This day – March 28th – was the first day I landed in my new home of Singapore many years ago. I was with my first husband and was convinced that this move – from one side of the world to the other – was the best thing I’d ever done. I was convinced that it was the beginning of the rest of my life.
I was sure that my husband I were destined to live our lives out under the tropical sun, working hard, contributing to society, raising several children and generally living a ‘normal’ life.
It wasn’t to be.
He was abusive from the start, but eventually, there came a straw that broke the camel’s back and I left him. Not long afterwards, I met my second husband – who was equally abusive – but in slightly different ways, so it took me a while to see it.
Not long after I left my second husband, and just before I turned 30, I realised I was pregnant with my second daughter. The father of this child ‘suddenly remembered’ he was married the day after I discovered I was expecting.
I was a single mother, with two children and no support – emotional or financial – from the fathers of my children. I was desperately trying to be all things to both of them, do my best for both of them. I was trying to do the impossible; work full time to earn enough to pay the bills and have a reasonable life-style and still be a full-time mother.
But I regret none of this.
My one regret is returning to Ireland at the end of 2004 with my children who were then two-and-a-half years old and five months old, respectively. Persuaded by people who claimed to have my best interests at heart (be wary of people who claim to have your best interests at heart – they usually only have their own best interests at heart) to leave Asia and return to Ireland, I did.
It was the biggest mistake of my life and the only thing in my life that I regret at a deep soul-level.
Ireland was never kind to me. Not when I was growing up here, and not in the years I have lived here as an adult with children of my own. I wish I had never come back. I wish I had analysed my situation, in 2004, closer and found a way to stay out of this country and keep my children safe (part of my reason for leaving was that my second husband had threatened to kidnap my eldest daughter and take her back to India. I couldn’t afford to under-estimate him).
But I didn’t. I didn’t look hard enough. I beat myself up for that. I took flight and took my children back to a country where they were not welcome. A country that bewildered me. A country that did not enfold me to its bosom and welcome me ‘home’.
Part of my biggest difficulty with living here is that – in spite of seven years tertiary education and nearly 20 years of work experience in various sectors – I have not been able to find paid employment here. It’s not for the want of trying, I can assure you. I went back to education when my girls were still babies and earned a BA (Hons) in psycology. Two years later, I had an MA. Nearly six months after graduating, I am still unemployed and sick of hearing that I need to stay positive and keep looking that ‘something’ will turn up.
After eight and a half years of hearing that, it rings hollow. Anyway, all I want to do is find a job that will enable me to move abroad again – either by dint of a transfer or by saving up enough to leave.
All those years ago, when I awoke to new life in a new world, nearly ten thousand miles away, I thought it was the first day of the rest of my life. My life certainly didn’t work out the way I expected it to.
But guess what? All these later, today is the first day of the rest of my life.