The following was written by my wife Eve and republished here due to Posterous shutting down.
I lived in Slovakia for the first 19 years of my life. I grew up in what was then perceived as a
strange family with strong women and weak men. The decision to move to the UK was a joke, some form of an adventure,
something I could put a stop to at any point, should I want or need to. I was meant to stay for two years and learn
about the culture, improve my language skills, get some working experience, have something to tell the friends back
home. It took me a year to realise that I didn’t want to go back home.
‘Back home’ was black and white. My future was clearly defined. Between the ages of 7 and 14, I wanted to be a
doctor. At 14, after a botched blood take, I realised I was not going to be able to stab anyone with a needle, ever.
So I decided to become a teacher. After all, my nan was a teacher all her life, and I enjoyed working with kids and
teenagers, and I had a genuine passion for the English language. What was there to think about? The only decision I
would have to make was what age kids I wanted to teach.
I was going to go to uni, get my degree, stay in my home town and teach at one of the primary or secondary schools.
I was going to stay living with my mum, look after her as she gets older, and lead the life of a happy spinster. I
was going to travel to the US one day because the US was the greatest country in the world. I was going to stay an
active church member and gradually take on some leadership in church-based projects.
And then the UK happened. I don’t recall how it even came about. One day I was taking the entrance exams to the
uni I wanted to get into, the next day I was applying for an au-pair position in London. I remember speaking to
Tanja, the lady I was to work for on the phone, but not actually anything that’s been said. I remember getting out
of the coach (oh yes, I came here by coach, 36 odd hours sitting down being bored out of my skull), with my friend
Jane waiting for me. We got into a cab and went to Olympia, which was to become my home away from home. Tanja was
standing on the top stair, radiant, friendly, and oh-so-very pregnant. The toddler was strapped in her high chair
doing something vaguely resembling eating. I had only one thought, one word, in my head at this point and it is too
rude to be published.
The first six months were a blur. I spent two months in France with the family which helped me get grounded and snap
out of the dream-like state I was in for months. I accepted that things would never be the same as before. I would
never be the same.
I was enjoying my British adventure, for the most part, thinking that at any time, I can just go back. When,
inadvertently, I realised that there was no going back, I felt such a tremendous sense of loss that I had to have
therapy to overcome it. I ended up dwelling on the same thoughts, whirling in my head, over and over again. I
didn’t feel at home in the UK. I didn’t feel at home in Slovakia. Things have changed, people have changed, even
the good old furniture in our flat has been replaced with the new and shiny. I couldn’t cope with the changes
(which is one of the most prominent signs of mental ill-health there is). For goodness' sake, I even cried for the
old battered sofa.
I was depressed and I wasn’t aware of it. I felt lost, scared, and needed someone to be there for me, to say
‘it’s gonna work out, trust me’ but there was no one. I felt like the only person in the world who was
misplaced, with no home, no life, nothing to my name but a bunch of debts and ruined relationships. I was thoroughly
unhappy. I was longing for the easy life ‘back home’, knowing full well that there was no going back.
I guess the reason why I am writing this will become obvious in my next post. These two will be very loosely
I was 25, 26, 27. Had I stayed in Slovakia, I would have finished my studies and been a teacher for five years. I
would have saved enough money for a deposit on a flat, should I ever want one. I would have remained friends with
the people that mattered to me, I would have been a permanent fixture in my community. I would have been grounded
and clear on what my role in this life is.
Instead, I felt a massive loss. I lost friends, I lost out on years with my family that no one will give me back. I
partially lost my faith. Worst of all, I lost Sisi. I felt like my life has passed me by. Yes, I was 27 and I felt
like I have missed my chance to be someone, to achieve something with my life. I was disappointed with myself.