What to do when your parents decide England is crap and drag you with them

I wanted to document my time that i spent living abroad as a kind of therapy for myself.

My name is Nia and 2 years ago, myself and my parents moved to the South of France. I would like to add that my opinion was never really considered in this decision, which proved to be a regular issue, surprisingly! At the time i was 16 years old, which tended to leave everyone with the same open-mouthed expression when i told them of my news of moving to another country. Regular responses tended to cover things such as: my ‘awkward age to adapt to something like that’ and ‘my refusal to change my ways’. You can understand my frustration when i was actually trying to make a change and adapt to something incredibly intimidating. Moreover, i hadn’t even left the UK yet and i was already being faced with negativity towards change.

My last summer with my friends before our departure was filled with fear, anger and guilt for which i couldn’t explain. It was almost like i was preparing to ruin my parents dream of us living in France together, but my stubbornness was clouding my conscience.  I went through the obvious stages of depression, denial and then came the acceptance. As I waved off my boyfriend of 3 years happily, I got in the car with my parents, filled with personal possessions and pets and drove away from my life, numb.  i lived the last moments of summer in France. These moments had occasions filled with family, barbeques, sunshine and sunflowers. It’s ironic that my favourite flower is the sunflower, considering the thought of them used to make me so sad. It hadn’t hit me yet, but like a late train, it was due to come eventually.

My first day of college arrived too swiftly and i will never forget the feeling of that morning. Already sinking into a lonely depression, i attempted to speak broken french to complete utter strangers. In my opinion that is the start of an effort. I will always have a moment that stays with me where my mother waved me off looking like she’d just done the worst thing she could ever do to me. All she wanted was happiness for me, somehow i think everyone preempted that i wouldn’t last long. My parents had a slight faith in me that i could last a year, it crushed them when i couldn’t even manage half that time. These are the people who up and left to Luxembourg at an incredibly young age, my parents were used to living in new places. To us it wasn’t new, we’d had a house in France for 10 years, surrounded by family. Sounds ideal.

Towards the end of september the arrival date of school approached. The Lycee was immense in size and not one person tried to speak to this mysterious character that stood sheepishly before them. I was stood frozen, being swamped by massive waves of French teenagers staring at me. I attended the Lycee for 2 days, which lead to a breakdown in front of my mother. I never returned to school in France, i just couldn’t do it. What followed was blazing rows with my broken parents, refusal to leave my bed during the day, severe depression and a hate for everyone and everything that was involved with France. I needed to go home – i told myself. I’d already made my mind up and my poor attempts, overcome with emotion, had failed me and my parents. They had to let me go home to what i knew for now.

Shockingly, France is now my retreat. Maybe it’s because my parents turned it into a home for me or maybe it’s simply because they are there. Our flourishing relationship is the one positive i draw from my short experience in France and our time together is cherished since my return to England. The emotion will always follow me from France and i will never forget the dull yet painful feeling i experienced whilst living there in a cold depression. I don’t know why i fell into a dark spiral. Was it the wrong time? Was it my own problem not being able to make the effort?  In my head, i wasn’t ready to start a brand new life journey when i was happy with the one i had.


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