, its incredible how we under estimate our body and how important each part of it is. Everyday routines became a struggle for me and I started to realise how your body works and how it reacts when one part of it is hurt.
For example, getting up from lying down was impossible for me and I needed people to help me up. Standing from a sitting position took a long time, for I had to use the right muscles or my back would go into spasm. Turning on my side from lying on my back was another challenge because if I made one wrong move or tried too hard or took too long, my muscles would go into spasm. Walking was fascinating for I felt different muscles in my back move with every step I took and I was amazed at how many muscles are at work with one simple step.
I had to be careful when going to the toilet because I had to use the right leg muscles to sit down and up again, brushing my teeth was hard because of the movements you make with your arms and I also couldn’t bend over to spit in the sink. Climbing up the stairs was also another challenge that tired me out a lot. From bathing to simply sitting, to carrying things (light things), to not picking something up after dropping it because I was unable to bend over.
Everything, everything became a challenge and I had to think two or three times before doing something.
It was very frustrating !!!
One morning I woke up and looked around the room and soon discovered Gertrude was not there. I went into an immediate panic and began pressing the ‘buzzer’ over and over again to call the nurses. Thinking something bad had happened, I was relieved to discover that she had had her operation and will be back later that day… Whew!
A few days after her operation I was blessed to see her stand for the first time and it was then that I realised the seriousness of her condition. I needed one person to hold my hand to walk and I was getting better by the day and able to walk a few times on my own. But Gertrude needed both nurses to hold her and to hold her well for her entire body weight rested upon them. Even then, I saw the struggle it was for her and by her second step she was exhausted and needed to lie down. I still praised her that day, congratulating her for having the courage to walk and for being able to, even though it was just a step. (She had never tried walking before because she was always told she couldn’t).
She was such a special person to have close to me and I thought about her every day for a long time after I left the hospital.
When I first got to the ward I politely asked for as little medication as possible as I hate taking pills but I soon discovered I could not function without them. The first few nights were restless as I was very uncomfortable sleeping in the same position and it was hard changing positions all the time. So I had to pick one that I had to stick with.
The pain was unbearable and extremely uncomfortable; I often got muscle spasms that felt like they were never going to go away. I was also given sleeping tablets, otherwise I would stay awake all night.
The doctor wanted to keep me in longer I had bet that I was going to get out a few days earlier than he assumed, as long as I promised to walk three times a day and do my exercise given me by the physiotherapist. And so we did, my mother and I walked around the hospital ward everyday as often as we could. She and I had a wonderful time together during these days because she had no work nor friends with her and neither did I.
My mom and I stood out like two sore thumbs in that hospital because all we did was laugh and joke and make as much noise as we could. When it was resting time, we shared the earphones and watched a movie together. When it was lunch time, we’d share our foods. Well, actually we swapped because by then I disliked the hospital food. When we were walking, I’d often make jokes and comments that made my mother burst out laughing and I had to lean against a wall to laugh because my back would hurt. Even though all this was happening, there was such a peace in my heart during this time. I knew that I was going to be okay.
Every night before I slept I began to pray.
My daily prayer started by thanking the lord for saving me from that awful day and it then went to expressing my gratitude for this peace in my heart and assurance that I was going to be well again. Unfortunately, I could not pray any further than that. Even though I was open to hearing about Jesus and allowed people to pray for me, something deep inside me told me that this won’t last.
I wish I could express these moments in more detail but it’s pretty simple; I didn’t want to serve Jesus even though He saved me. I still wanted more of my life, more of discovering myself and being with my boyfriend. I had no time for Jesus because I wasn’t ready to give anything up for Him. Harsh no? But it was true.
I saw how many things were restored during this time, my mother and I became closer and I appreciated her more than before and developed a respect for her, which should have been there from the very beginning. Four days had passed and I saw the doctor doing his daily checkups, I prepared a big smile for him when he walked in and tried a bit of puppy dog eyes hoping to be let out. My smile turned to squeals of joy when I heard I was able to go home the next day. I nodded my head to everything the doctor had said and promised to do everything he was telling me to do (not that I was really listening anyways). I was still getting my daily stomach injections to prevent my blood from clotting and I heard him tell a nurse to prepare some for me to take home and continue them there! I immediately refused and promised to walk a hundred times a day if I had to just so that I could stop taking those injections because they were painful. After much convincing, we didn’t have to take any injections home. ( Yippee) Saying my goodbyes to Gertrude was hard, for I could not bend over to hug her nor could she stand to hug me, so holding her hand wishing her well was all that I could do. Unfortunately, home was not back in Bulawayo but I had to remain in South Africa for another three weeks as we wait for my lung to heal completely, then it would be safe for me to fly home. Not that I had a problem with that, as long as I got home cooked meals and bathed in private, I was happy.
Finally my father and sisters arrived soon after I was out the hospital, I was so happy to see them.
