TCK Good-byes

on , , , , , ,

No comments

Through several discussions with friends and family I've come to discover another way in which the TCK profile has surfaced yet again in the way I deal with life, or more to the point in the way I deal with change. Change is one of the few constants in a TCK's life, and my experience was no different. My geographical location has changed about 12 times in 28 years. Our proximity to my extended family has changed from being across an ocean from them to being just down the street. I have attended 13 schools, and changed church 'membership' 11 times (not to mention the countless churches I have visited through the years). I made many friends and lost most of them again along the way. Losing my Austrian friends at the age of 10 stripped me of a huge support system, making me feel extremely vulnerable and alone in my new Canadian neighborhood.

Losing one group of friends after another in each successive move was heart-wrenching (except for the rare case in which my 'friends' turned out not to be real friends after all and kind of dropped me when they found someone 'cooler' to hang out with...). So how on earth does a vulnerable child with struggling self-confidence deal with repeated losses such as these?

You learn to let go, and let go ASAP.

I was just telling my cousin last night that every time I had to say good-bye to my friends, my house, my school, church, and neighborhood I felt like they immediately became shadows of my past: Old and passing worlds that were preserved like time capsules in my mind. That's still all they are to me now... slowly fading shadows of both happy and difficult memories. And the only world I've ever really wanted to return to was Austria... that place somehow managed to stamp its permanence onto my heart forever.

What about people? If past worlds become shadows do passing friendships become as ghosts? Well... pretty much. That is, unless some small seed of loyalty compels them to do the work required to maintain a friendship despite geographical distance. Even in the age of the internet most people do not walk down that road with me.

As I mentioned in a previous post, friendships mean the world to me. Having lost so many I know just how valuable they are and so I develop a deep, unwavering loyalty to them. And when the time comes (as it so often does) that we must say good-bye I've learned to grieve as deeply and quickly as possible, release the friendship to join the other shadows of my past, and move on. Given the number of good-byes in a typical TCK's life it's only natural that one would want to move on quickly and efficiently.

What benefits has this survival technique given to many TCKs? We can adapt to change in a flash. Personally, I know how to appreciate the people who are in my life at the moment, and I know how to move on when they're gone. I make the most of my friendships when they're around, and I also know how to thrive when I'm alone. I'm glad when people are in my life, but I'm also not surprised when they disappear. That said, I also never forget the faces of those who showed kindness and loyalty to me while they were in my life, and they remain in my heart forever.

On a whole, these TCK good-byes affect my views of the past, present, and future. I've found myself chasing my past... my childhood in Austria, wanting to return to that place that was so fun, safe, and care-free. I find myself living in the moment, appreciating the people, the places, and all the little things that may never cross my path again. And when I think of the future I see the whole world open to me, I see countless faces yet to meet and countless places yet to live. And with simultaneous grief and excitement I know there will yet be countless good-byes.