Happy Birthday today to Mr O! As it is mid-week and we are both working our butts off, we aren’t doing anything today other than cards and cake. We did enjoy a quiet birthday drink and Miss O 1 baked a magnificent chocolate cake which we had as Mr O’s birthday cake.
The cake is part of Miss O 1′s Year 12 homework she was required to complete over the holidays. Miss O 1 sourced the recipe here: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/21815/a+really+good+chocolate+cake.
Once upon a time I wrote about shaving bumps and the distress they caused Mr O. I never got around to the follow up, did I? Here is Mr O shaving the Nigerian way. Which was actually the Black American way before the method wandered over to Nigeria.
Looks just like shaving cream from where you are sitting, huh? No, Mr O is actually shaving as he stands there.
How is this possible you ask? Shhhhh – there is a surprise at the end…..
I think Mr O is suffering survivor’s guilt. I must stress, I am not a psychologist. I am a wife. Mr O’s wife. While this is intensely personal, we are sharing it to help others understand the life of a refugee. Maybe help other refugees, feeling alone and sad, why they may be feeling that way. Yes, Mr O arrived in Australia, the second time, on a partner visa. The first time he arrived on a false passport as an asylum seeker. Just because we got married does not stop Mr O being a refugee. All it means is he has a partner visa rather than a protection visa. Reality isn’t changed by the type of visa.
We were talking this evening and I could see the the emotional pain he was suffering. We talked about the possibility he is suffering survivor’s guilt as I have read quite a bit about it over the years. I explained survivor’s guilt to him in terms of a plane crash. Four hundred people are killed in the crash and the fifty who survive feel guilty for surviving. Sadly, even if this label is correct, it doesn’t help him deal with it any more easily than if there were no label. It is what it is.
I turned to my old friend Google and searched “survivor guilt refugees”. Sure enough the results scrolled up on the screen – lots of results, over 22 million results. Clearly survivor’s guilt is a recognised problem for many refugees.
One result in particular caught my eye.
Survivor’s guilt has been identified as a problem common to many refugees that negatively impacts a healthy psychosocial adjustment (Brown, 1982; Lin et al., 1982; Tobin and Friedman, 1983). Successfully fleeing from dangerous conditions, many refugees left behind family members and friends who did not or could not escape. After reaching safety, refugees reported being haunted by feelings of guilt, especially knowing the danger still facing those who were left behind. The awareness that people who remained at home are alive, possibly suffering, and living in unpleasant conditions may heighten survivor’s guilt and contribute to emotional stress. … Survivor’s guilt can continue in a spiral of pain, sadness and guilt that causes barriers to enjoying the safety, success and sense of well-being in the resettlement country.
Counseling Refugees: A Psychosocial Approach to Innovative Multicultural Interventions
By Fred Bemak, Rita Chi-Ying Chung, Paul Pedersen
The book goes on to talk about the process of healing.
Wednesday night Mr O was updating his status on Facebook. Given my article of yesterday, I’ll ask readers to realise/remember Mr O was an asylum seeker when I met him. So read these words with that in mind. I do have his permission to publish his words here! If you are new here and want the history, links are in the sidebar. Or watch the video.
Always be myself and I will never pretend to be anyone. Things happen for a reason. If you are trying to avoid a mistake then how can you learn, how can you improve or survive or progress in life or in whatever? My effort is my weapon and I’m pretty sure it will get me beyond my expectation!!
Long term followers will remember reading Merging two cultures, an article I wrote back in January highlighting how language can be a difficult thing when we make assumptions about understanding each other!
Mr O has been plagued with “shaving bumps”, something he hates and which he vows and declares does not happen when using the shaving powder mentioned in the above article.
Unfortunately, it just isn’t available here in Australia. After trying just about every local option available (we have a cupboard full of lotions, shaving creams/soaps etc) with really no improvement, we researched. Research revealed this is a common problem for black men. It is the type of hair – it doesn’t take kindly to these multi-blade razors at all. USA web sites detailed this clearly and although Mr O knew he never used razors because his hair is different, neither of us had ever really delved into the specific science of it. It was a bit of a “duh” moment for us both, I think! After all, from Mr O’s perspective, his hair is the only hair he has ever had to deal with!
Because black men have body hairs that are predominantly curly and wiry, shaved hair follicles tend to curve back and re-enter the skin as they grow, causing irritation and razor bumps. Ingrown hairs can also occur when hair doesn’t fully emerge from the skin’s surface and instead sits coiled underneath, leading to bumps and possible infection.
One of the recommendations is not to shave every day, but in societies where the clean-shaven look is almost mandatory, this can be difficult. Mr O likes to shave every day as a personal preference irrespective of social norms. Read more
Last night Miss O 1 was cooking stir-fry for dinner. I wasn’t as late as I might have been, so we were all home.
I had checked my emails earlier in the day as I had received a phone call from DIAC last Thursday which gave me the impression we might hear something soon. There had been no email at that time and I hadn’t had time to check again.
Mr O commented, “I’ll just check my emails.”
Over the chatter of eating children there was suddenly lots of noise. Mr O leapt out of his chair and started dancing around the diningroom!
“We got it, we got it! I love you, my forever wife!”
Lots of hugs and kisses followed. We are not sure the children really understand the importance, but we do! Attached to the email was a copy of the formal letter, which we will receive in the snail-mail shortly.
Although I have mentioned before it is stressful waiting, I don’t think we realised just how stressful until that stress was gone. We did not expect there to be a problem with the final grant of permanent residency, but no matter how confident one is, until it is signed, sealed and delivered, there is always that nagging fear. It hangs there like a cloud, blocking the sunshine of life.
Regular followers will remember I wrote a little while ago about the mystery surrounding the move from sub-class 309 (the temporary resident visa) to the sub-class 100: the permanent visa.
Tonight I received an email from a member of our wonderful legal support team to advise:
I received letter dated 17/4/12 from the Department of Immigration’s Brisbane office inviting John to lodge the finalising documentation for the grant of PR to him and the children. The letter comes with the standard forms for each of you to complete, and check-lists.
The time has come!
At this point we have no idea what the forms are or what the check-lists actually list, but at least in a day or two I will. I am guessing we won’t receive the envelope until after Anzac Day. The mystery will be solved!
This great news wasn’t the only good thing to happen today! Mr O came home with a written offer of an adult apprenticeship! More reason for celebration! We knew this was coming from a conversation he had a week or so ago, but it is nice for him to have it formalised.
Finally the legal aspect of the journey comes to a close. The love aspect continues! It will be a great psychological relief to have the permanent visa finalised. While something is still temporary, there is always that shadow over your life, a nagging irritation. It will be over.
If you are a partner visa applicant or sponsor and have reached this page via a search engine, please check out the articles under the “Partner/Spouse Visa” menu above. There you find articles I hope may be of assistance to you.