The shock that hit their face when they saw me was priceless. Now, due to my operation I had lost more than ten kilograms. For my mother, she didn’t notice it because she saw me every day. For me, I got a bit of a fright when I first looked in the mirror when I was in hospital because I had seen the difference in my face but I wasn’t aware of how much I had lost. But for my dad and sisters they have see me less than two weeks later and see a ten kilogram difference and it took them forever to get used to. I also still hadn’t gone to the toilet properly, so my stomach was bloated and I often teased my dad about it, comparing my tummy to his.
His only words for the next few days were, ‘is it normal that she’s this thin?’, ‘she’s too skinny’ and it went on. I saw the concerned look on his face and kept reminding him that this is just my body’s way of reacting to the operation. It’s not like I wasn’t eating, I was but I had just been through a painful operation and thus was the result of it. There was nothing I could do about it. My whole teenage life, all I wanted was to be independent and tried to do so from a young age. I wanted to do everything myself and never wanted help from anyone.
But now, I was much smaller, very weak and practically unable to do anything without assistance and that’s when my family got their opportunity to express the full extent of their love for me. My father came walking with me every morning and would offer me food all the time. He helped me sit from lying down and would always get nervous in doing so. My sisters helped me change countless times, they too helped me sit from lying down and carried, picked up and took anything I was unable to. My mom helped with changing me, shaving my legs, serving my food, helping me up from lying down and nagging me every few minutes to my exercise. I only ever enjoyed doing them when my whole family joined in.
This was a tough challenge for me. It was not easy to watch my parents go through this situation; it was not easy being the eldest of my two sisters but needing them to change me and do as much as they did for me. But in this all, I developed a closer and deeper relationship with each member of my family that I hadn’t had before . Even writing about it is hard; it brings back so many memories…
The doctor had told us that I needed to be massaged twice a day to prevent my muscles from becoming too stiff otherwise they would go into spasm. Again, a tough challenge because after all that my mother would do for me throughout the day, having her massage my back killed me inside. I knew it was nothing for her and that it was a joy to help me the way she was, but it still hurt. A lot.
When we left the hospital I wanted to stop the pain killers and the sleeping tablets but, with the pain I was experiencing convinced me to carry them on. I had to take about two pain killers three times a day and a sleeping tablet every night. When I didn’t take a sleeping tablet, I wouldn’t sleep from discomfort and pain and my nights then felt endless and frustrating. So I learnt my lesson.
Staying in South Africa that whole month was tough because when my family left, there was nothing for me to do. It was just me and my mother and I soon got very bored and demotivated to do any exercise. We were staying with a relative there whom took wonderful care of my family and I and she too often nagged me to do my exercise and shouted at me every time she saw me lying down.
The day has arrived, we were going to see the doctor and find out how I was doing and get as much information from him as possible concerning what I can and cannot do. I remember being so nervous on our way there, not knowing what to expect… The beginning of the meeting with the doctor was the usual, explaining my operation and what he did etc, then we asked him about my loss of weight and if it was normal and why. His reply brought peace because he told us it was normal as it was a painful operation and the body reacts in this way. We then asked him about what I was able to do and if I was able to live a normal life. He made it clear that I would not be the same as before and that from now onwards I am to live in caution, which was sad to hear because I wanted to try many extreme sports later in the years. Now, all I was allowed to do is, walk, swim, light exercise like Pilates or yoga, so I looked at him and thought, ‘great I’m going to be like an old lady!’ (No offense to anyone who considers themselves old :p ) We then went onto the things I am not allowed to do and they are; running, gym (weights etc), do extreme sports (tubing, sky diving, bungee jumping, skiing, diving or surfing and basically anything and everything that I consider ‘fun’ in my book). I was not to lift anything heavier than ten kg’s and I had to be careful not to make the wrong movements when I do pick something up and not to be foolish with friends, to run and jump to hug them and I had to be careful in general so that I do not fall or become clumsy with my footing, for all these could cause more damage.
I was quite sad after this meeting…
The time had come for me to go back home. I was so excited and nervous at the same time, I was not sure how people were going to react to me after everything that happened. I remember being very happy when I got to see my friends and boyfriend. I was able to visit my boss that I worked for before my accident and informed her that I was well.
My dear friends were also glad to see me and see that I was recovering, some came to visit often and walked with me and helped me when I needed, while others I didn’t see them much because I hardly left the house. My boyfriend at the time took good care of me and helped a lot with the things I was unable to do.
When I was a little bit better, well enough to start leaving the house, I was getting comments from everyone I saw about my weight and I soon realised that they all thought I was anorectic and not eating, this broke my heart.
Now, I know I can’t blame them, it is a big difference from the last time they had seen me. Some times the ways I was approached hurt my feelings because before I even got greeted I would get attacked about my weight.
People would stare at me and ask me, ‘why are you so skinny? Don’t you eat anymore?’.It was painful having to explain to them that it was because of my operation that I had lost this much weight and that my body needs time to recover but, I knew they were not listening.
This carried on for a very long time and it didn’t stop, it broke me inside.
I didn’t know what to do…
My first week coming home I went to church on Sunday with my mom and sisters, I couldn’t sit for very long so my mother was already prepared and lay pillows along the chairs for me to lie down on.
