When people immigrate to other countries, most often they feel homesick and long for the countries they left behind. They remain wedded to past memories and to the families and places where they grew up. They remember all the details of their life back home and the longer they are absent from home the stronger these feelings torture them.
This psychological anguish makes it difficult for an immigrant to appreciate the good things in his new surroundings. They all look ugly to him. He considers every opportunity for studying or working as a conspiracy to set him up. These negative feelings might drive him to hate himself and the reality around him and sometimes he might despise everything in his new life. Some toy with the idea of returning home.
This is especially true in the case of women who undergo all these pains of separation more acutely than men. The masculine culture helps men to keep their emotions to themselves unlike women. And women, we should remember, are more emotional than men, which makes them subject to more depression, tension and emotional stress. Men are usually more adaptive to their surroundings and they could overcome their negative emotions.
Women by nature, and due to cultural mores, feel responsible for many issues that add to the stress and psychological torment they undergo. Woman looks after the household, her children and husband in addition to other obligations like work and school.
She must also take care of herself so that she doesn't end up losing her mental equilibrium. Men, even if they offer to share the burden of household responsibilities, don't take things too seriously. This might be due to the fact that a man doesn't feel fully responsible about these things and that he's doing certain things only as a favor to his wife. It only increases the woman's stress so she becomes very picky. Others might believe that she's a wonderful wife and a great mother when she's the only one underestimating herself and living in depression running after perfection, which is something no human being can achieve.
Therefore, a woman suffers immensely if she lives long years away from home. This torture includes certain realistic facts and others that are imaginary. But everything creates real psychological pain that affects not only the woman but her entire family.
The problem however is that all immigrants believe that the minute they return home their troubles will magically vanish and everything will be back to normal and they would be able to enjoy the absolute happiness they longed for.
Such notions encourage them to return home and in most cases they plan to return without proper or accurate planning. And during this emotionally charged period of time, they don't pay much attention to details because their minds are occupied with positive ideas and thinking. So they tend to avoid discussing issues such as selling their furniture, car or completing their business or official papers. Perhaps they might avoid some of the important issues because they don't want anything to affect their peace of mind and joy of going back home.
When they achieve what they wanted and return to their country after long years of absence, and after they meet their beloved ones and relatives, things begin to change. For a time they may think returning home had actually helped them overcome their problems, but gradually things worsen and problems surface creating new challenges.
Spending long years in a foreign country changes a person's emotions or appearance; it also influences one's thinking and logic.
Being exposed to different cultures and blending with other people makes one think clearly and more logically. Any actions or attitudes they used to accept in the past, they no longer do after being introduced to foreign cultures.
Cultural changes create a gap in the lives of people who've lived long periods away from home. They come back and realize that many of the traditions and customs they once knew and forgotten are still alive and they have to deal with them. That itself creates more stress and pressure and it varies according to a person's character. In addition, there will be new family commitments and the need to always satisfy lots of individuals.
Some might go through a culture shock once they're back home. They suffer anxiety and feelings (of surprise, disorientation, confusion, etc.) trying to adapt again to their original cultural or social environment.
Family members must meet the needs and psychological demands of a person who has returned home after a very long period of absence. Going through these mixed feelings and emotions requires people to provide support and understanding and not to add to their pressures and stresses. Sometimes even the family members fail to meet the returnee's psychological needs. I believe that one should be able to manage all these by allowing himself some space and time to adjust to the new surroundings.
What's more important is to know how to invest one's experience and knowledge as an immigrant to overcome his or her disturbed emotional status. One may satisfy other's needs but this should not be the expense of his mental and emotional stability.
Dr. Maha Al-Hujailan is a medical researcher at King Khaled University Hospital in Riyadh. [email protected]
1. Hay, the American Immigrant ! Don't think of going back ever. There is hell back home ?
2. Go to a psycho school before thinking of home ??
You got me totally lost Dr. Maha !
to how one feels when returning home after living
in foreign country like I have with millions in my situation.