Getting Over Grief: Part I
A few months ago I wrote two blog posts for Marilyn at Communicating Across Boundaries about arrogance and Third Culture kids. I wasn't prepared for the reposting and the sharing that followed. I guess it resonated. A week later I received this email from a reader I'll call Greg* who'd read the posts, but who was frustrated. He wanted more answers. How was it possible to live respectfully in the new culture when the pain of the old hurt so much?
This is what he said:
I'm a 20 year old TCK that grew up in an Asian country. I went to boarding school, and graduated from that school. My passport country is in the west, and growing up I spent periods of time attending public high school, but most of my education was overseas.
The reason I'm writing is because I read your two blog posts on arrogance in TCK's, and I completely related to everything you said.
I have a major problem with despising people that don't understand other cultures, or that haven't been out of their own country. I still struggle today with wanting to reject people because they have a different background than me, which is basically everyone. And they struggle with accepting me.
Leaving my 'adopted' country was such a hard thing to give up. I knew graduation from my boarding school would be difficult, and I prepared for months for it, asking God to give me strength. But I never imagined the pain I would feel when I left it behind. There's days now where I'll just be sitting and remembering good times, and I'll get a deep, dull ache in my chest, right around where my heart is.
I really loved your conclusion, about how we need to be respectful, humble ourselves, and learn to enjoy, participate in, and take hold of the culture around us. I thought that was very wise and it's something that I'm trying to do.
But I felt your blog was missing something, and maybe you can help me understand, or give me some more wisdom.
How do you deal with the memories and the pain they bring? I've tried to bury them, and it almost led me to suicide about a year ago. I've also tried to express them, but so few people understand that it makes me feel worse, and hurts them too. Or maybe one person does understand, and so I will latch on to them and shut everyone else out.
I'm a musician and a painter, and I've been trying to express my memories through art and journals, but without that human connection I feel so unheard. I feel like half of my life, the part from the other side of the world, is dying, and no one cares.
So please tell me how you did it, how you managed to keep on going.
Because I'm tired of not being able to talk about where I used to live because it makes others uncomfortable, and I'm tired of giving everything to be a part of this culture, when I miss my other one so bad.
*not his real name