Coming to Canada – Difficulties

“Greece is so far away from Canada!”

“Canada’s weather is so cold, you won’t make it there!”

“When are you coming back?”

“Why do you want to leave Greece? You’ve made it so far, you can make it further, don’t give up!”

“You won’t be able to stay there, the culture differences are huge!”

“Oh, Canada, the land of the well-off people. You think going there is going to change how people think of you? You’ll always be the same person, just in a different country, you know!”

These is a small sample of what I heard when I announce that I was planning on immigrating to Canada. I could go on, but I think that I’ve made my point…

Undoubtedly, there were people that were happy for me, and I’ll be sure to come back and talk about them, because they deserve an article dedicated to them specifically. But now, let’s focus on the ones that weren’t so supportive of me leaving my country and coming to Canada.

I come from a poor and abusive background, a fourth daughter to my father, but first daughter to my mother and our family. I have a younger sister that I love so very much, it pains me to be so far away from her. I don’t regret anything that has happened in the past. Do I wish I could grow up in a financially better house? Hmm, maybe… Do I wish I had grown up in a non-abusive and all-loving family? Absolutely! Do I regret that these haven’t happened? Nope!

I won’t lie to you, there have been times I regretted even being born, and I’m sure there would such times in the future as well. That profile of the physically and mentally healthiest human being, that has even undergone psychotherapy, but is a reborn individual with no issues? Yeah, that’s non-existent. I won’t deny that there are people who believe that they are perfect and there isn’t anything left for them to learn -I was actually recently told about such a couple. All I’m saying is that my opinion is that this is not an achievable end. And, as a matter of fact, every time I hear that as a goal, I get worried, because these are some darn high standards. Been there, done that! There was a time I believed that I could heal perfectly, to the point that I won’t be hurting any more, and I won’t remember of my past. But, see? Won’t remember of my past… There it is, the last and ultimate defense!

But, anyway, let’s not sidetrack here. After some painful revelations regarding my childhood during the summer of 2016, I decided that I did not want to stay any further with my parents. I remember thinking that changing house and city was not enough. Changing a country would be more like it, and if I could move to another continent, then that would be optimal.

Before I knew it, I quit my job, because my employer was abusive, I was underpaid, worked way too many hours, and it wasn’t even relative to my studies. I found a job as a social worker pretty quickly and relatively easy, and the September of 2016 found me working in a job I liked, in an environment I could be more myself, saving money to take the English test and apply for a Master’s in one of the two universities in Ottawa.

I have to highlight the fact that I’m blessed and I have family here that was willing to help me come and start a new life here. A real family that loves me as I am and I love them back exactly as much and maybe even more.

My first attempt to come here in 2016/2017 was unsuccessful, and, to be completely honest, I got discouraged and starting giving in to the idea that I might not be able to leave as soon as I wanted. I tried to find employment here, instead of studies, but it was even harder. So, I took a leap of faith and decided to start psychotherapy studies in Greece, which was and remains to this day one of my biggest goals. It is also a dream, but I prefer to define it as a goal, because I know deep inside that it will happen one day. There, I realized some things about myself, since it started with all us participants getting to know each other and ourselves better. Very hard moments, but also weirdly pleasant because they were among people that knew how it felt, so I felt secure and safe to let my inner child talk and tell me things I had forgotten.

And right then, happened magic. I like to say that when I decided to let Canada go, Canada grabbed my hand and brought me closer. Before the Christmas of 2017, my aunt here suggested I came to Ottawa for vacations, to see for myself how it looks like here, and if I could actually survive that winter πŸ˜‚. And what do you know? I arranged everything and came here for a month, December 2017 to January 2018. It was also my first time traveling in a plane, and, let me tell you, it was a real adventure! Not because I’m not an easy passenger or something, but because I arrived here 17 hours after I should have. Another big story πŸ˜….

I spent a month here, and it was perfect. So very much. Really. And then was the time I decided that this is the place I wanted to spend my life in, and I would try as hard and as much as I had to in order to immigrate here. The winter was really bad that year, and I remember a couple of people telling me that it was that year, that I had decided to visit Ottawa, that it was so cold, so I had to go back to Greece and take that winter with me! πŸ˜‹ I experienced love, freedom and acceptance as I had never before in my life.

