I would add "religious."
I am an exile from Ireland. I have been so for fifty six years.
It’s a strange word, exile.
Me, I left because of religious intolerance – which infected entire families – of a woman/girl who became pregnant outside of holy matrimony. Back then, if this happened, there were three choices for a woman in that condition.
(1) Get married if the fellah was honourable and didn’t vanish or deny his responsibility. A choice not available to raped women or girls who were blamed for their condition and were now “spoiled” and deemed unmarriagable for any decent man.
(2)Be incarcerated in a Mother and Baby Home, run by nuns, giving birth in agony (suffering being a reparation for carnal sins committed) and then have the baby whisked away immediately and sold to a decent Catholic family in the U.S.
(3)Become a slave for life in the infamous Magdalene Laundries, mocked, beaten, demeaned and the baby yanked and sold immediately post birth.
(4)Emigrate to the UK, Australia, South Africa or Canada.
I chose options 1 and 4. I was twenty three years old.
To be pregnant and getting married (in a side chapel away from the prying eyes of relatives and friends who would be counting the months) was no joyful event. Disgusted judgment would be wrought upon the family of the bride for raising such a tramp. Fathers would forbid the errant daughter from darkening their doorway so the neighbours could observe their disapproval as would her siblings as a signal as to what could happen to them.
I hid my condition from everyone. I was, luckily, tall and carried high.
My wedding was a grand affair. Absolutely no one knew of my four month’s pregnancy and the Canadian Embassy blessed my potential emigration with free passage to my new country along with free rent on an apartment until we “settled in.” Many employment positions were lined up as Canada was in need of more bodies in the work force. Economically then, Ireland was dismal.
Shortly after the wedding we vamoosed on the SS Carinthia.
Standing on that deck, looking down at the tender taking my grieving family back to Cobh Harbour, I finally realized why it was known as the “Irish Wake”
I didn’t cry. I turned my face to look west, to the new land that awaited me with open arms.
I had exiled myself and my little one to Canada.