I first came to Babes because I wanted to learn more about my rights as a young, unmarried, pregnant teenager. I also needed financial assistance. I was already half-way through my pregnancy. Even though my boyfriend was supportive, I was still anxious. I wanted to give my baby a good life.
Initially, I was hesitant to talk about much else apart from working through practical issues. However, over multiple sessions with my Babes caseworker, I gradually felt more comfortable to explore what was truly troubling me. As a young child, I watched helplessly as my father walked in and out of my life. My mother did all she could to support my brother and I, but she was physically and emotionally exhausted. When my father moved out permanently, and my brother also left home to join a gang, I felt my family was crumbling. My mother would lock herself in her room when she came back from work, and whenever I wanted a little of her time and attention, my grandmother would scold me and tell me to be understanding of all of the difficulties my mother was facing. I quickly learnt that in order to win my mother’s affection, I had to be supportive and not add on to her burdens. I often fell asleep to the sound of my mother sobbing in her bedroom.
While it was difficult for me to grow up without a stable parent-figure, things became even harder when my mother started to bring in multiple boyfriends after divorcing my father. Her boyfriends were sometimes quite young and they would misbehave with me. I felt scared and I was really upset when my mother would take their side over mine.
With all of this, the one person I could count on was my boyfriend. We met in school and he was good to me. He included me in his family life and when he found that I was pregnant, he wanted to get married. I wanted to marry him too, but I found out that I may need my father’s consent to do so because of my age. I did not want my father to be a part of my life anymore and the last think I wanted to do was to ask his permission to get married. With all of the emotional baggage I was carrying, being pregnant, and with the financial pressure of raising a child, my relationship with my boyfriend also started to come under great strain. I felt things were becoming really hopeless.
At Babes, over several sessions, I gradually picked up the tools to help myself. I was directed to financial aid and was advised on my rights given my age and situation. Moving beyond just logistical support, my caseworker provided tremendous emotional and psychological support. Initially, I was reluctant to take charge of what was going on in my life, but I slowly learnt to recognize and safely explore many of my hidden emotions. I also learnt how to best communicate what I was feeling without alienating or blaming the other person. I learnt how to keep my anxiety under control using breathing techniques, and kept a journal to elicit deeper reflection. All of this was very empowering for me and combined with my commitment to do the best for my child, I started healing and worked on the strained relationship with my mother.
I gave birth to a healthy baby, and when I was holding my child in my hands, I had the grace to realize what my mother must have gone through, to forgive her and want to move ahead. I really felt like a heavy stone was being lifted off my chest and that I was now able to untie a big knot. I also used the communication tools I learnt at Babes to improve and secure my relationship with my boyfriend, whom I married.
I feel confident enough with my new abilities and my family support system to suspend sessions with Babes, knowing that I could always come back to them if I needed to. I continue to write journals and strongly feel that reflection is an important tool to know oneself better. By knowing myself deeper, I have been able to be kinder to myself and improve my relationships with others.