“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
― Maya Angelou
Let me tell you a little story about a girl who spent her entire life looking for a place to call home and who; on one blessed day, thought she had finally been fortunate enough to find it… Surprise, surprise… the girl is me;
Growing up was really difficult for me… I have a large, beautiful family that I love more than anything else in this world but no matter how much I loved them, or they loved me, nothing could prevent the chaos that would be our life together…
Although I was living with my family, in circumstances that would most likely be regarded as privileged, I never felt at home. I never felt safe… I was constantly on edge, terrified of not being good enough, not being what was expected of me and to thereby end up causing inconvenience and pain for all those around me.
My father, despite loving me more than his own life, was, and is still, suffering from an undiagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Depression which left/leaves him incredibly anxious and unable to refrain from blaming me for much of his discomfort, even though I believe he additionally blames himself for not having taught or raised me well enough to avoid such errors. His anxieties and fears, coupled with his need to protect those he loves, forced him to tell me every possible negative outcome that could arise from my actions since in his mind it would save me from making such mistakes. It also drove him to continuously list all the reasons for why I had caused trouble, inconvenience or pain for those around me.
In a sense, I guess one could argue that the issues of the father were passed on to the child… I do not suffer from OCD, but in response to having experienced this I am left with a constant sense of terror; and I still, to this day, feel incredibly guilty and ashamed for whatever pain I may have caused my fellow human beings…
These experiences, coupled with various forms of abuse of which I do not yet have the strength or the heart to tell you about, I never truly felt safe or that I had a place that was indisputably my own….
And then the most bizarre thing happened;
When I was 17, my mother, the stepfather; of that time, and I went on a simple tourist trip to London, England. I was as excited as I could muster at the time and all I felt able to hope for was an overall pleasant trip. However, when we arrived at Stansted Airport we were required to leave the plane by use of those mobile staircases, and from there take a bus to the entrance of the airport, and I will never forget that experience.
The moment I stepped foot on English soil I experienced a massive jolt of energy and emotion go through both my body and mind; I was HOME.
I felt safe, I felt like this was the place where I could live MY life, not that which others require of me, and although having never been in London I immediately knew what to do and where to go. After all, I was home… so, of course, I knew where to go, of course, I never got lost or confused…
Ever since that moment, I was never able to shake that feeling. I was never able to shake the feeling that London, or maybe England as a country, was where I was meant to be. So, when I started considering applying for university degrees internationally, London was the undisputed choice.
I subsequently moved to London in 2012 and, no matter how difficult the years have been since then, I have always felt safe. I have always felt at HOME…. Until now…
The EU referendum has left me with an indescribable feeling of loss… I have been left completely speechless and I do not know if I will ever be able to explain what it is like to no longer feel welcome in a country that I had finally come to regard as my HOME… I honestly have no idea of where I belong anymore…and I have no idea what will come to pass…
So, as a final note, I simply want to say that for all of you who voted in favour of BREXIT, I respect your choice, I feel grateful for the democratic society in which we live and I am sorry that you feel like your world would be better off without your fellow Europeans.
And finally, to all those of you who cast a vote for inclusion, acceptance, love, and hope, I simply say this;
Thank you for fighting not only for what you, as British citizens, believe to be right but for the rest of us as well. Your support and love mean the absolute world to me and I am so grateful to you all.