The Other…

Today I’m travelling to Liverpool.

In September 1976, I travelled by train to Liverpool for the first time to start a course in Occupational Therapy. It was the start of my life in the UK, the start of something new.

I had no idea what to expect. I did not know then that I would end up spending most of my life in the UK. Becoming an Occupational Therapist gave me a foundation for adult life, it is an amazing career and allowed me to meet so many wonderful people from all walks of life, and develop an interesting career. I loved my life in Liverpool, and l worked there for a few years after I qualified. The city felt like home.

But today it is so much harder for me to feel at home in the UK. It makes me feel so sad that the rug has been pulled from our feet. Feeling at home is so much more than sorting out an immigration status. It helps, but being accepted and feeling safe and relaxed is so important. Since the referendum I find it much harder to navigate my life outside my home. There is always that little bit of tension inside me. Meeting new people and even old friends makes me wonder if they are friend or foe.

I feel I’m now “the other”, I can’t shake off this feeling however hard I try. We had to endure so much hate and propaganda against us, our lives is governed by constant uncertainty and chaos, by everchanging contradictory statements how “welcome” we are. Whatever happens, too much damage has been done.

Healing is possible, but how long will it take?

Dorothee, German, in the UK since 1976.

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