Imagine my son heads to university and is suddenly struck with disabling home sickness.
I’ve had home sickness before It felt like grief – a sort of weird pain in my heart. Suffocating. I got over it by disconnecting. Literally severing emotional ties with home.
There has to be a better way to deal with some pain than emotional disconnection.
One thing I can think of is reassurance.
The grief upon the pain of separation from another person can feel like home sickness. By grief I mean the experience of something not being as you “think” it should be. An inability to accept a situation. Or effectively emotional dissonance (between the way things are and the way you want them to be).
So, I could help my son if he was experiencing home sickness by providing reassurance.
One way to get reassurance is to come home … we’ve all experienced that feeling of being home for 5 minutes and then wanting to leave. “Ok good I remember this, now I’m off!”
If you can’t actually get home another option is that he asks me for verbal or written reassurance whenever he needs it.
A problem with asking for reassurance is it can make you feel weak. It can make you feel like you are annoying. It can make you feel like the other person would say oh fuck off and get over it! (Or did that just say a lot more about me than I meant it to?!)
Perhaps I could tell my son all he has to do whenever he wants reassurance is to send me a “sticker” (emoticon/smart phone picture thing). The sticker hits my phone and I know he needs a boost.
It might be that loads of stickers come in when he first gets to university and feels lonely. Then they would taper off as requests. It might be that they come at unexpected times, maybe low-points in his emotional experiences.
The replies I would send would be written reassurance based. Which means I have to switch on my three stage empathy set.
So sticker comes in and I reply something like: “I am here, everything is fine. The people next door are having an argument, can you believe it! And I love you very much.”
To be really good, reassurance has to find a balance between statement and rote. Rote reassurance can feel fake and be rendered useless. The brain is a complicated animal.
A problem with the sticker technique is that it can become a crutch. This means that the person sending out the stickers needs to take some responsibility for the situation – and not just fire them out at times when they aren’t really necessary. Possibly the stickers should be limited in number to thereby give them Intrinsic value.
The more alarming side effect of the sticker project would be when they are used as a form of control. Because ultimatly i would be jumping at his sticky requests on the assumption that my subservience was absolutely necessary. No one likes to be a fool so if I even smelled a rat that he was just using them as a weapon (even subconsiously) I would be hopping mad.
Ultimately, the goal of any temporary reassurance project would be to retrain the brain into a situation of a more steady state. So as not to raise a emotional sickness (home of or otherwise) and then it require disconnection to deal with.
Let the project begin.