Not sure whether it was the full moon, but this past week there were lots of tears in my household. The majority of the tears were shed by my young daughters, who are becoming aware of their identities, forming expectations and expressing big emotions when life or I don’t deliver exactly what they want when they want it.

I also experienced that uncomfortable feeling of being out of touch with those around me. All of these experiences this past week with emotions, those of the negative kind, led me to peel the layers of my psychological construct. My psyche, like so many other people’s, is an onion. There is layer after layer of conditioning put on us by our parents and society. At the core of it, there’s space that’s still, calm and divine. It takes hard work and lots and lots of tears in some cases, to get to that spaciousness.

In my example, the frustration was borne out of something as small as hatching eggs in the home to grow chickens. The group I found myself in seemed to have an idea of how this could be done and I was just so concerned about cats or wild animals eating the hatchlings. I kept pushing forth with this anxiety for the hatchlings and everyone else, including my brother, thought it was silly.

Why was my mind so fixed on something that others didn’t even see as a threat to the survival of chooks?

In a way, I was as unreasonable as my three-year-old’s concern that the plughole will suck her one-year-old sister down the drain.

When I stepped away and thought about it, I laughed at myself.

Growing up in our neighbourhood in Izmir, when I was about eight years old, I remembered that one of the other kids hatched chooks in their ground-level apartment flat. All the little chicks had managed to get out and I remember seeing those cuddly yellow balls running around on the pavement. There were ten to being with and every day there was one less. The street cats were snacking on them, I was informed. That must’ve been quite traumatic for me that I held onto this ridiculous belief that even in Australia, where there are very few street cats and better-informed people who won’t let the chooks out of the home, that they’ll be killed and eaten by stray cats.

Your Layers

James Gray Robinson, a spiritual and relationship expert defines the layers of the onion as the following:

Codependence: The biggest load of bull we’ve been fed in the western world is that there’s a soulmate out there who will make us whole and once we find this person we will live happily ever after. The truth is, you are the one you’ve been waiting for.

In my case, I’m blessed with a man who’s critical, analytic, practical, who deals with numbers and one who for the most part rejects his own creativity. So when he sees my stories and creative endeavours he hates them because let’s be honest, there’s no material evidence that I’m a great writer. But what I know and feel is that the written word is my magical power. When I get these words out to you, and see in my mind’s eye, you reading, my spirit is nourished and I’m more present in the world.

The truth is I don’t need him. I choose to be with him and he chooses me. This is refreshing and makes me feel alive.

My pitfall when it comes to codependence is this longing I have for a supportive mother who will see me as a writer and nourish my gift. I project the role of the mother to pretty much anyone who takes the time to read my writing. Over the years, I’ve forced my Mum to read my writing even though her English isn’t good and I projected the role of Mother and all the burden that comes with it to my brother’s poor ex who has problems of her own to grapple with.

Victimhood: There’s always a reason to feel victimised, rejected and less-than. In my case for years, it’s been that my negligent parents didn’t notice and nurture my writing gift.

Whenever anger and resentment arise for my misspent youth, all I can do is remember that I am the one I’ve been waiting for and rescue myself by writing, what else? Writers write, right?

Negative emotions: Irritability and pettiness hijack me as they hijack just about anyone who compares themselves to others. I compare myself to Glennon Doyle often and start to think “Only if I had more aware parents…Only if I had a sister…Only if people around me supported me…”

Then I get pissed off at people because they’re laughing at me for thinking newly hatched chooks will be eaten by stray cats.

Oh, dear.

If this pettiness happens to me, a 40-year old woman who’s been practising mindfulness, I know you must also be struggling with viruses that attack the mind and override the creative drive which leads to a blissful and productive state.

Just as you must boost your immune system and get some rest when your body is taken over by a virus, you must also rest and boost your defences when your mind is hijacked. You can’t ignore the symptoms and try to carry on. You’ll only get sicker, less creative, less vital and eventually will become a royal pain in the arse that brings the dark clouds wherever you go.

Judgment: “You’re not creative! All your stories are about stuff that’s happened to you…” so the critic tells me and the temptation to judge him and tell him he’s not creative is there but where will that take me? It will only cause a pathetic fight where no one will be victorious. The creative energy will be killed on the battlefield.

“You’re right. I have to dig deeper and find truths that others can connect with and that’s what will make my story universal.”

So I thank him.

This is the inner critic I’m having a conversation with and he bows to me with grace and lets me go off and do my solo dance til we meet and tango again.

Never Stop Peeling

Peeling is Healing. So keep at it. Every time you feel frustrated, anxious, uneasy, irritable, angry, uncomfortable, or downright psychopathic, that’s the onion inviting you to peel yet another layer.

It’s lots of work and maybe a few tears will be shed on the way to the core but that’s where you’ll find yourself. You will most likely tap into some childhood memories and catch a glimpse of who you are. From that sacred space within, you will re-emerge with stories that will aid in your memoir writing efforts.

Over to you…

When was a time you caught yourself getting emotional or frustrated about something that was small or insignificant on the surface? Did you try to understand why you had such a big emotional reaction to it? What did you find out about yourself?