I have recently met a girl through work who is from the same country as me. I don’t generally hang out with or seek the company of my countrymen; there is something about the language, the culture and the people that I have not liked for years, and possibly because of this I have grown to be an open-minded citizen of the world.
I wasn’t going to speak with the girl, but we started chatting about work and then quickly the skype messages became deeper and more personal, and now months later I can count her as a friend, not just an acquaintance.
It feels strange to speak my mother tongue (English has become the lingua franca for me, and I have almost lost all my other language skills) and the more personal the chats became, the more awkward it started to feel to talk about everything in my own language.
I have been talking about the abuse and my childhood in English for years, but to even mention my family or the difficult relationships we have with each other just has so much more meaning when told in the language that dominated my life when things were still going on for me.
I haven’t told her about the abuse as such yet, and I’m not completely sure I ever will, but I have told a lot about my family. It makes things become real, like I am reliving my childhood, when I re-tell them to her. She is understanding, and thus far she has showed a lot of empathy, and it feels very real to me.
I suspect it is going to be very difficult for me to ever meet with her and should I ever really go into the deep deep stuff, I probably will have a really hard time, but I look forward to possibly going there within this friendship.
I wonder if it is the same for other people; if the abuse, trauma or hardships take place in their home country and things are said in their mother tongue, talking about it all in English is quite not enough; instead, things need to be broken down in the native language for the feelings to be truly felt?