I wasn’t paying much attention to what was being said but I looked up to see the smiling face of my pastor, holding his microphone and asking if he could pray for me.
I remember when I came here, I didn’t feel judged… I came to church a few times after that but it wasn’t long before I preferred sitting at home, because my back was not coping with the outing but also because I didn’t really want to. I spent more time with my friends whom I partied with than the people of God. As my recovery came about and I became stronger, it wasn’t long before I was out and about partying.
When I had started drinking again, I remembered the warning I got from the doctor to be careful of alcohol because I would get drunk very quickly. I had to be careful of getting drunk because my body will be weak and I might make wrong movements and injure myself. It still didn’t stop me…
The first few months of me coming home I spent most of it with my boyfriend at the time and he continued to take care of me. He always made sure I was okay and helped me with a lot of the things I was unable to do. When he left two months later I was devastated to end our year long relationship, for at the time, he was my everything and my happiness depended only on him.
When he left my happiness left with him, so I had to find something else to make me happy. I went back to drinking and partying, a little bit more than before. Only this time… I wasn’t in battle with my family anymore because of the relationship I developed with them. This time, I told them where I was going and often partied at my father’s pub and spent time with him there; I drank a lot more so that my body can go back to getting used to alcohol because I was tired of getting tipsy after one drink (everyone found that fairly amusing).
Every day I was in pain and it never went away, when I was partying I would leave for an hour with a friend and lay down in the car to rest my back and once I felt less pain, I would go out again.
My friends were very over protective over me, making sure no one pushed me or bumped into me. When the pubs got too crowded they would kindly escort me outside and we’d party in our own little corner.
I wasn’t allowed to work until my next visit to the doctor so I had plenty of free time to rest during the day, though I got bored, I had my close friends to entertain me.
It wasn’t long before another man made his way into my life…
It wasn’t long after my break up with my last boyfriend that I found myself in another relationship (story of my life). This one was a very interesting relationship, we were two very stubborn people with strong characters that often clashed. I loved him very much but we were too similar in character and we would often fight over the smallest of things (I laugh now that I think about it).
He was one of those naughty boys that were always out and about, he was like ‘THE social butterfly’. He was always up to mischief and always had a mission to accomplish. Soon after we started dating, all these traits rubbed off on me and I think it freaked him out a little 🙂
With this relationship I was introduced to what I’ve heard, ‘an emotional relationship’ and… It drained me out, a lot! When he was in a bad mood, he would put me in a bad mood and I started doing the same to him, whereas normally I would ignore someone in a bad mood… or tease them (which I would do to the poor guy all the time). So I would be having a good day or he would be having a good day but because the other was not happy we would throw the mood out on one another and it would ruin our day.
Things became stressful.
He was the jealous type and I was probably the worst person he could have been with as I love to socialise with everyone (when I’m in a party mood, normally I’m a shy person) .
I had more guy than girl friends and yes, this freaked him out some more, but because I was not willing to give up talking to my guy friends and doing what I wanted, it was one more topic added to the things we’d fight about. Eventually, we found ourselves fighting almost every night we were out.
Now, please don’t think that my life with this boy was a complete misery, when we were not fighting we got along very well. He always knew how to make me laugh and we would always play around and act like a bunch of kids, which used to drive my poor mother insane. He was often at my house and practically lived there during the day; he made himself very much at home. Although our characters clashed and sometimes brought out the worst in one another, our personalities would bring out the best in one another.
Every relationship has its ups and down; unfortunately this one had more downs than ups…
He wouldn’t trust anyone I spoke to. He was always stressed out, about everything, which in turn stressed me out. This carried on for four months and my family and friends had seen a big difference in me during that time because I was no longer the same person.
Normally I’m calm with most things, but now I was tense with all things, normally I would be a social bee when I was out but now I would be by my boyfriend’s side all night. Before I spent a lot of time with my friends, now I was lucky to get alone time with them.
And they started to get worried…
…but no matter how hard things got, I couldn’t bring myself to break up with him. This had carried on for roughly four months, (we had known each other for a long time before this) and the time had come for my family and I to go on our annual holiday to Cyprus to visit all our Cypriot relatives. For some reason my boyfriend felt extremely uncomfortable at this thought and continually asked me, ‘you’re coming back right?’ and of course my answer would be ‘yes’ but there was still something bothering him.
We had a lovely holiday there and I enjoyed every minute of it. Summer was coming soon and we were lucky to walk near the beach and feel the sun touch our faces.
I slowly found myself coming back to the person I used to be, we all had missed her.
Before the end of our Cyprus holiday (3 days before), my mother approached me and asked if I would like to stay and work here until August when they return. At first I said no because I knew this would freak my boyfriend out but then I thought again and wondered what life here would be like. So I told her I would only stay if they can find me a job before the holiday is over.
And so the search was on…
Strangely enough, the next day I had a job and was starting a few days later.
Weather this was planned by my family or not, I had to stay.
