Removing The Layers


Last week I found a box full of memories.

The clear out continues, and more treasure is coming to light. This week I found an old journal. To be honest, I don’t really keep a journal. However, when I went through a fairly dark, transitional journey in my own life, a dear friend recommended that I write down my thoughts, and gave me a lovely notebook in which to do so.

There aren’t a lot of entries, but each one is like a punch to the stomach. Oh, not because they are nasty or violent – in fact, there’s a lot of love in them, for my daughter, for my husband, even for myself. I muse a lot about the idea of moving back to England, even going so far as to say I was ‘putting it out in the Universe.’ Sitting here in the UK, almost ten years later, I can only marvel. No, the entries hit me hard because they are a written record of a time in my life when I was peeling back the layers of who I’d become, to find who I was again.

That probably sounds a little dramatic, but change can come upon us in a variety of ways, and sometimes the layers of expectation and self-preservation can build up, like pearl accretions inside a pink shell. However, instead of ending up as a perfect round pearl, you become something rather misshapen, a distortion of who you really are.

This had happened to me, and I didn’t really realise it until I’d had my daughter and challenged myself with the thought of who I wanted to be for her. And I realised I had lost my way. There is a passage in one entry which reads as follows:

‘I realised that I had reached the end, that I had nothing more to give to the way I was living and so it was time to make changes and move in the direction of who I want to be.’

Yes, that’s a bit of a long sentence, I know. However, it struck me as being very profound. I do believe that the key to making change is to recognise the need for change, and here was the moment where I had done so.

There were a couple of loose pieces of paper in the front of the journal, one of which was a printed out quote given to me by the same dear friend. It reads:

‘Whatever you have forgotten, you can remember. Whatever you have buried, you can unearth. If you are willing to look deep into your own nature, if you are willing to peel away the layers of not-self you have adopted in making your way through the tribulations of life, you will find that your true self is not as far removed as you think.’ Meredith Jordan

Even though I’m still peeling away, I can look back and see how far I’ve come. And that is truly to be treasured.



15 thoughts on “Removing The Layers

  1. I could very well have written this entry, except not ten years ago but today. You have the power to write in such a way that I can often relate. Or maybe we are more alike than we know it… Beautiful post and great metaphor in ‘peeling the layers’ too. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you, Elissaveta – I think we are alike in many ways πŸ™‚ I’m pleased this resonated with you, and wish you success peeling the layers – it can be quite painful at times, can’t it, but so worth it once done πŸ™‚

  2. A few years ago, I came to a similar conclusion. I was was not the person I wanted to be. I’ve been adjusting my direction since then. I recognize that I still have a ways to go as I was that far off track, however I also know that I am now that much closer. I love the pearl metaphor.

  3. This post is so tender, Helen. How wonderful that you found this journal and can remind yourself of who you once were, and how far you’ve developed towards becoming who you wanted to be.

    I’ve only started journalling in the last couple of years. I might write about a topic one day, something else the next, but a few days later, I’ll return to the first topic and take it further. Because it’s ongoing, it really helps peel back the layers and discover who I am.

    We all hide our real selves away, and I wonder what the world would be like if we were all our authentic selves. But we aren’t because we feel too vulnerable, so we hide inside our skins and clothes and layers and feel protected.

    • Thanks Louise – I actually turned off the Twitter notification for it, because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share it beyond my followers. However, it was something I needed to write about. I don’t know if I’ll ever get in the habit of keeping a journal, but something about these few short entries seems to say that they were written for a reason. Perhaps just to remind me, as you say, how far I’ve come. πŸ™‚

      • You’ve reminded me that I used to start a journal at times of stress or change. I’ve lost them all, except the one I started after I had my first child. I love re-reading thatβ€”brings all the wonder of a newborn back. I wish I’d made journal writing a ritual a long time ago. Writing’s so good for sorting out our thoughts, and it’s much cheaper than therapy and better for us than wine! πŸ˜‰

      • Oh, that’s lovely. I did find another notebook I wrote in after the gorgeous girl’s birth, but it was mainly a list of gifts and then a record of how often she was fed and pooped! πŸ˜€ We had a good laugh reading through that.
        I do so agree with your last point – I find now that if something is bothering me, I just need to sit down and write it out, and often it’s all I need to find clarity – much cheaper than therapy, absolutely!

  4. ..about the time I think the layer has come off, it’s back with a vengeance! Sorry about the split post. Using phone and the reply button is just too close! 😊

    • Oh, it is tough to do phone comments, isn’t it? I always end up doing typos as well.
      And I agree, getting rid of the layers is difficult to do, especially with external factors pushing them back on. πŸ™‚

  5. I’m not surprised so many people feel like you’re speaking to them with this post. I do too. I am in the middle of a significant crisis – approaching 30 and with a child I didn’t expect to have for half a decade. It’s shifted me so far off course I can barely identify a shred of me. But like you say it’s making me reevaluate who I want to be for him. Love this post.

    • Thanks Sacha. I think having a child is one of the most significant life changing events anyone can go through. It affects absolutely everything and it does take a conscious effort to hold onto yourself at times. At the same time, it can give you a sense of purpose like no other.
      I wasn’t sure whether to share this post, but I’m glad I did.

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