Right now it’s challenging for me to talk through hurt with one of my siblings. My brain wants to resort to name-calling and other angry-time speech options. We didn't develop conflict resolution skills between us in childhood, so now we're learning them as adults. We have a lot of unexpressed pain in my family. This pain is typically expressed through angry outbursts and/or withdrawal from communication. I want to be in a place where we allow ourselves to feel anger, directly express and discuss it in a healthy way, and fluidly continue with other topics. My sibling and I relate to each other around anger and hurt. We didn't talk much until the family moved overseas and our parents divorced. There was so much going on outside of our relationship’s world that we didn't focus much on our bond's needs. As a result, we related and yet did not relate. We talked about the chaos and related around the anger and hurt that surrounded us. Now, we want to talk with each other and neither one of us does it well. There isn't any chaos around which to relate. So, we either continue to create arguments so we can relate to that kind of pain, or we choose to build a new framework within which to relate. This one’s a lot of effort because some of the anger-argument creation is not completely conscious. It’s automatic sometimes.
I came across an interesting dissertation on culture and how it affects emotion expression, Cultural Orientation and Parent Emotion in the Chinese American Immigrant Family: Concurrent and Prospective Relations by Stephen Hanen Chen, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1n43s5tf. [Total disclosure: I skimmed parts of it and read other sections in depth. I imagine it’s a document I’ll read here and there at various times over time. I didn’t know that there’s a whole section of psychological research that focuses on immigrant family experiences and emotion expression. That wowed me. I wonder if there’s a section of psychology that focuses on bicultural individuals’ experiences of culture.] The author brings up some interesting points that I hadn’t considered. He writes,
“It is an active process that transforms the biological being into a social individual …with a set of context-contingent identities” (Markus & Hamedani, 2007, p. 5). Applied to the present study of immigrant parents, this conceptualization of culture and psychology suggests that individuals exposed to a new culture both shape, and are shaped by their patterns of engagement with their host and heritage cultures. Engagement in external cultural domains – e.g., the languages they acquire or maintain, or the social circles in which they engage - may shape the construction and expression of their internal, biologically-based processes.”