I was so excited and nervous at the same time, not knowing what to expect from living in this Greek island.
The time came where I had to call my boyfriend and share the news, you can imagine he was not happy and even planned to come here but somehow we managed to convince him not to come and we’ll see how things go.
It was tough the first few days as I knew no one and I was not fluent in the language which was a problem at work in the beginning. But it wasn’t before long that I got used to the island lifestyle and began to fit in quite well.
I began teaching swimming in an indoor pool (which is what I always wanted to do, for your work is not affected by bad weather). I also managed to take most of my lessons in Greek (even though the other teachers laughed at my Greek, as long as the kids were doing what I thought I was saying, I didn’t care!)
I knew two girls that lived in another town, not far from mine, they were not strangers to me but we weren’t friends either and they called me up to hang out so that I can have some company and experience the island a bit.
Turns out, we had more in common than we thought…
The more we hung out, the more we got a long and in a few months I found myself travelling to them every weekend to party and I went wild. This time, I had no parents to ask if I could go here or there nor to discuss a curfew time, nor to message where I am and who I’m with, I had freedom in every area.
I was living with my grandparents at the time and the only information I was giving them was, ‘I’m going to my friends for the weekend, see you Sunday or Monday’. My aunt was also taking care of me but she wasn’t over protective and didn’t mind me going here and there. I was loving life.
Work was going well, my social life was going well, I was at the beach everyday and partied all night, I was having a blast with life and didn’t want to go back home in Zimbabwe.
After four months, my family was coming back to Cyprus for their summer holiday and I remember dreading their arrival, freaking out that they will start telling me what to do and where to go and ask me a bunch of questions that I felt they didn’t need to know the answer to. But I was preparing myself not to give in, this is my life now and I was not going to let them stop me living it.
When they arrived I hardly spent any time with them and carried on my daily routines as if they were not there.
I came and left when I pleased, went out and about as usual and went to visit my friends as normal.
I wouldn’t spend time with them nor give them polite answers when they asked me where I was going. I started smoking in front of them and expected them to accept it. I told them if I was drunk the night before and didn’t mind drinking in front of them. I simply made it clear that ‘it’s my life now’ and they cannot stop it. (I know, I know I also think I was a spoilt cow).
But after a while my family couldn’t take it anymore, my mom sat me down and shared with me that they are not here to stop me from living my life but to simply live it with me and to enjoy me. They were all happy for me, that I had settled down so well and that I made friends, they just wanted to be a part of it. I suddenly realised they were not the bad guys after all…It was me.
That day I got my act together. For the rest of the holiday, things changed and I became more open and free with them. I was honest and showed some respect, I opened my life to them and let them be a part of it.
I enjoyed every moment I had with my family and loved that they were here with me, I took my sisters out with me a few times and even partied with my mom once or twice.
I loved the time I had with my dad and we’d often trade ideas about new pub designs or promotions (he owned two pubs at the time) and I finally started to act like a daughter, even asking them if I could go away for the weekend or telling them where I was going out and who with. Sadly time flies when you’re having fun and their time with me was coming to an end. Towards the end of their holiday I was asked if I would like to come back with them…
We were not sure if it was best for me to stay or go back home because winter was coming up and I would have no work but because I loved the life style here and the friends I made, I didn’t want to go back home.
We spoke about it with my family for days and days, trying to think of what I can do while I’m here and where to look for a job and the list went on.
Although we found no good solution for me to stay, I stayed anyways.
Bad decision! The rest of my time in Cyprus I could not find a job and partied more than ever before because there was nothing else to do. I was not in a good place because I would wake up to no plan for the day and lay restless in bed all night, trying to think of what I was going to do the next day. I went back to getting drunk often and being foolish, hanging out with the wrong crowd and just plain getting worse.
I was not happy anymore.
The end of the year finally arrived and my dad was grateful that I was not in Bulawayo in December because it’s the party month of the year where everyone goes off the rails and he felt safe that I was away from all that. Little did he know that a surprise was coming his way, of course I was not going to miss this time of year and by then it was the middle of winter in Cyprus and I wanted some summer fun again.
Coincidentally, it was my ex boyfriends birthday they day I arrived and to make things more juicy, he was having a birthday lunch with my family and I knew nothing about that.
So when I surprised my father at this lunch, I was surprised to see my ex sitting there with my family and you’d bet, he was surprised to see me. My father was also surprised to see me and had to look twice to recognise me.
So even though there were so many surprises that day, it was an awkward lunch.
I had made a deal with my family and friends that I was not going to go out with my ex boyfriend again because of the bad results of our dating the last time. So where ever he was when we were out, I would try my best to avoid him and it drove him insane because he knew no one wanted us together again.
He would act silly around me when he was drunk and ignore me when he was sober.
One sunny day I agreed to visit him and clear up any issues we had, he promised it was just going to be a chat about what happened in the past and an update on how we are now.
So I went and we managed to sort out the problems we had with one another and it turned out to be a good day.
I told him that we were not right for each other and that my family didn’t want us together so it’s best to remain friends and he agreed.
