It started with a knock on her bedroom door and a look she’d never seen before.
Her mother was nervous but resolute. Determined to speak but struggling to find her voice. And then the words that made Zoe's heart sink: "Your dad and I are breaking up."
Zoe felt confused and disorientated. 100 swirling questions that she didn't know how to ask. She cried herself to sleep that night.
In the morning her dad was gone. One hug, one suitcase and a garbled goodbye: "I love you and I’ll see you soon."
Zoe's sadness was soon replaced with anger. Why this? Why her? Why now? Every day, Zoe asked herself what she'd done to deserve this.
Zoe felt different. Detached and removed, she stopped paying attention at school. Drifted away from her friends and stopped talking to her mum. In the space of a week, she'd shut down.
But just as a few words had turned Zoe's world upside down, it was a simple post-it with a phone number that turned it around again.
Zoe's mum had reached out to Barnardos for help. "I know you don’t feel like you can talk to me but I thought this might help. Maybe you could call them for a chat."
Zoe's first response was to screw up the post-it and throw it in the bin. But after she lay in bed late at night crying, she felt compelled to read it. And to pick up the phone.
“Zoe felt confused and disorientated. 100 swirling questions that she didn't know how to ask.”
Today, Zoe is doing a lot better
“She talks openly to her mum and she's also back on track at school.”
Through the 0800 WHAT'S UP line, Zoe found Sonia. Sonia helped her understand that what she was feeling was normal, that it wasn't her fault, and slowly helped her to overcome the feelings of uncertainty that had been building in Zoe. She also taught her simple techniques for talking to her parents.
Today, Zoe is doing a lot better. She sees her dad every week and they are rebuilding a positive and fun relationship. She talks openly to her mum and she's also back on track at school.
Because of people like you, our 0800 WHAT'S UP counsellors answer more than 120 calls every day from Kiwi kids in need of help.
Will you donate today to help kids like Zoe have someone to talk to when life gets tough?
*To ensure the privacy and safety of everyone concerned, names in this story have been changed and actors have been used for all photography.