What was I doing ten years ago? Well, I was in England. Had been in England for four months, probably. Living in an overcrowded council flat with Eastern Europeans.
But before that, I was in the US. And I remember some of the last times I spent with my niece. She was six. I was already determined to leave. Got the citizenship and passport and everything.
There was a time when my niece came to my room and asked if I wanted to play a game. I said, "okay". So she said to close my eyes. I did. Then she ran out of the room and came back. She said, "Okay, you have to smell these things and guess what they are."
I said, "What? No way" and opened my eyes. I thought she was playing a trick on me. But no, she just had a banana and some other fruit. And she looked embarassed when I said I'm not doing it. So I felt really bad about that. I ruined the game. I still feel bad about it.
And I can't make it up to her. She's going to university soon. She won't want to play fruit smell guessing games any more.
And you'd think that leaving when somebody is six years old...they're not going to remember you and it won't be a big deal. But no, I think it had a significant impact on her.
When she was shown a picture of her father when she was maybe eight, she was disappointed. So my mother asked what she expected him to look like and my niece said, "Like Pete but darker". I was the only male influence for her until...I don't know...I guess when she was around eight my sister got married.
And I remember like the last couple days before I left she grabbed onto my neck while I was sitting down and I gave some piggyback rides. She hadn't done this ever before. And my mother commented that she didn't want me to leave which I think is right and why she did that.
So to be honest, I don't miss any of my family and the time lost, et cetera, but I do regret having to leave my niece because she liked me and I think leaving affected her.
But what was the alternative? The plan wasn't, "I'm going to Ireland! This is going to be awesome!" I didn't have a new job lined up. Not much money. It was, "I have to get away from this debt or else I'm going to kill myself".
That's almost certainly what would have happened had I stayed. I was deeply depressed. Stopped bathing. Stopped all personal hygeine. Stopped changing my clothes. And this went on for...I don't know...at least six months. Really messed my teeth up.
And something like this is happening, and my mother doesn't say anything. She makes vague references to the water company calling because they think our meter is broken because we're not using enough water. And she tells me to change my clothes but in an angry way. Stuff like this.
She didn't say, "Well, you just flunked out of law school, you owe $30,000 dollars, you're back living with your mother, and you don't have a job. This must be a very difficult situation for you. I'd like to help."
This is what a normal person would say. But she just ignored very obvious signs that I was depressed and suicidal. Worse than that, she continued her insulting, controlling behaviour.
So staying in that environment...I wouldn't have lasted much longer. And even aside from that, even if everything was fine, I'd still have to get a job and move out. I wasn't going to live with my mother for the next ten years. So I wouldn't have seen my niece much after that anyway.
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