I can give him credit, he is a charmer, a very good one. Somehow in all this ‘friendshipness’ we agreed on it turned into a ‘secret dating’ that no one knew about, not my family nor my friends. In a way I loved it because when we were out I was free to do as I pleased and I could shout at him when he tried to intervene because we were apparently not dating. It wasn’t long before the secret got out and before I got a mouth full from my family and friends about our relationship and things fell right back to where they were.
We loved each other very much but we fed off each other’s energy and fought over almost everything, nothing ever seemed to go right. Either he would get sensitive about something small, or I would.
Every night out, we’d fight either from one of us drinking too much, or if I was talking to too many boys or if I was ignoring him too much or if it was something I said or something he did, it was never ending.
My friends and family were furious at what was happening, not that I blame them, I know they only wanted to protect me but for some reason, I could not get out of this relationship. We went through a stage of breaking up every weekend and each weekend our fights got more and more violent, I didn’t know what to do anymore.
By this time in my life, nothing made me happy.
Drinking became a habit to take up time. I no longer enjoyed my own company because I was too unsettled within me. Partying was a common as waking up to me, it wasn’t fun. Spending time with my family was enjoyable but there was still unhappiness in my life and I didn’t know how to get rid of it. I tried spending time at home watching movies and having my boyfriend spend time with my family and I, but I still felt the same.
Planning an evening with the girls, getting dressed up and going to different places to party, hanging out with a new crowd, spending an evening out with my boyfriend, trying an evening out without drinking or getting smashed during the day, nothing, nothing worked for me anymore.
It was like an endless misery made its way into my life and I could not get rid of it.
I tried everything and nothing worked.
This carried on for a while and those close to me could see I was not happy.
They could see a sadness in me and they could also see how they couldn’t take it away either.
None of us knew what to do.
I remember one day I was extremely bored and the most interesting thing to do is search my bedroom because in it are so many hidden treasures that I always find. This particular day, I found my bible covered in dust under my desk, on the floor hiding in the corner and I giggled while taking it out. I picked it up and wiped the dust off the pink cover and opened it, as I was about to read my friend walked in telling me I was late for our outing, so I left my bible on the table and left.
Another day came where I found myself with nothing to do and my bible caught my eye again, I picked it up and wondered if I should open it. I was just going to read it quickly and then I can carry on with my day, so I left it on my bed and went to shower first. When I finished I walked into my room and shut the door as I was approaching my bed my boyfriend surprised me and we ended up going on a romantic walk together, when I came home that night, I was so tired that I put my bible back on the table and went to sleep.
This happened several times…
One day my mother and I were having a smoke together outside the house, we started chatting about what I was going to do this year.
She asked me if I wanted to go back to Cyprus, but that thought didn’t excite me anymore, I wanted to try something different. I told her about a thought that popped into my head recently, about visiting my aunt whom lived on an island nearby and my mom stared at me wondering if I was serious or not.
It was just a thought that never left me and I really wanted to go, just to get away from this town and stay away from Cyprus at the moment, I wanted to go for three months and then possibly go back to Cyprus afterwards.
My mom told me it was up to me where I wanted to go and to really think about it so that I do not make the wrong decision and end up even more miserable or rebellious.
After a few days of thinking about this, the idea of visiting this island started to make its way in my thoughts more and more, I became curious to find out what it would be like going back…
Life carried on as usual, the same routines continued and I still searched for some form of happiness to fill my life. I visited a few people from the church with my mom to talk about where I wanted to go and after a while, my decision was final. I was to go be with my aunt for three months and then go to Cyprus afterwards.
One night I had come home the next day from partying and my mother had just woken up, she and I sat down outside together having our morning smoke and she simply shared her fears with my relationship with this boy. She spoke with such gentleness and kindness that it brought relief to my soul and I felt like someone was on my side for once. There was no more fighting with my mom about him, no more arguments or any tension from her just plain love and concern for her daughter.
This touched my heart and helped me keep my mind focused on breaking up with him and so I did.
He obviously didn’t take it well.
Not that I blame him because over the last few days we hadn’t fought much. So this break up was coming out of nowhere for him. I had to stick to my decision. He came to the house a few hours later but we refused to let him in, my sister (the middle one) went outside and tried to address him kindly to give me time.
My friends took me out the house for the day to get my mind off things and I tried not to answer his phone calls or messages because I wanted this to be final.
That night I went out with an acquaintance to my father’s pub and as she and I were talking I felt someone behind me, when I turned around I saw my ex standing there. My heart dropped when I saw the state of him, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to look or talk to him from fear of giving in and going right back to the beginning again.
We got into a big fight that night, worse than any other fight we’ve had, it went up to the point of my father getting involved and having to chase him out. It was one of the hardest situations I had to face, but I knew it was for the best for the both of us.
Before my ex left to South Africa we met up once more to set things right and we wished each other well as we go our separate ways. Since then, we have not argued, we no longer have tension and no drama has developed now that we are not together. He has created a life for himself where he is and has achieved so much so far, which I know he wouldn’t have done this well if we were still together because we always held each other back.
