“I created a unique set of circumstances that I landed here in June 2016. As I flew into Christchurch, for the first time, I got this overwhelming sense that I was home. And I’ve never had that. I had a feeling, an energy, I don’t know, that drew me to this place.
I had a lot of challenges up and down. I moved my family over here but in 2017 my ex-wife and I split up and the kids went back to Ireland. I went back to Ireland too. But my heart wasn’t there. So I moved back here. I had to make the decision to do this for me, or to stay and be unhappy. With the kids I figured out that I couldn’t actually be a good dad to them where I was in Ireland. So I had to come over here and look after myself and get myself in a good headspace.
So I’ve been here, on my own, coming up three and a half years now. And in three and a half years, I learned an awful lot about myself. I’ve found who I am. Part of growing up in Northern Ireland you’re put in one box or the other and you don’t know what to believe. You know, religion was a big thing over there. Here it’s not; in New Zealand, you’ve a free spirit here, where you’re allowed to find your own path. And I think that’s why I had to come here, to find my own path.
My oldest daughter moved over a month ago and now lives with me.
I think my biggest learning is being able to be open and vulnerable. I got to a point where my mental health, everything, was deteriorating. Two options; either to go down the medical route, or start to embrace it and actually just lean into the pain and the feelings and the emotions. And when I did, when I shared that with my close friends, they were there for me. I could see that unconditional love starting to come out in other people. And that was a big realization that we have to be open, we have to show our true selves.
For me, it’s all about acceptance, acceptance of people, where they’re at, who they are. Everybody has their own world-view. You have to allow people to be, and see that they’re all going through their own journey too.”