Reality & Trust, Chapter 1 | ‘Homesickness’

Today I’m going to continue some ongoing work to edit and collate the book, Reality & Trust, so as to be able to ready it for a proper release soon. Looking at February. (Here’s a link.

Maybe you were curious what the impetus for this book was? If you read Kismuth and are interested, I can share a few things that have led up to the decision to publish my stories in a new e-anthology. You can ask me about that. But please note that I’m only really talking to people who are members of my e-community, these days, at Kismuth, which includes the online projects outlined here.

I’ve had to filter a lot; something that happens when you… [deleted] and continuously meet new people. You know, I don’t have fb or really many other social media accounts and I only talk to three people now on Zoom and three on a service that’s popular in Vietnam that’s called Zalo. It’s nice because Facebook doesn’t own it. Cool, right? They can’t read my messages, and tell me what they think I should buy. I detest FB. So yeah. Why so few channels and contacts? Well! I’d rather have 2 or 6 contacts I know I can count on than 4,253 or even millions like the celebrities I’ve read about who off themselves because they’re so lonely…. [deleted] wherever I go in the world. I wrote a little about that in this week’s issue of S P A C E, ‘Sneeze.’ Check it out here.


Gosh. There is so much to say. I feel like R&T is a big wave that’s come ashore after several small waves. Namely, the books I’ve already written. They feel like a miniature collection, articulating themes that somehow have prepared me, mentally, for this one. The topic is so universally relevant, now, too. I’m even thinking about reopening and re-starting my old Kindle account, for this book. I hate Amazon.

But I did manage to sell things there. Of course I resented being classified as they chose to classify me, irritating because of many reasons. Still, R&T is asking important questions in this internet and erstwhile bizarre-in-other-ways era.

How do you know what’s real, and what isn’t? Who can you trust, like really trust, and what are the factors that build trust (or break it?)

When you grow up in a household that doesn’t value emotional needs or, worse, has deeply damaged your capacity to develop healthy and warm relationships (and so many of us know what this is like to grow up with, I’m finding!), how do you find your way in the middle of uncertainty and other hard situations that life throws at you?

I’m not sure.

No one can be.

We all have to find our way, after all.

But I want to write this to share my own journey. Coping, here, where I am. In ten months’ and counting, with no end in sight. Homesick, a lot of that, lately, and retreating more than usual because it’s… [deleted].

But there were books that help me understand hard situations, before. For example, these.

In The Dive, I wrote about my choice to end a much-wanted pregnancy, due to a diagnosis that came out at 20 weeks. I mean, looking back, it was one of those moments where you had to simply exist with the difficulty of the very fact of it. Much like currently: in the pandemic I’m in a place that is far from the many homes I know (southwest Ireland, northern India, a mid-size town somewhere cool in Japan, and of course Phnom Penh which is where my nearest and dearest are. I guess there’s also North Carolina, in an estranged, distant way, something I’ve been coming to terms with where I am: Vietnam.) Do I have a home here?

[deleted] I’m lucky, that way.

In Kanishka, I talked about the loss of my childhood best friend. The name of the book is the name of the plane that a terrorist group had placed a bomb on, way back in 1985. Without the gentle nurturing of a battered reality that can come in that moment, when you have people taking care of you who know that this is important, I had to write my way out out of the confusion. The book I published, Kanishka, ran as a serial for a magazine in Northern India, and also, helped me come to understand that misunderstood realities and lack of dialogue led to Operation Blue Star which many people wrote had precipitated the retaliatory attack. Who knows what really happened; people in India I had interviewed and wanted to stay off record gave me other angles, other considerations. All of that is factored in to the writing of the book, of course, and I’m at peace with the things that I uncovered.

Writing my way out of the difficult moment of finding myself fighting, as a newlywed, in southwest Ireland, but also, discovering the enchantment of a culture in which people love to talk, tell stories, and share in selective ways (pubs, unlike in Scandinavia, the pubs are a place for people to engage meaningfully, culturally, casually… In Denmark and Finland and Sweden I found there were more like, bars, and stuff, in which people just get hammered and throw up all over the place on Fridays and Saturdays instead of just culturally hang out and talk, a little bit at a time, over time). So yeah. Ireland helped me understand the value I place now so dearly on ‘conversation’ and ‘The Third Space.’

Where can you talk about things if you don’t have a place that feels comfortable, and safe, and nonjudgmental, and that you know you can go back to, whenever you need to talk?

Harder and harder to find this, in real life now, in 2021. I’d written The Elopement based off of experiences pre-internet, really, around 2001-2. So yeah.




Here’s what I’m learning about Homesickness today…

Source: Wikipedia

Risk factors

The risk factors for homesickness fall into five categories: experience, personality, family, attitude and environment.[2]More is known about some of these factors in adults—especially personality factors—because more homesickness research has been performed with older populations.[19] However, a growing body of research is elucidating the etiology of homesickness in younger populations, including children at summer camp,[3][4] hospitalized children[18]and students.[9]

  • Experience factors: Younger age; little previous experience away from home (for which age can be a proxy); little or no previous experience in the novel environment; little or no previous experience venturing out without primary caregivers.
  • Attitude factors: The belief that homesickness will be strong; negative first impressions and low expectations for the new environment; perceived absence of social support; high perceived demands (e.g., on academic, vocational or sports performance); great perceived distance from home
  • Personality factors: Insecure attachment relationship with primary caregivers; low perceived control over the timing and nature of the separation from home; anxious or depressed feelings in the months prior to the separation; low self-directedness; high harm avoidance; rigidity; a wishful-thinking coping style.
  • Family factors: decision control (e.g., caregivers forcing young children to spend time away from home against their wishes);

Protective factors

Factors which mitigate the prevalence or intensity of homesickness are essentially the inverse of the risk factors cited above. Effective coping (reviewed in the following section) also diminishes the intensity of homesickness over time. Prior to a separation, however, key protective factors can be identified. Positive adjustment to separation from home is generally associated with the following factors:[citation needed]

  • Experience factors: Older age; substantial previous experience away from home (for which age can be a proxy); previous experience in the novel environment; previous experience venturing out without primary caregivers.
  • Attitude factors: The belief that homesickness will be mild; positive first impressions and high expectations for the new environment; perceptions of social support; low perceived demands (e.g., on academic or vocational performance); short perceived distance from home
  • Personality factors: Secure attachment relationship with primary caregivers; high perceived control over the timing and nature of the separation from home; good mental health in the months prior to the separation; high self-directedness; adventure-seeking; flexibility; an instrumental coping style.
  • Family factors: High decision control (e.g., caregivers including a young person in the decision to spend time away from home); individuals making their own choice about military service; supportive caregiving; caregivers who express confidence and optimism about the separation (e.g., “Have a great time away. I know you’ll do great.”)
  • Environmental factors: Low cultural contrast (e.g., same language, similar customs, familiar food in the new environment); physical and emotional safety; few changes to familiar daily schedule; plenty of information about the new place prior to relocation; feeling welcome and accepted in the new place.