I spent the next six months preparing to come here. I had accepted that I would probably have to take a longer journey with my studies, because I applied for a Master’s in a different field than my undergraduate studies. And then, quota happened! I was admitted to the Master’s program directly, without a qualifying year. I remember that day so vividly; I was so happy, I was crying from happiness, calling all my beloved persons to tell them I had made it!

The next months passed quite fast, as I had to take care of a multitude of things. After all, I was about to leave a country and start living in another, quite far away. I took care of the legalities, sent my clothes and important things here, gave away lots of clothes and things I believed would make happy other people and closed the house I lived in by the end of June of 2018. I had a couple of weeks left in Greece after that, so I moved in with one of my besties, and started meeting my favorite people for the last time. It was quite an emotional period for me, and I had lots of realizations, some of which I wished I had before I started trying to come here.

Lastly, I had to visit my parents. I have a quite complicated relationship with them, so I generally cut ties after I moved out of their house, and started living on my own. I remember calling my mother to tell her that I wanted to visit them and tell them some important for me news. I remember trying hard not to tell her what it was about, but eventually giving in and telling her that I leaving Greece in less than ten days. I hadn’t even told them that I had come here for vacations, so it was a complete shock for her. I did visit them after a couple of days; I remember being so nervous and afraid to talk to my father about that. You would think that after long and continuous psychotherapy, finding a good job, moving out and being independent (physically, at least), emotions like these would go away. But nope. They were still there, and I was still nervous and afraid of his reaction. But I had to tell him, and I had to say a proper goodbye. I decided long ago that I forgive him and her, not because they necessarily deserved it, but because I did. I read somewhere that anger is like a fireball. You hold it tight, believing that you would hurt the other(s), but in reality is your hand that hurts.

So, I told him! “I’ve been accepted to a Master’s program in Canada, and I’m leaving in a couple of days”. His first words were “when are you coming back?”. Initially, I got scared and told him that I would be back in a couple of years, after the end of my Master’s. But then I thought that this was a bunch of bs, because I was planning of trying to stay here. So, I took a deep breath and told him that I actually wanted to live there, so I would try to stay after the completion of my studies. He was very skeptical at the beginning, as he was processing the idea of me going far away from him. I told my parents and my sister that I was very happy and excited to start this new chapter of my life, and that I would try as much as I can to visit them. And that was it. We spent the next hours talking and laughing, and then I said goodbye and left.

I saw my mother again before leaving, and we agreed that we would scrap the past and start over. And in many ways, we have done that. I saw my sister more times, and she even escorted me to the airport, along with my other bestie. My sister was crying so much as the time to leave was coming, but my bestie was so excited and happy to see me fulfilling my dream. In some ways, I think that it was a defense, so she would not cry and feel sad. It sounds so egotistical to say that, but I know my friend! She was certainly happy for me, I don’t doubt that even a tiny bit. I remember descending, to go and check in, and looking up to them. My friend was smiling and waving me goodbye, and my sister was crying so hard, she had to step away to avoid seeing me vanishing.

I cried a lot. I got in the airplane and was feeling so sad for leaving. I kept replaying the scene of my sister leaving again and again in my mind. Even as I write this, my eyes are tearing. I thought of my mom, and how much I was going to miss her. My besties. My friends. Some of my colleagues from work. My life there. But I trusted that I knew what I was doing and that coming here was the best thing for me.

And then, I landed here. My uncle came and picked me up from the airport in Montreal, and in the way to our house I fell asleep 🀣. We grabbed a bite to eat before coming back, and I remember being so happy and energetic! And then, I fell asleep on the way back. He kept waking me up because it was still morning, and I kept falling back asleep. My relatives were waiting for me, and I was so wholeheartedly happy to see them! A family I had never had.

The thing with dreams is that we dream of the day we will achieve something, but we never really think what we’ll do once we reach our goal. We tend to think of it as an American movie with the happy end. So, I came here, and then I realized that all my efforts were successful, and I was about to study and live here. But did that actually mean? πŸ˜‚. I had no clue whatsoever. But, I had to explore, research, and learn. And that’s what I did.

Thanks so much for reading this! I’d love to read your thoughts in the comment section below. Until then, I send love and light to all of you ❀

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