I know I’m lucky. I know I’ve had a very privileged life, full of wonderful experiences. In fact, I sometimes describe myself as a collector of experiences, like others collect precious gems. But I have collected one experience along the way that weighs heavy; hidden loss. Perhaps you recognise this one too.
I am a Third Culture Kid. And with every move I made, I gained… and lost.
I lost languages.
I lost friends.
I lost the ability to trust in continuity of affection and relationship – I came to believe that relationships wouldn’t last.
I lost homes.
I lost intimacy with my extended family.
I lost educational opportunities.
It can be hard to acknowledge this loss. It can simply feel a lot like whining. A phrase I hear a lot in my TCK clients is, “I struggle so much, but after all, I am fortunate – I know”. Awareness of our own privilege can easily block our ability to acknowledge the presence and significance of loss in our lives.
Another block to acknowledging the losses we have sustained is the feeling that doing so will blame the people or institutions (or God) that were behind the decisions that kept us moving, kept us from staying. Acknowledging our pain might feel tied up with needing to know where to assign responsibility for it.
And so the pain lurks on, in the back of our minds, in the dark and lonely corners of our hearts. Unnamed, unwelcome, unacknowledged.
Why name loss ? Why acknowledge it?
Because our loss makes its effects felt even while we try to dismiss it. When we try and catch the rising tears, unbidden and frightening in their ferocity – there is loss. Another relationship comes and goes, reminding us that people always leave – there is loss. Feelings of hesitancy to enjoy even a few moments of peace and contentment, because we cannot trust this feeling to last – there is loss.
Naming our losses, does not need to detract from our gains. Acknowledging the pain of the hike doesn’t need to sour the beauty of the views. No either or, just a fuller picture. A more real picture, one with shadows as well as highlights. A story with depth, grounded in our actual experiences, rather than in the ones we feel we were supposed to have.
No blame pain
I believe the notion of “no blame pain” can be a very useful one here. While understanding and acknowledging the impact other people’s decisions on our lives is important, we can lay that down for a moment if its getting in the way of noticing our own pain. There are many times when we have felt losses at the hands of those we love, and this complicates our ability to acknowledge that hurt has even occurred. It may well be that blame for certain losses is entirely appropriate, laying responsibility at the doors of those inflicting pain is an important part of many healing journeys.
But sometimes, the burden of this is enough to stop us even acknowledging our pain, for fear that doing so will require us to have to ‘do something’ with it. “No blame pain” says, it is simply there. Let’s just acknowledge that it is there for now; I feel loss and pain. I lost things/people/places and it hurts.
What are your hidden losses?
Do you feel lurking, hidden, unacknowledged loss?
What impact is this unspoken loss having on your life?
Can you coax your pain our of the shadows, to be seen… perhaps even comforted?
Get in touch if you would like support in doing this – sharing a story of loss is a powerful experience, and it would be an honour to walk with you as you seek to bring depth to your story – the shadows and the light.