My story is first and foremost a love story. Love knows no borders after all. I was born and raised in Belgium. All my life I’d had this feeling that my destiny was to leave my country for good one day. An exchange at school when I was 17 was my first taste of the UK. I enjoyed it but most of all I enjoyed speaking the language. For some reason I left the UK thinking in English and it has been my language for thought ever since.
When I was 20, I met my now husband on holiday in Mexico of all places. After a year’s long distance relationship, I moved in with him. The reason for me to move with him in the UK was practical more than anything. It may have just as well been the other way round under different circumstances: we just wanted to be together. My husband, being older than me, already had a job and his own home in Britain. I had just come home from au-pairing in the US and still lived with my parents, so my journey to the UK was the logical move. I immediately felt at home when I arrived. I was affectionately known as the ‘weird foreigner’ among my husband’s friends but I felt loved by them all.
Fast forward eighteen years, we have two children that are Belgian only – because they were born before we were married and before 2006 when the rules changed – as well as two dual nationality children. We got married in 2008. I retrained and now work for the NHS as a midwife.
I had anticipated the result of the Referendum, even though I hoped that my fears would not become reality. The atmosphere in the UK has always been anti-EU. Somehow it seemed that any new regulation coming from the EU was seen as a personal attack on the British. I often had discussions with my husband that these rules and regulations applied to the rest of the EU too!
Since the referendum, I have felt stressed, upset, frustrated and in disbelief. The ‘the people have spoken’ rhetoric upsets me particularly, because it completely disregards the feelings of pretty much half of the country. Personally I feel that I should be fine. I should be qualifying for Permanent Residency, but I haven’t sent off my paperwork yet. After obtaining PR, I want to get British citizenship because I want to have a voice at the next elections. My eldest two children qualify for British Citizenship too, so I have sent off their applications. I hope to protect the rights of my family by making sure we are all British, as well as Belgian. My home and life are here and I still love this country, so leaving has never entered my mind.