Mangoes and other things
I wasn't going to get actively involved in this community but I think I would like to introduce myself after all..
We currently live in Australia (it's been 4 yrs), my mother could be described as a global nomad, my father lives in Germany, my brothers were born in South America where they spent the first few years of life.
I experienced culture shock during the first two years, and depression during the third year. When I mention this people argue that essentially, Australian culture is not so different from my 'home' culture and so they wonder what could have "shocked" me so badly... Thing is, I lived with my Persian family for the first two years and barely came in touch with white Australian kids. So yes- it was a very different set of unwritten rules and norms. I also remember the intense struggles with identity and defining "home" that plagued me during adolescence. When we got our approval for citizenship I broke down and cried for hours because I was so frustrated with the situation. I don't FEEL Australian! I don't feel German, or Persian or Bolivian. But I have a sort of connection to all of these. Why am I forced to confine myself to one country and identify it as my "home"? The ceremony was ridiculous. All of this nationalist, patriarchal bullshit. Meanwhile family and friends would pat me on the back and "congratulate" me on this.
I felt lost. I wish passports could have a label that says "world citizen" rather than Australian/ German.
I discovered the term "Third Culture Kids/ Adults" late last year and it was incredibly liberating to finally have some sort of language to express what you're going through. To have a community to identify with and get support from. It's plain comforting and I thank my two TCK friends for sharing this with me and I will make an effort to pass it on to others.
Anyway. Initially I didn't pay too much attention to TCK stuff- I read some people's accounts of when they first discovered the TC theories and they are filled with emotion, sometimes even cry for weeks. I only shed a few tears. Maybe my reaction time to such things is generally slow. The point of the story is I thought I had processed all of this, the past, the patterns, etc. long ago. But recently it's all been coming back to me and I feel like I am re-experiencing painful past experiences even in my dreams. A friend told me I should seek support from someone and so I pushed myself to go see the psych at uni about it. Luckily they are trained in international and cross-cultural studies and have heard of TCK etc. So I am not talking to a wall for once!
I am afraid of falling into the trap of Nostalgia, but it feels like I need to re-process this stuff- especially now that I have more knowledge, more resources to help me.
It's only been a week and I've already decoded important information from my experiences- about patterns, attitudes etc, and how certain events have shaped my every-day functioning in ways that I never really acknowledged or realized. I have intimacy, attachment and commitment issues, a hideous concept of weakness that prevents me from engaging in any great extend of self-disclosure..I return to my passport country once a year and it's always an out-of-body experience, because I am forced to fall back into the child I was when I left (since my vocabulary is up to a certain level, and family remembers me that way). I can't share one world with the other. I've tried once, by taking an Australian friend back to Germany with me, but that just ended in an awkward situation where he couldn't recognize who I was slipping into half the time. The third space stuff is interesting...I think I learned how to deal with it now
My friend recently asked me to tell him "the story". But how do you even begin to dissomething so scattered? It wouldn't make sense to him. It doesn't. My attempts have usually been met with frowns and confusion.- and frankly, I am too attached to the fresh, aging pain that is tied with these memories. "It is totally out of his experience". But this fact is upsetting. Dislocating. I wish I could share this in a way that they'd understand.
Thanks for reading. I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about
All the best!