As for me, I started my journey by going to this little island, I was so nervous about staying there. I often reminded myself that if I don’t find what I’m looking for (whatever it was), I was going to go back to Cyprus.
So as long as I had my back up plan I was satisfied, even though, deep down inside I knew something different was in store for me.
Arriving in this little island was the start of something new. I had drama at the airport, and the person that was meant to fetch me didn’t find me till hours later, leaving me sitting around wondering what to do.
Driving me to my aunt’s friend’s house was another mission as we got lost and drove for hours on end. The last nightmare was, arriving at this house.
Turns out my aunt thought it was nice to put me in a house of six dogs. I wasn’t sure if she knew my fear for dogs or because everyone on this island loves dogs so much that it didn’t cross her mind but, I got a fright when I saw these big dogs run at me.
And so, my adventure begins, this is my story…
Living in Zimbabwe, we were privileged to have maid and a mother whom cooked, cleaned and did the washing for us. My only responsibility was, putting my plate in the sink (which I rarely did). So when I came here, I was hit by a wave of reality.
It was a pretty strong wave!
Now it all began with one situation, dishes.
Dishes and I hated each other back in the day; every time we met there was always war.
I found myself doing the dishes every day since I discovered my hatred for them.
I never understood how the kitchen always makes itself so dirty.
You can clean it spotless but the second you leave and return, there is something else to be done (I still don’t understand this!) and this freaked me out. My second adventure was sharing a room, bad enough I was not used to sharing a room, turns out; I had to share my bed with someone I hardly knew. This was a nightmare!
For some reason this didn’t bother my roommate at all.
Nothing seemed to bother her, not the dishes, or dogs, or the fact that she too was sharing a bed with a stranger. It annoyed me how she was always happy, I didn’t know what to do with her.
The third adventure was the washing.
I was foolish enough to think that it was going to be done for me. I would watch everyone’s washing being done and wonder why mine were still in a heap, on the floor in the corner of my room. They sat there for a long time before I got the courage to ask if they can be washed. I was then pointed in the direction of the washing machine and later asked if they can fit their clothes in too.
When the washing was done, I heard my name being called reminding me to hang the clothes outside.
It took me time to register that I was going to do this all alone. I would then find myself, boiling in the sunshine, hanging up my clothes first in the sun and putting everyone else’s in the shade.
My fourth adventure was cleaning the house and due to the countless dogs we had living with us, cleaning was done often. I wasn’t aware of the effort and time it takes to take care of a house, so being exposed to all this in a short week was over whelming.
When I was younger I got attacked by a dog and still have the scars of his bite marks. I was taken to hospital after the attack and had a nurse come visit my home every day for three weeks to clean my wound. Ever since that day, I have had a fear of dogs that I cannot seem to overcome. Not many people take it seriously and they think I am playing around when I react when a dog is near me.
So living in this house was tough as there were six dogs running around all day. Not that any of them were violent to me but I was just fearful of them at the beginning because they often played roughly with one another.
It was also then that I became a germ freak as they would lick my hand while I was walking to the kitchen to eat and I would find myself returning several times to the bathroom to wash my hands before having my meal.
I then discovered it was best to walk around with my hands above my head if I was to stop washing them every few seconds. In a way, it was good that I was there for after staying there a short while; I was able to actually sit and play with these dogs.
(Unfortunately, the fear still remains to this day...)
I had been on this island for well over a month and in that month, I had spend two weeks of it with one of my aunts friend and then moved to another close friend of hers. Thankfully they only had one dog but, they had six people staying with them and my adventures started all over again. (in case you’re wondering, my aunt was too busy to have me with her at her house and thought it was best I live in the company of her crazy friends.)
My new home was a different kind of adventure and it was tough in the beginning but it turned out to be the best place for me to stay. I would watch the way everyone lived, I watched how they lived with one another and it started a work in my heart. I looked at all these people individually and noticed that they are so different from one another yet, they got a long so well. There was a unity among them that I hadn’t seen before. Other than their different personalities, nationalities, routines, they were all somehow a team and a great one of that. I loved watching them live; it was something about this family that touched my heart.
Joy was constantly poured out of all of them, if one was stressed, the others supported, if one was joyful, they all rejoiced along with him/her. Although it was overwhelming living with so many people around me, something told me this was going to be a very special stay. I had been living there well over a month now and started to wonder why nothing’s changed about me. My life had changed, for I was no longer drinking or smoking, I had no boyfriend and I was not glued to the television like before. But inside, I still hadn’t changed and I didn’t know how to do that.
Everyone around me was different to me; there was something about them that I wanted. They had something that I didn’t have and I wasn’t sure how to get it. I may have had a few things in common with some people, but there was still something different. I wanted to change and I thought that coming here would do that, but in fact all it did was, change my life. I was still the same. I lived a good life though, I volunteered at the church during the day, went to home meetings during the week, and went to church on Sundays. I washed dishes occasionally, made my bed every day and read my bible from time to time but I was still the same.
