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Looking for Love

There are many youths out there, especially on-campus ladies, who have found themselves in situations similar to mine

 I met Musonda when I was in my second year on campus.  He was my very first love.  The moment I met him I knew he was the one who deserved my heart.  There had been guys who had asked me out before, but I kept turning them down.  Musonda seemed to possess all the qualities I wanted in a man; he was handsome and knew just how to make me feel special and really loved.

Prior to coming to the university, I had been a very strong believer in the Lord and I had very strong principles, especially pertaining to sex.  I was for abstinence and I did not hesitate in telling Musonda about my position.  He said he was going to respect my wishes of wanting to stay a virgin because he loved me so much.  I thought he was one in a million and somehow I believed I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. 

Three months into the relationship, he started demanding sex.  He said he could not live without it and that if I could not give in he was going to turn to imports (non-campus ladies who exchange sex for money).  Even with that threat I still stood my ground.  He stopped coming to see me and he only called me once in a long while.  During this time I felt so lonely because I was used to seeing him all the time.  I even noticed my academics slipping because of it.  Coupled with this was the fact that all my friends were in relationships and they seemed to be enjoying themselves.  They went out for meals, movies and walks.  I believed I had done nothing wrong and somehow I thought Musonda was going to come back to me because love never fails.  That was, until I heard about Sally.

My friends started telling me that Musonda was seeing another girl called Sally.  Although my heart was torn in two, I simply could not accept what they were telling me.  I told myself he was meant for me and that things were going to work out soon.  On the surface I was okay; however, deep down in my heart where no one visited, I was hurting so badly.  I felt so insignificant because I thought Musonda had picked Sally over me because she was more beautiful, intelligent and adventurous.  It was then that I started to have second thoughts about my beliefs pertaining to sex and the choices I had made.

I guess I simply became too desperate for his love; when he showed up two months after his so-called 'fling' with Sally, I slept with him with protection.  It was not a good experience.  It hurt a lot and it left me feeling used and dirty, like one of the imports.  All I wanted was his love.  I comforted myself by saying that I had done what people in love do.  I was so blinded by it all that I did not bother to ask what had even happened between Musonda and Sally.  It was only later that I found out Sally was not the only girl Musonda had been pursuing.

This was the most miserable time of my life.  I started sleeping with Musonda on a regular basis just so I could have someone to call my own.  To the outside world, our relationship looked perfect; however, deep down I was not happy and the feeling of guilt constantly haunted my thoughts.  Sleeping with him became a habit.  After clubbing with his friends, he would come straight to my room to have sex with me.  I thought it was better he slept with me than with one of the imports.  To this day no one knows about this secret life I had with Musonda.  My friends and family still believe I am a strong, independent virgin.

 It was the realization that I was leading a double life that started to eat me up inside.  I constantly worried and it affected me greatly.  I lost a significant amount of weight and I hated myself, especially when Musonda showed up on my doorstep asking for sex.  He never made love to me the way I wanted; he was only concerned in pleasing himself.  I gave up all self-worth in order to sexually please him.  I lost my self-esteem and I was dying for someone to talk to.  However, I was forced to keep it to myself because of the risk of rumors spreading around campus if someone found out.

Somehow I convinced myself to forget him because I realized this whole time he had simply been using me for my body; I felt so objectified and almost forgot that I was still a human being.  I tried over and over again to tell myself to forget the 'relationship' had ever existed, but time and time again it failed.  He was out of sight but constantly on my mind and in my dreams.  How I wished I could have talked to someone!  I couldn't even trust the campus counselling center that was located on campus because of the fear of rumors spreading

My academic work suffered for a while because of the constant inner-battle within myself.  I knew, however, that I had to work extra hard for my family's sake.  Everyone in my family looks up to me and my parents have sacrificed a lot for me to be on campus.  My father retired 11 years ago has had to struggle a great deal to send all 10 of us to school.  With the pressure to be a good role-model for my family, coupled with the incredible guilt and loss of my self worth and esteem, I came to my breaking point.

Last July I was convinced I was finally over him and decided to confront him about 'our relationship'.  This turned out to be the worst thing I could have possibly done.  On the 29th of July (the date is important because it is forever engrained in my mind), I slept with Musonda without protection for the first time in my life.  I knew and still know about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.  Before the act I asked him to use protection but he brought up the issue of trust.  I asked myself how I could trust him when he had cheated on me with both Sally and the other girl; nevertheless, I complied.  Looking back, it seems I had lost myself.  I was so desperate for love that I was willing to risk my life in order to find it.

            When I went back to my room that night the realities of HIV/AIDS and pregnancy hit me hard.  For my family's sake I asked God to spare me the pregnancy.  I seemed to be more afraid of being pregnant than I was of being infected with the deadly virus.  I almost justified the possibility by telling myself I deserved HIV for my actions and irresponsibility.  I cried until my body ached that night and the nights to follow.  My fears haunted me in the darkness of the night when I was alone in my thoughts.  Thankfully, I discovered I was not pregnant in August.  I was too afraid to think about the danger of HIV so I tried to erase the experience from my consciousness.  I pretended the haunting July 29th evening never happened.  I gave up Musonda to a first year student.  I told myself God had someone special just for me.  I gave my life back to the Lord but whenever someone mentioned HIV/AIDS, I remembered the fact that my conscious was still not cleared.  My mind was simply not yet free.

Today, just a day before world AIDS day, I am the happiest person alive because I learned that I am HIV negative.  For the first time in three years I am free to be positive about my life and my future.  Now I can plan my life knowing that I do not have to dwell on the past.  Being HIV/AIDS positive was not going to change anything - I would still be a determined individual dedicated to national and family development.  However, now I can do this with a free conscience and mind.

There are many youths out there, especially on-campus ladies, who have found themselves in situations similar to mine.  Ladies, love your selves enough to protect yourselves from HIV/AIDS by always using protection, sticking to one faithful partner, or, best off, by abstaining.  We cannot pretend that people are not having sex so know what is best for you.  I know we may need someone by our side every now and then but ladies we do not need men to make us feel we are real ladies.  I believe there is someone for everyone no matter how long it may take us to find them.  My sharing this story has released a very heavy burden from my heart and mind.  Be bold to share your story as well.

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