Adult Third Culture Kid Siblings : Has anyone else been watching the popular U.S. series “This is Us”? I watched Episode “Number 3” recently and felt so much connection to the feelings of [unresolved] grief and feelings of love and loss that the characters in the story acted out so authentically. The part where “Number 3,” otherwise known as “Randall” in the series, describes life as a game of pac man with chasing things and sometimes having old ghosts show up in different ways resonates so much with my personal TCK stories of (re)entry and moving from country to country. Randall said, “Decade after decade just eating those circles, I mean, trying different routes, trying his best to avoid all those ghosts.” Those “ghosts,” in whatever form for me, produce triggers of emotions and grief that I am running away from processing in and through my TCK identity.
Whereas Randall’s wife, Beth, says that his analogy is “bleak,” he says it’s “beautiful” and goes on to show how acknowledging, facing, and leaning into those “ghost” forms helps us to process current feelings and to understand the root of loss, pain, and unresolved grief. Every time I watch an episode of this show, it is so clear to me that unresolved grief in adulthood is complex and can appear in different ways.
One final line in the episode tonight stung and sprung instant salty tears streaming down my face. Randall’s adopted Dad, “Jack,” was narrating the final scene which showed various unresolved grief the siblings [Number 1, 2, and 3] were facing. He said, “And when one of you falls down … the other one’s standing up.” It hit home. I thought of my relationship with my own brother. How when I have fallen down, especially in my various moves back to the U.S., he has stood up in support (financially, emotionally, wisely). And when he’s fallen down, I stand up for him. We may not understand why one another has fallen down, and it may take a few more episodes in our own series to get to that clarity, but we will be there for one another through it all.
We haven’t been together in place for over a year now. But we’ve connected in emotional spaces to lean into the process of continuing to heal grief, feelings of loss, and helping one another to stand up taller than before. I love you, brother. I’m standing for you right now.