Time to Celebrate: 10 Years in England

IMG_4404Exactly 10 years ago, I boarded a plane to England. I had a single ticket, courtesy of the British Council which fully funded my Masters in Law at University of Birmingham.

I’ve been to England twice before. I was a visiting lecturer to the University of Kent. With a colleague from my home university, we had come to develop modules on Biodiversity. Both trips had been fairly short. Each time we had stayed for three weeks in peaceful Canterbury.

This time it was different.

I was a student. I was in an abusive long-distance relationship. I ran away from my family, literally disappeared. Again. When I went to say goodbye to my mum… I chickened out. Not that I was about to tell her that I was leaving for England. I wanted to see her for the last time. From a little window opening into her kitchen, I watched her frail frame stooped over a kitchen table. She was smoking. My legs refused to walk towards her. The grief I carried for 30 years of my life was too much. I was angry, lost, disorientated.

My delusion that I left it all behind because I moved to another country soon became apparent. It wasn’t just a giant 33 kilo suitcase I dragged with me to England. It was also the weight of all the unspoken hurts, multiple traumas, and rage that I brought along. To top it up, just on the verge of departure, I got into a toxic relationship that held me back for the first five years in England.

The years I had spent disentangling from the past were painful. I reached the point where I couldn’t tolerate the pain anymore. Life conspired. I came across various healing workshops and retreats. I’ve spent the last five years healing like my life depended on it. I often joke that I’ve been doing healing like a full-time job. It wasn’t a passing hobby. I’ve never been more serious in my life.

And it paid off. I turned my life around.

Exactly 10 years on, I’m happily married with two gorgeous kids. We have a lovely home and live in a green area. I feel valued, loved and respected, exactly as I am. My creativity is blossoming every day. I’ve got to a point where I can hold a space for others to free their authentic voice. It’s an incredible privilege that fills me with joy and facilitates my further growth.

Ironically, I am travelling back to Azerbaijan next week to visit my family. My relationship with my family is the best it has been all my life. They are eagerly awaiting for my return, and I cannot wait to see them!

Since this is my 10th anniversary in England, here are 10 things I’m grateful for in this decade:

  1. Meeting and marrying my soul mate.
  2. Birthing my two beautiful children. Looking into their eyes. Drinking in their love. Letting love melt my heart.
  3. Passing my PhD viva without a single correction. That was 80,000 words + 40,000 words in footnotes! And getting it from the ‘God’ of EU law was unbelievable. My husband and another friend proofread it for me. So deep gratitude for all that support.
  4. Finding courage to meet my dad’s side of the family. It was certainly a turning point in my life, an event that inspired me to write a memoir.
  5. First Christmas. Like proper one. One of the lecturers on my Master’s course ‘adopted’ me until I got married. I celebrated Christmas with her and her family for three years. Each time I stayed with them for three days and experienced a ‘textbook’ version of proper Christmas 🙂 I’m glad I had that experience.
  6. Speaking up my truth. For years, I’ve been hiding out. Believe it or not, but I am quite a private person, verging on secretive (old habit I’m gradually letting go of). In the past, my life depended on how well I could lie and hide. To blog openly about my life and speak authentically is something I did not imagine ever doing.
  7. Voting for the first time in my life and knowing that that vote counts (not that it influenced the outcome of the elections, but still…)
  8. Making friends. I don’t have many of them, but those I have are for life.
  9. Finding communities where I belonged and was welcomed exactly as I am. Those range from my husband’s family to Five Rhythms dance in Birmingham and London to online communities of bloggers and various healing and writing courses.
  10. Spending time on the shores of my beloved Atlantic Ocean. Oh, and travelling to amazing places like Mauritius and the Canaries. Believe it or not, my two trips to Mauritius were work-related. One of them was shortly after we got married. Needless to say, my husband followed me on both occasions. 🙂

I could keep going. After all we are talking about a whole decade, one quarter of my entire life in this beautiful world. Off to celebrate.

20 thoughts on “Time to Celebrate: 10 Years in England

      • Yes, there is an element of luck of birth. It’s all perceived in comparison, isn’t it? I remember reading a book about women’s plight in Afghanistan and thinking Thank God I was born in Azerbaijan! 🙂
        There is also our life journeys. Making it this far is incredible for me. It shaped me as an individual. I would have loved for the journey to be smoother, but I guess I appreciate more what I’ve got today…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m applauding your success in conquering the unhappy part of your life. I totally relate to your feelings as I’ve had eight years of therapy to help me separate from my family. I wrote about my brother’s dealing with our family, as he was brave like you and ran away. He eventually obtained him Master’s Degree in Psychology. My brother and friend died 22 years ago. I miss him sorely. Now my parents are dead and the real me can come out of hiding. Congratulations on your delightful journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really hear how much you miss him and how much you admired his courage and achievements, Gwynn. Thank you so much for sharing. And I am delighted that real you is out and not hiding anymore. It’s such a huge relief, isn’t it. Thank you for reading and commenting. Deep gratitude for journeying with me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. Congratulations Gulara!
    I am so glad to “know” you, I am sure we will meet somewhere sometime…
    And I am also happy that you have managed so much since arriving in England and that you have put your life on a good track. Keep on inspiring us!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful post, and so much to be grateful for. You story gives hope and inspiration to many. The sense of being at peace that comes through your words is encouraging. Thank you for sharing your journey and success.

    Liked by 1 person

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