“Confidence, it’s a big thing. If you haven’t got it, you just fall in a heap, into that big black hole. You have to have hope in yourself as well.”

Samantha learned of the The Possibility Fellowship in late 2022 at a Ceremony for Befriend Volunteers in Wellard, where she was acknowledged for her assistance in hosting the local sewing group. Her thought, “[The Fellowship] is definitely my cup of tea.” Having participated enthusiastically in the Fellowship, her verdict: “it’s icing on the cake of my journey so far.” 


What a journey it’s been, and what a nourishing cake Samantha is baking. Her story is one of trauma and her long path to healing and recovery. Until recently, Samantha was too scared to tell her story to others for fear of being judged and advised on how to live her life. Only her two children, her dear friend, Pam, and her mental health worker know much of what she has been through. That’s changing, she told me: “I now feel very safe and trustworthy, after years of not being trusted in my marriage.” Years ago, Samantha stopped voicing her opinions because they were not welcome: “My mother and ex-husband wanted me to be what they wanted me to be as a daughter, a partner or wife.” 


Following her separation and divorce, Samantha lived in Adelaide with her parents, sisters and her two children aged 10 and 8. She did not cope well bringing up teenagers. She sent her daughter to live with her father and her son moved out to live with his mates. Having lost her husband, son and daughter, Samantha was grieving and had a mental health breakdown. 


Samantha’s daughter spent many years in the Navy in Perth, bought a house in Port Kennedy, and invited her mum to move from Adelaide and live with her. Samantha lived with her daughter for nine months and, with the help of her mental health worker, joined various community groups, including Befriend’s Canasta, Bingo, scrapbooking and sewing groups. Two years ago, her new friend, Pam, helped Samantha find a small unit she could afford to lease in Orelia. Samantha also became friendly with Inger Ward, Befriend’s local Community Builder, who encouraged Samantha to pursue her desire to, as Samantha puts it, “be part of the community in more of a leadership role.”


The Possibility Fellowship, Samantha explains, showed her she has gifts that she never knew she had. These gifts include resourcefulness, a gift other Fellows see in her, but she could not: “After everyone saying I don’t have this and I don’t have that all my life…I’ve become a lot stronger person. I do have gifts and I am a worthy person.” Samantha is learning that giving her gifts, which include teaching and sharing her lived experience, is part of her ongoing journey. “My life,” Samantha adds, “is very involved with finding good friendships and getting to know my fellow man… I have expanded my social life in Befriend… We can’t do the world alone. In my personal life I found out that I wasn’t alone, I was just lonely.” 


Samantha at 55 describes herself as a young senior. She is keen to get back into work. “My mental health,” she says, “has just been terrific, but my body isn’t always up to the challenges.” She believes she now has the strength and confidence to teach scrapbooking, especially to seniors. I would,” she adds, “love to pass my lived experience on, but I’m just not at that level at the moment.” Samantha is starting a Certificate 3 in Community Services with Insight Training Rockingham in July, which she hopes will open up work opportunities.


For Samantha, the main value of the Fellowship has been “self-awareness… I’m finding out what I want now, instead of what everyone else wants. The biggest benefit for her is “growing, just growing, getting that self-esteem back. Confidence, it’s a big thing. If you haven’t got it, you just fall in a heap, into that big black hole. You have to have hope in yourself as well.”

And Samantha is hopeful: “I don’t need that job, or being a full-time mum, or having a partner. Those roles have been and gone, and now I can find other roles. That said, Samantha adds a little word with a big meaning, “yet”, to her aspirations: “I don’t have a partner yet!”

This story was gathered in partnership with Samantha as she concluded her experience in The Possibility Fellowship 2023. Written 30 July 2023.