Wednesday, 3 September 2008

How to deal with withdrawal syndromes after quitting Beijing

The comment on my last post by tmt from toomanytribbles inspires me to write about how to avoid withdrawal syndromes after quitting with Beijing.

It is on my mind every day: I have to contact my friends in Beijing.

I don't have many but some dear friends. And I really want to let them know that I care and that I am thinking of them. Everyday I feel more the urge. I want to write them an email and ask for suitable calling hours. I would also like my son to talk to his friends. BUT I am afraid that we will get withdrawal syndromes!

So I am waiting and waiting. I say to my self: lets just settle a bit more, one more week, after the holidays, and one more week...
It is now 2 months and 2 days that we have left Beijing. And I have not called a single friend.

I wrote them an email right away after having arrived. Letting them know that we are doing fine. And a reply to their replies. That was it. I want to keep the friendship going. Yes. And therefore I feel urged to send another sign, I was the one who left.

But I am afraid of hearing their voices. I will miss them so much more then I do now! And I am afraid that my son (5 years) will get even more muddled, that he want to fly back to meet his friends right away.

I remember, one morning my cellphone was ringing. And it was our driver. Hearing his voice, so close, so near, .... really, I had tears in my eyes. He just wanted to let me know that he had fixed something. And I told him that we are fine and that he should greet our ayi as well. Of course I have already sent him an email before (he is technically up to date). But email is not the same. It does not bring the same emotions.

So I am avoiding withdrawal syndromes after quitting Beijing by 'hiding' in my new life, by keeping quiet, by not looking back. And I am so NOT proud of it. I think every day of this situation and if I could do better. Maybe it really just takes some more time.

It is not the first time I have left a live behind. After living 5 years in Bangkok, it had become our common home - and it still feels very special to us. It took us years to get over the withdrawal syndromes of leaving Thailand. And we had a very special dear group of friends to leave behind. One after the other spread out to new destinations. Some of our friends we still contact or see from time to time. But it will never be the same.

Living in this situation I remember the term Third Culture Kids or TCK. There are many sociological studies about kids that have spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than its own. It is researched that while TCKs usually grow up to be independent and cosmopolitan, they also often struggle with their identity and with the losses they have suffered in each move. The sociologist who originally introduced the concept of TCKs is Ruth Hill Useem. She wrote many books about TCKs, the Global Nomads and later focused on the grown up TCKs, the Adult Third Culture Kids (ATCKs).

Books about the subject:

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