I started to wonder what Jesus does to change you, ‘how is it that he changed all these people around me, but I’m still the same. I mean I’m living a completely different life now, why do I still feel something needs to change’.
I remember one day, I was trying to read my bible but I had always struggled because I hadn’t had a clue what to read nor did anything happen after I read it.
(I had heard people tell me how reading the word of God changes lives) then soon after reading, a feeling came to me that something very special was going to happen soon. I had no idea what it could be nor did I know when it would happen but all I remember is being very excited for no reason.
I was full of anxiety and excitement; I was nervous yet, sort of happy. I never expressed my feelings or told anyone about it but something very real was happening inside of me and I just wanted this week to end.
Sunday finally came and it was a gathering of all the churches; every month all the churches would meet in one big building and have a wonderful time with the lord.
For the first time, I was happy to go.
When we arrived I hadn’t seen so many people in one room before and I became very overwhelmed, sitting quietly in my chair hoping no one notices me. As the meeting started the expectancy in my heart grew and I was eager to hear and see everything that was about to happen.
Praise and worship began and I stood watching the lyrics on the big screen, trying to sing the song without mixing up the words. My stomach had butterflies and my eyes were wide with curiosity. I clapped my hands and watched everyone else around me, waiting for something to happen. After a while, I saw nothing happened in me and a huge weight of sadness came over me. I sat down like a little girl who has just been let down by her parent and shrugged my shoulders thinking, ‘what was I so excited about?’ And then I saw an old chubby man walk on the stage.
Someone had given him a microphone and he began to speak with a strange deep voice.
I stood up to get a closer look at him and saw the translator standing next to him preparing to repeat his every word. As he spoke and she translated, my heart began to race and I listened very carefully to what was said.
My heart began to race even more and I held my hand over my heart feeling it beat twice the normal rate. I then closed my eyes and started to pray in a panic asking God not to let me have a heart attack and that I was too young to have one, I didn’t know what was happening to me.
Something came over me and I felt an adrenaline rush through my body with the rate my heart was beating. I carried on praying, thinking and feeling like I was about to have a heart attack.
My eyes remained shut and as I prayed, I started to walk down the aisle to the front of the church for prayer. This was the first time I’ve ever been up for prayer on my own without anyone asking me to go…
Tears made their way down my cheeks and for the first time I didn’t try hold them back. My heart was still racing and the adrenaline felt like it leaped to my soul lifting it high. I soon felt someone touch me and begin to pray, I then heard someone else close to me speak, translating what was being prayed.
To this day I cannot remember a word that was said, I do not know who translated for me but I do remember what happened. Finally… I felt something change and that was me!
When they finished praying the tears never stopped, it felt like each tear that went down my cheek was a burden that was being taken away. Each tear that dropped down the floor were bad memories of the past that were being taken away. A weight, a huge weight that was sitting on my heart for many, many years, I felt it lift off of me and I was finally free. Something happened in me and it set me free.
Something happened that day that took away all the bad, all the hurt, all the pain, all worries, my burdens and all that was left was joy!
Jesus touched my heart. Since that faithful day, I have never been the same. Never! Every day I found myself glued to the bible, reading every single word and reading all the time (and I’m the kind of person who hates reading!).
When I came home from volunteering at the church, I would read till dinner time, at dinner, I would ask questions and after dinner, I would carry on reading until my eyes forced themselves to close. I just wanted to learn so much about Jesus because of this joy he had put in my heart, because of the burdens he had lifted off my shoulders and because of the love he has filled me with.
I was not the same person anymore.
Suddenly, I was always smiling, I was gentle, I stopped swearing, I stopped complaining (well…not completely 😉 ), I started to love those around me more and appreciate them for the role they played in this house. I learned from them and the way they lived. I asked them what they knew about the bible, I asked questions, countless questions about the life of Christ, what he did, where he went, details about certain situations in Jesus’ life. It was endless.
There were times where I would feel tears fill my eyes in hearing what I heard about certain parts of the life of Christ. There were times where I would not go to the prayer meeting to finish reading a chapter I was on and would find tears of joy while reading this chapter. I prayed to the lord, not knowing what to say but mostly thanking him again and again for bringing me back home.
Joy, joy was what was flowing in me because I knew; I was back where I belonged. I knew I was in the right place and I knew this is what my searching heart had longed for.
I was now complete.
Now, my routine didn’t change, but I had changed; therefore my life completely changed. From hating dishes, I loved them now, I had no problem if there were two dishes to wash to twenty dishes to wash (there was more of a chance of twenty dishes than two!) but the joy in my heart, never left me.
Although I struggle with concentration, I loved going to church because I was learning so much. Normally, I hate learning, I cannot sit still long enough to absorb anything but this time, I was so curious that I took everything in when reading the bible, or listening to the pastors.
Now the time had come for my holiday here to end and I was sad to go, I was also excited to see my family though and it wasn’t too long to the time I would. We had put a lot of thought into me coming back for there was nothing for me where I was going and I had loved my time here so much that I wanted to come back.
