A Messy World, Being Kind, Gratitude, Grief, Love, Moments, Motherless Daughter, On Writing, Storytelling, Writing Memoir, Writing on Grief

Showing Myself Kindness

It’s a messy world out there. And I’m one of those deeply feeling people Glennon Doyle Melton is talking to when she says,

“You are not a mess. You are a feeling person in a messy world.”

These words have really helped me. And my new goal with this quote in mind, is to be the kindest person I can be…to myself.

I’m writing a memoir about losing my mother to ovarian cancer when I was 11 years old. In fact, I’ve written the book. I just have to edit it, again, for maybe the eighteenth time, because there are too many words in the book. At least, that’s what I think, and I’ve read that agents will not look at a first time author’s work if the word-count is too high. So I’m back editing my memoir again, and it’s painful. It’s painful because I have to reread all the heartbreaking things that happened in my childhood as a result of Mam getting cancer…

…The first time she told my brother and me that she needed to go into hospital to get an operation. The time I lay awake in bed crying into the night because I missed her. All those Mother’s Days when Mam was not around. The Christmas she couldn’t be with us at home because she was in hospital. The time she got stung by a wasp when she was already so sick and weak. The time I saw her in a taxi coming from the hospital and the happiness poured from every cell in my body because I didn’t expect to see her and yet there she was, heading home, to be with us. Gripping my dad in the hallway of our home as sympathizers lined up to tell us how sorry they were…

Every time I reread the words it breaks my heart. And so, I need to be kind to myself.

Writing this memoir has been cathartic for me because it has allowed me to feel, to cry and to release my love and pain into this story form. But it’s not easy to go back over the story day in and day out, year in and year out, while I reexamine and query agents and wait. It’s difficult for me to know what I should take out and what I should leave in. I want to leave it all in. But the word-count is dropping and I do feel like the memoir is improving.

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

And so, yesterday while I was meditating with Oprah and Deepak, I realized how tight my jaw was, and my neck. I noticed how good it felt to lie on my yoga bolster and breathe.

I breathed in and I let go.

I’m a newly wed and exhausted from all that the wedding entailed. The upcoming election has me exhausted. The injustices around the world have me exhausted. And my current work project is so close to my heart and so draining at times, that I decided I needed to find a way to connect with my deepest self and be gentle with that person. I considered ways to do this. And since I’m a writer I wrote down what came to me. Here it is:


I will try to remember these questions throughout my day. And at night I will run through them in my mind before going to sleep. These questions ground me and remind me of how to be kind to myself. All of them are true to who I am. There is nurturing in all of them.

And I will keep telling my story. Mam’s story. Our story. Stories have a way of connecting all of us, reaching others, ignoring our differences and splitting our hearts wide open in this messy, messy world.

Meanwhile I will go through my list and ask myself “Did I…?”

I am not a mess. I am a feeling person, sharing my story.



7 thoughts on “Showing Myself Kindness

  1. Masha says:

    I feel you. beautiful writing, Carmel. Thank you for reminding us to have self-compassion. Magical how “less is more”. My heart jumps when you talk about how stories connect us all. Through time and space. Amazing how works of art break great walls, break walls we didn’t know existed. ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Masha. It means a lot to me. Yes, art is so healing. Pouring ourselves into creativity is one way to overcome, and get through the tough times.


  2. Pingback: The Important Role My Dad Played in My Life Following My Mother’s Death. | Alovelywoman

  3. Carmel, I love, love, love your honesty and insight. Thank you for putting into words what many of us feel and think. I especially needed to hear the quote, that I am not a mess, simply a feeling person in a messy world. I too am writing my story of mother loss. My mother died when I was four years old, of a brain tumor. As I write, I find I really don’t have any memories of her. My memories are really stories family members have shared, and while that makes me incredibly sad… it is my truth.
    Thank you, Carmel, for your beautiful writing. Best wishes on the editing!!!


    • Thank you so much. I am so sorry for your loss. How terribly sad to lose your mother when you were only four years old. I am currently querying agents which is a long process. Best of luck with your memoir. X


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