I wasn’t prepared for all the drama, crying (mostly mine, a little of my six-month-old Zoe’s), clinginess (more me than Zoe) and sleepless nights when the idea for this article came to me at the beginning of the week. A couple of weeks ago, I started a ritual of sharing my thoughts for what I wanted to write about with my friends and family. I do a minute long video to invite everyone to share their views.
This one about leaving, well it is a touchy subject for anyone who’s ever left their homeland, friends, relationships or maybe even jobs. I thought I could tackle it with tact, but this past week showed me that I wasn’t ready to unpack all my emotional baggage. I lifted up some unfelt emotions from the bottom of the basement of my mind – the subconscious – brought them to daylight where I could see them, caressed them with my heart and neatly folded them so that I could reach for these healing lessons when their warmth would be needed.
Imagine being uprooted from your hometown, friends, family – in short all of your support network – as a child of ten years of age. You’re at the threshold of the turmoil of your teenage years, have formed some solid friendships, identified your interests, your people and then all of a sudden you are whisked away to a whole new place. It’s tough enough moving to a different school within the same suburb, but what if you moved from Turkey to the U.S.?
I didn’t realise it at the time, but it’s taken its toll on my personal development. When you move to a new country, it’s hard enough to adapt but try to make yourself home with a family who despises and distrusts the culture of the new homeland. So there we were transplants in a new country with a dad resistant to the very idea that the U.S. was built on – capitalism and a mum who had an unreasonable fear for our safety stemming from watching too much TV.
“Go out at night? What, you want to be raped?” would’ve been her usual reaction before my brother pushed the boundaries of getting and staying out of the house.
So why did we move?
I asked dad this question recently and he said it was so that my brother and I could have access to a good education.
I look around my family who remained in Turkey and they don’t seem any less educated than myself or my brother. In a case of “grass is greener” I see that they’ve maintained a close network of friends and family who seem readily available to them when they need to talk (in the same time zone).
Of course, the grass is greener.
I found out that family isn’t always the best bet for ensuring you’re listened to, heard and understood. Or this could simply be that none in my family experienced the pain of getting pulled out of what was a nourishing environment into uncharted territory inhabited by people whose culture and motivations seem purely materialistic.
An Experiment – Cyber Family
After returning from Istanbul, I felt the withdrawal from the warm cocoon of a large family network. Fortunately, my mum’s side of the family had set up a WhatsApp group and they’d included me in there. The idea was to keep in touch, share our concerns and get support – so I thought.
“Support, love, being there for each other no matter what, listening and hearing each other, blah, blah, blah…” was the response when I posed the question what home or family means to the group.
That exchange gave me encouragement and I foolishly I appointed myself the community manager. Ha! What a huge mistake. Particularly since I’d been away from them on and off for 20 years. To put it in perspective, even when I lived in Istanbul I didn’t see very much of them. I resided on the European side near my paternal grandmother who didn’t mix with mum’s people.
However, since they seemed so friendly and expressed what I perceived as genuine affection I felt the need to close the gap by – OVERSHARING on the WhatsApp group. Oh my God, I am an absolute idiot with no netiquette, right?
I thought the reason we didn’t see very much of each other was my own prejudices of them and for the most part, blamed myself. It only recently began occurring to me that perhaps mum and dad had moved away from Istanbul because they didn’t feel the genuine love and support of their family. It’s hard to imagine people who feel a true bond with their family moving so far away.
I certainly couldn’t have moved to Australia if I had strong relationships with my own mum and dad.
So here I was, oversharing on WhatsApp, inviting my “family” to understand the culture I’m now in, my day to day life and what my creative outlet, writing, brings to my life.
It wasn’t long before they got sick of me. I’d overstayed my welcome. The question was, should I leave the WhatsApp group? I certainly felt they wanted me to.
But…I chose to stay and keep sharing and not to fall into the trap of overdoing it.
You see, I always left people, countries and jobs for the wrong reason. I expect too much from the outer world. I project my own issues to the country, job and the people instead of seeking inner peace and healing.
I talk about meditating and my inner garden all the time! I should just shut up and practice what I preach.
Here’s what Gandhi had to say about it:
“Don’t talk about it. The rose doesn’t have to propagate its perfume. It just gives it forth, and people are drawn to it. Live it, and people will come to see the source of your power.”
And in my sin is my salvation. The WhatsApp group is my chance to break the pattern. Continue to share and contribute, but don’t over-do it. Certainly a challenge to a Maydanoz like me.
Practicing Energy-Save Mode
Our attention is the most valuable thing we have these days.
If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re clothed, sheltered, fed and may be in search of self-actualisation.
Don’t waste your attention on leaving relationships and flittering around aimlessly on social media for the next thing. Deepen your relationships with those you already know (even if your family can’t stand you or vice versa). This ensures you’re saving energy.
On a related note, now our planet needs us. You see, she’s dying. If we slow ourselves down, we might find that we don’t need to buy things to feel fulfilled. Instead, we may start using our attention in coming up with ways to reduce the waste (like compost bins to create fertiliser) and plant herbs, shrubs and trees.
This requires one to STAY PRESENT. Do not leave people, countries or jobs so readily. That’s a waste of energy.
I decided that my roots are planted here in Lane Cove and I will not be uprooting my girls unless this part of the world becomes inhabitable if we keep destroying natural resources.
Over to you…
What are some of the things you’ve left in the past and did you find that if you had generated more love in your heart for yourself you could’ve stayed and found fulfillment?