March 2004 – Sept 2004
I arrived in London late one night at the end of March 2004. It was a flurry of chaos and danger; the bus I was meant to take to Surrey was not running that night. I finally got into a dodgy looking taxi with a Pakistani driver who took the last 100 GBP I had to my name. He didn’t seem to have a clue how to get to Surrey and then promptly got us lost in the dark lonesome streets until his petrol almost ran out. I prayed furiously that I wouldn’t end up dead or raped, and when we finally found my aunt and uncle’s place, I felt like I’d arrived in heaven.
I spent a very sad surreal week with my wonderful family, waiting for Desmond’s arrival. My heart was heavy with sadness and anticipation. My longing for Richard was stifling and the realization each day that I was not on a holiday was unbearable. My aunt Philippa graciously tried to ease the hurt by filling my time. She took me with her to my 6-year-old twin-cousins’ after school events and made me help around the house as much as possible.
Desmond finally came a week later and we both travelled by train back up into a cold, grey London. At first we bunked in the house-share of one of Desmond’s friends. We travelled around the house, couching in the lounge, bunking on the floor of every room and even slept in a tiny geyser room for a few days. We both found jobs within a week or two and finally moved into our own room in a house, which we shared with three others.
One day, during my search on the internet for a job, I came across a website called “thegumtree”. It was very popular in London because in those days it was a classifieds site specifically designed for Aussies, Kiwi’s and Saffa’s (the London term for South Africans) to find work and accommodation. My eye fell on a link which said “missed connections” and I started scanning through the posts. It was a place where people could try and reconnect with missing friends or acquaintances. Never having forgotten about Gene, I decided to post an ad, asking if anyone knew or had seen Gene. I put my email address on it and soon afterwards, forgot about my ad.
I found a job as an assistant nursery school teacher again, but by the summer the school had to close and I was left without a job. The entire summer while Desmond pursued his sailing career, teaching theory classes in London and practical courses at the coast, I looked for another job. As our lives started to settle, our relationship started to become ugly, because all our old issues reappeared.
Within six months of being together again we had managed to reduce one another back to the fighting, nasty couple we had once been. I became more lonely and depressed than I’d ever felt in my whole life. Being alone in a foreign country, trying to please and be with someone who brought out the worst in me was absolutely soul destroying. The fact that I didn’t even have a job to support myself made me feel even more trapped and miserable.
I missed Frankfurt and Richard with all my heart. Because I never told Richard about Desmond, I couldn’t even talk to him about my pain on the phone. My belief that there was a chance that the relationship between Desmond and me could be saved soon faded away. I’d been wrong in my decision and as the days rolled by I grew more and more depressed. I longed to go back to Frankfurt and my beloved Richard, but it was too late. I couldn’t just run away and give up. I still had my studies to look forward to after all. My aim to get closer to God was also a reason I couldn’t just run back to Germany. I was going to make it, even if it killed me!
The sadness smothered me though. I finally found a job in a small local English pub: The Ram. I earned a minimal wage but it was something to keep me busy for the time being. I felt almost degraded to have to work in a dingy pub for peanuts when I knew what I could do and what I’d walked away from. The stylish, cultured and well-off life I’d had in Frankfurt was what I’d worked for, built myself up to deserve. The grimy pub in dirty London was not what I felt I deserved at that stage of my life. It ate me up inside but I had to earn a living.
7 September 2004
A few nights ago I almost slipped off the edge of my sanity. I cried for hours, realizing that a manic depression had caught hold of me. I so long to go home, just for a rest, a holiday, a little love and peace from the people I love. I feel a little mad here. Desmond refuses to recognize that my concerns are worthy, he keeps telling me to ignore it and now they are building up to a big, mad mess in my head.
All I feel is nothing. Numb right to my bones. I feel no hope, no passion, no love and no hate. I am tired. There is nowhere to run. Except into the darkness. I see visions of my dead body found on my blue bed by a housemate. It’s finally over, the pain is gone. The only thing that stops me from suicide is my parents. That is the only thing. No one can help me. Only me. But I am so weak right now. I try to get up each time, and take another step, but I keep falling down again. I see no cure for this. I need help so desperately but there is nothing and no one. God. Only God. Please help me!
I am not feeling sorry for myself. Not like the past depression I’ve had. I just have no energy to go on. In the bigger scheme of things, compared to other people, my struggle seems petty. I know. I cannot even ask for help, as I fear ridicule and rejection. I so long to end it. I so long to feel no more and pretend no more. This place is killing me.
That same night I prayed to God to please help me. I knew He was calling me to go to church again, but I admit that I was too tired to even make the effort. I was too exhausted from crying every day and struggling with my relationship with Desmond; I desperately wanted things to get better.
The very next day I received a phone call from Sarah, a girl from the Hillsong Church. I had been to one of their services in April with one of the teachers at the nursery school. Then I felt like I’d finally arrived home and spent the entire service in tears. I filled in the “new persons’ card that day but never went to another service again. I was too busy trying to repair my relationship with Desmond, spending every spare moment with him.
Sarah invited me to a home group and I very gladly accepted her invitation. I couldn’t believe that God had literally come to pick me up in my darkest hour by sending this girl on my path. A home group meant a few friends who were all in the same situation: in a foreign country, alone and my age, but with God very much a part of their lives.
Desmond moved out of the house in August and I continued to work in the pub. I started looking for a new place to stay as I couldn’t possibly afford the rent for our big room on my own. This was when my life took a turn for the worse. The following few months was a time I never expected. After meeting the girls from Hillsong, I thought that it was time for things to start looking up for me. I’d never been so wrong in my life!!!