Moving Back to the UK and accepting my past

My feet captured in the Middle Eastern Sand, 2015 (Film camera, Rolliecord on 120 film)

When I moved back to the UK, I moved to London for university; I talk about this more in this previous blog post, if anyone is curious. And about where I'm from here.

But, when I moved, I was eager to forget my past.

I didn't want to think about the place that I grew up that I thought had caused so much trauma inside me.

I hated it. And I resented it greatly.

I felt like it's a place of torment for myself, somewhere that I never wanted to be again.

Somewhere I resented because of the feeling it gave me. That agony. The feeling of non-acceptance and mental health issues that plagued my teenage years.

So I (tried to) forgot all about it. I would only bring up my past reluctantly, with people that I trusted, who delved deep enough in the conversation (or, if I was drunk enough...).

And anything I would say would be with hesitation and reluctance, only pointing out the negative bits of my childhood to them.

I didn't want them to feel sorry for me. I didn't want them to give me any sympathy.

But I thought by spreading negativity, about the place that I lived and grew up, I would resolve the issues within myself, I saw it as a kind of payback.

In those first few years of living in the UK and not living in the Middle East, I did find it hard to adjust to a new country- I almost got hit by a car more than once because I looked the wrong way when crossing the road. I found it strange that people ride bikes here, and took public transport! It took me over six months to take my first bus trip in London. I found it strange that I could show my skin, and nobody would stare at me.

Yes, I had been back to the UK since I moved, fairly regularly too- once every six or four months in the end.

But those were snapshots of a place, holidays. Like expecting someone to fit in completely into society in the town where they rent a villa in Turkey once a year. That wasn't truly living here and experiencing it.

And then something weird happened. After truly settling into the UK, and settling down, after years of denial about where I come from, I found myself actually homesick for the place where I grew up.

And it hit me like a wave.

It knocked me for six. I didn't understand what was happening to me. I was in denial; how could I feel homesick? For the place that I blamed for all of my pain and trauma. The place that on no passport or official documents, I am from, yet I have spent the majority of my life?

How can I yearn for this place? I shouldn't call it my home. And yet, this is the place that formed my formative years, it's the place where I experienced so many things for the first time. To many things to count really- most people would count that as their home, and I know for a fact that my sister does, but I don't. I don't feel like it is. Maybe it's because she was so young when we moved, that she had no real memories of life before. But I did, and I still do. This made me feel stateless, an in-between child with no real home. Feeling like an outsider in the Middle East and a freak at home.

Or, at least I didn't feel that way about it, until I felt this homesickness happen extremely randomly and very suddenly one day, and it left me feeling slightly depressed- all those feelings coming back to me.

That was one part, the homesickness itself, and then the other part. Why I was feeling the homesickness itself too.

And then, over time, I started to think about my own feelings about this place that I grew up in and realise that in some parts it is my home. I've never wanted to call it my home and I never have.

But it is at times.

It's still the place that my parents live to this day. That must make it home in some ways. It's the place where my beloved pet is buried, so that makes it home in some ways. It is the place where I went to school for so many years, where I lived, where I grew up, it's the place that in part formed me into the person that I am today. Both the pain and joy of living there moulded me into who I am.

It's taken me a long time to accept my feelings about where I grew up, I was in denial for so many years. I think I'm starting to accept it now, albeit hesitantly.

There's a lot of unresolved feelings- negative feelings especially- about that place that I need to get over. I need to appreciate just how much it means to me. No matter how much you dislike somewhere where you spent the formative years of your life is still means a hell of a lot to you.

C x

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© 2019 Ciara Loane

Created by Ciara Loane.

London-based writer and stylist.

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