I remember being nervous of going home again because in the past, when I had been touched by the lord, I would always rebel again after being home a few weeks. There was still a fear that would happen.
But I was given an assurance that the lord will be with me where ever I go and not to fear for He will always take care of me.
When I went home my family saw the joy of the Lord in me and they rejoiced with me. My sisters felt the love of the lord at work in my life because for the first time I had humbly apologised for all the rubbish and struggle I put them through in the past. It was incredible how the lord had restored our relationship and gave me grace to repent to my loved ones that I hurt. I know for a fact that this would never have happened if it weren’t for the help of the lord because I was not the kind of person to apologise for anything!
Obviously when I went home things were a challenge for me, my old habits of lying by the television all day were waiting for me, my friends and our naughty ways were waiting for me. My time at my father’s pub were waiting for me and I wanted to stay away from all those things that might draw me away from what the lord has done in my heart because I didn’t want to go back to the old me.
Although some of these things were still tempting, the only reason I didn’t return to them was because what I had found, was far more precious to me than my old life.
I was constantly put to the test by friends and family around me my entire visit home (not that they were doing it on purpose, it’s just that the lord put it in my heart to be a different person towards my friends and family and to not drift back to my old ways of reacting or acting) and I started to see the difficulties of being a born again Christian.
I went to the Zimbabwe Youth camp with a friend and my youngest sister. This was my second youth camp I had ever been to in my life (the first one was when I decided to leave the church) and I was both excited and nervous for it.
It was a bit of a challenge for me being there as I do not do well with crowds and I’m not really a ‘game’ playing person. My sister and friend were put out of their comfort zone too and although we had our differences, the lord restored us by the end of it all.
Due to my back condition I was physically unable to play most of the games and felt like a ‘party pooper’, the energy I once had was no more and the fun I used to have with my close friend while playing these games couldn’t happen anymore either. It was tough, watching others run around and enjoy themselves, while I sat and waited for them to finish. It felt like I was not really a part of the team as I did nothing to be a good team member and I really started to seek the lord for help. By the end of the camp, many things had taken place and we all truly enjoyed ourselves. It was nice to do something different and be out of your comfort zone every now and again. I learnt so much by the end of this camp and regretted nothing of it.
When I came back to this precious island, I began working part time and going to school here. I loved my job and school was always an adventure.
I worked as a swimming teacher and had many funny experiences trying to explain to the kids in English what they must do when they only understand French! Even with the language barrier I developed a wonderful relationship with these kids and loved them to bits. Their parents were lovely people and they loved the way I worked with their children. Some days I would travel to another town, just forty five minutes away (by car) and teach swimming there for a few hours. The life style in this town was completely different to the town I was living in and it was extremely hot too. I managed to catch a nice tan and enjoy the beautiful scenery each time I was there.
Although things were well with work, settling down to living here was tough because things are completely different to the way they are at home. I now had no car and had to accept taking the bus everywhere. I had to learn to budget my money and spend it wisely. I had to become a member of the house I was staying at, instead of just a visitor, by being involved in the activities that took place in the home and start building relationships with the people I lived with.
Since then, many trials and tests have come my way.
Some I have conquered and some I have failed. Some I have learnt and many I keep on learning.
I have had good days and bad days, days where I’m full of happiness and days where I count the seconds to when it ends. There are some areas where I have changed enormously and many areas that still need change.
Am I perfect?
Do I make mistakes?
All the time!
I have learnt so much when I started to live for Christ. Not live as in do the right thing but to live my life with Him in my heart directing my steps. Living this life doesn’t make me a better person; it gives me a better reason to being a better person. Living this life doesn’t mean I’m going to be perfect, but I’m aiming that way because the one who lives in me is perfect.
Living this life doesn’t make be higher than anyone else, it makes me realise my faults and where I need to change. Living this new life has its ups and downs but what makes it worth it is, who I’m doing it for and the victory I get in my heart at the end of the day.
It’s been a crazy adventure living in this little island; I loved every minute I’ve been here because of the change I have seen in myself.
I have watched myself adapt to a new life style and learn to make it my home.
Every day I learn something new and every day the Lord speaks to my heart.
The lord shows me many things, the things I’m doing wrong and the things He wants me to do. He shows me my attitude in some situations and how my attitude should be in many situations.
The lord shows me His heart for me and also shows me the same heart he has for others.
The lord has expressed his love and grace for me and also asks that I have that same love and grace for His people. The lord shows me the way and guides my footsteps. Sometimes I find my own way and tell my feet to turn the other direction, when I reach a dead end, I look up and see the hand of the lord waiting to lead me to where I should be.
I’ve learnt that being a Christian isn’t about doing good things. Doing good things doesn’t make you a good person but the key is Christ himself. If we throw all cards on the table and look at our lives and thoughts, I can see a good change that I can do in my life but I cannot see me changing my heart.
I tried forgiving in my own strength and tried loving in my own strength and found myself drained out with grudges in my heart but when I let Christ help me forgive and teach me to love, I see myself in a place where I never thought I would be.