Adventure, Aspects of Self, Disassociation, Empowerment, Identity, Isolation, Loneliness, Loss, New Zealand, Pain, Perspective, Repatriation, Separateness, Stories, Strength, Suffering, Third-Culture Kid, Transformation, United States, Unity, Victimness, Wholeness
I don’t remember the moment I stepped off of the plane on U.S. soil when we moved back to the U.S. I don’t even remember everything that we did in the first few months. But I still vividly remember how I felt…utterly and completely lost and alone. I’ve since described it in these words: Somewhere over the Atlantic my old self vanished and a new, unknown person appeared…with 18 years of memories no one around me experienced.
I have always thought of this transition period in my life from the perspective of a victim. I didn’t want to move “back” to the U.S. because it wasn’t home to me and I didn’t like the culture and didn’t know how to relate to anyone in my “home” culture. I was forced to move “back” because my parents moved us. I was forced to leave everyone and everything I loved for the sake of being where my passport told me I belonged. And, I never knew if I would ever be able to go back.
Learning to live in the American culture was rough. I don’t think I know how to describe the pain I experienced. Thankfully, I remember very little of my first three years here…mostly I was just trying to survive and figure out the basics of living and being in a “foreign” country. I do know the pain from this was overwhelming because even 20 years later my heart has tender spots from the few memories I do have.
I don’t like having these perceptions…this victim story around my past, even if some of it is warranted. To me, holding onto those stories takes away my power to live and embrace life. The challenge, however, is finding a substantial enough story to replace the victim ones.
And today I was blessed with one.
Today, as I watched House Hunters International, I heard a woman say this, “I knew who Grace was in New York City, but I didn’t know who Grace was in New Zealand.”
What astonished me most about this statement is that she didn’t disassociate the New York City Grace from the New Zealand Grace…she simply discovered new aspects and perspectives of Grace as her environment changed…which resulted in a deeper understanding of her bigger Self, empowering her even more.
Once again, the old favorite story of either/or isn’t true…the true story is and.
And so it is.
- What’s it like to “come out” as a Third Culture Kid on stage? Elizabeth Liang tells all! (thedisplacednation.com)
- Why is Everyone Hugging the Giant Chipmunk? (communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com)