Peeling the Onion

This month I’m not writing about a place I have travelled to, rather a different kind of journey.  For the past 4+ I have been writing a memoir of my early life.  I’m not writing it because I am famous or a narcissist as I’m neither of those.   Why then?  Because those years shape us by creating our patterns of thinking which in turn affects our behaviour and each year, adds a layer.


My desire came from years of coaching often using my life as an example of overcoming.  It took me a long time to peel my onion and deal with the early layers.  If reading my memoir will help someone peel their onion then I will have been of service.  And being of service makes one’s life meaningful.


There or those who don’t want to deal and peel with the past.  When I have observed the reluctant onion, I typically witness anger, jealousy, and the continuation of dysfunction.  Those of you who have worked with me know how I love to observe.


According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, depicted through a pyramid paradigm, Self-Actualization is the goal at the top.   To achieve this, one will aspire to the following VALUES of morality, creativity, spontaneity, acceptance, experience purpose, meaning and inner potential.  Being of service, we live these Values.


Despite having abuse and trauma in my life, I am one of the lucky ones.   A whopping percentage of people do not have their basic needs met – breathing, food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep.  Off the top of my head and in no particularly order (my attempt to be apolitical) the following Regions come to mind:  Syria, Gaza, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Sudan, and the Sahel (Chadian proverb meaning ‘Where two rivers meet, the waters are never calm’).  According to The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall, ‘The Sahel is the Shoreline, the Sahara, the Sea’.  Think Northern Africa.


I am blessed in that being challenged the way I was, I have attained a degree from the School of Hard Knocks.  I learned that mulling, whining, complaining and martyrdom does not serve anyone, most importantly, ourselves.  Taking responsibility for our lives does.


I have worked on my inner game time and time again because for me it was a must.  I had a thought at an early age that I could have a better life.  Then it morphed into a conviction, a certainty, a destination.  I didn’t know how I was going to get there so I sought guidance through books, mentors, retreats, counsellors, and trusted friends.   And for all that I received and for everyone who has helped me along the way, I THANK YOU!


Below is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir:


Soon after, Bill emerged from the bedroom.  He looked horrid.  His robe was open, and we could see the wound on his stomach where his daughter had stabbed him.  The wound that wouldn’t heal festered, oozing with puss.  His nose was swollen and red and he had eruptions of alcoholic acne on his face.  Disheveled, his hair was unwashed, uncombed, his face unshaven and he wore a filthy bathrobe.  When he came to say hello, I found him abhorrent and had to hold back my vomit.


Mom was trailing behind him in her similarly disgusting housecoat.  She wore no make-up, and this was a woman who had insisted on putting her make-up on every day.  That was how she had started her day ever since I could remember.  In the mornings she’d have a cup of coffee and a cigarette before she applied ‘her face’.  Even when she stayed home, she applied make-up.  I came to realize it was to make her feel better about herself.  Unfortunately, cosmetics wouldn’t have helped her this day.  She was drawn, frail, a shadow of the vibrant woman she used to be before the beatings and the excessive alcohol, before she put rye whiskey in her coffee instead of saccharin in the morning”.


What I didn’t know when I began drafting my story was how much it would help me to purge long repressed emotion that I naively thought I had.


I have come to realize with a little help from my friends is that trauma remains in the body long after we’ve done the work with our mind.  Now my focus is the mind/body connection because my body has been signaling to me loud and clear that there is more work to do.   A special thank you to my cousin ‘L’, a psychologist at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in the USA who recommended the book, ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Dr.  Bessel Van Der Kolk, a world expert on traumatic stress.


Hating Your Home


Children have no voice who their parents are, nor can they understand that parents may simply be too depressed, enraged, or spaced out to be there for them or that their parents’ behavior may have little to do with them.  Children have no choice but to organize themselves to survive within the families they have”.


I have no doubt that health issues I have experienced in the last while are from being in a prolonged state of flight or fight.  I am a living testament that cortisol (the stress hormone) can be both friend and foe, but that’s a whole other blog.


My memoir is how I organized the young me to overcome wave after wave and make it to shore.


As ever thank you for reading my blog.  Hopefully soon you will be reading memoir. xo


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