Happy June 1st everyone and welcome to the first instalment of the ‘I am’ series.
The premise is simple. Everybody feels. Everybody feels – full stop. I am, you are, she is, he is. The truth is that we all have our own unique feelings and perspectives but our lifes themes are much the same.
I asked several people to send me a sentence that resonated with them and started with the words ‘I am’. My theory is that I could relate their theme to my life, deep dive into it and create a blog post about it.
Boy, the first one I am doing today is a doozy.
I AM LOST
When I received this one it packed one hell of a punch, talk about making a powerful statement. So much so in fact that I was actually afraid of it. Scared because the depth with which it resonated with me was almost painful and if there was ever a sign that this series was destined to be written, this was it.
That being said, I have already re-written this post at least five times. I have started from scratch, hand written it, screwed up page after page of text talking about ‘I am lost’. Like many people, I feel unnatural allowing myself to become vulnerable and I didn’t really comprehend just how vulnerable I would feel writing this series, truly though, it’s the very reason I believe it needs to be shared.
So here goes, I have edited out some of the details I find too harrowing, not because I didn’t want to share but because I was in danger of writing a small novel and this is, after all, a blog post.
I was always that child that didn’t want to grow up. I never craved coming of age, I watched my parents and extended family and being an adult just seemed so very hard. I always wanted to stay a child, protected by my lioness of a mother because, for every answer to life’s questions that growing up afforded me it raised so many more.
I tell you this because I think it’s important to admit to myself that for an awful lot of my life the fear of being lost controlled me and my choices in ways I didn’t understand and I was unable to grow past that fear.
There are many times that I have felt lost in my life and like with most things it comes in varying degrees. From feeling ‘meh’ to the downright bleak feeling that my entire life is like walking the misty moors of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles novels, at night, with no one else in the world walking with me. Completely alone with the Hound of the Baskervilles just lurking at every possible corner. No way out. No way back. No light.
As mentioned before, for the purpose of not writing my own book on this subject I am going to bypass some very significant times in my life when I have felt the most lost. Bereavements, leaving school at fourteen, redundancy, divorce and debt.
I am instead going to fast forward to 2014 when life was in fact awesome with a capital A. I had a great life, I was the healthiest I had ever been, my son was incredible, I had a great job and wonderful friends and family. And yet…even with this incredible life I felt adrift and empty and yes, lost. More than ‘meh’ but not quite ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’.
This was the part where that scared little girl was screaming “I told you so! being an adult is just too hard!” It made absolutely no sense but I was lost nonetheless. What was even worse was that I could feel it becoming a more and more powerful feeling every day.
Each morning the path that had been so clear to me only a few months before became more and more difficult to find. I reached for it in work but I was wrong and with that disappointment the moors all but swallowed me whole. Oh on the surface no one knew, I was all fake smiles and cheery chat. Underneath I was seething. I was also confused. After all is it even possible to be lost when I was where I had always dreamed of being?
Every time I looked in the mirror my inner monologue screamed “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME, WHO EVEN AM I!”
I continued to smile to the rest of the world, occasionally I tried to appear normal and would admit to being a bit tired or overworked but that’s a far as I would go. Somewhere in my mind there is a part of me that believes that sharing my vulnerabilities makes me damaged and undesirable. Yeah, I’m working on that.
The problem is that being lost and in the dark and not sharing that with people I love and admire is that, the very thing you’re doing to stay strong is also the very thing that allows the mind monsters in.
During this time I met someone. I convinced myself that I had fallen in love and that the person I had begun the relationship with had also fallen in love with me. Turns out that I masked my fear of being lost by pretending that this relationship was the light I needed to find my way. In doing this not only did I fool everyone including myself but I also unwittingly allowed the afore mentioned monsters in.
Actually, I need to make a correction to the above statement. I didn’t fool everyone. My lioness of a mother knew what was happening but I can be stubborn and I refused to believe her.
I gave away my power of self to someone that proved to be as toxic as unnecessary chemotherapy and I did this for almost a whole year. I was lost, refused to admit it, refused to share my fear and I paid a hefty price. I became physically ill. I was unhappy and utterly utterly depleted. I had not only lost my way, I had lost myself and I didn’t know where to begin to make things right.
I started where one should always start. I opened up to somebody. This was not an immediate fix, I didn’t suddenly stop being lost and it was clear that this was not going to just right itself. What did happen though was I stopped having to figure every little thing out on my own. Slowly but surely I made changes that allowed me to find the path again. I was happy.
Last year I began to feel the fear seeping in again. I had a good job, family that loved me, a great relationship and felt I had rebuilt my life. Yet…
Again, every time I looked in the mirror my inner monologue screamed “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME AGAIN, WHO EVEN AM I, I DON’T UNDERSTAND!”
Luckily for me a twist of fate occurred and I had an accident that changed the dynamic of my day to day life. This change allowed me the precious thing I needed. Time. The enforced rest and rehab has a way of clearing some of the fog away, it re-honed my perspective and afforded me the time to come to some personal realisations.
It dawned on me during my enforced rest that I had found myself lost once again but what came as a surprise was that I had never, ever felt found. Never. My permanent state of being is, in-fact, lost. Whereas that used to make me feel completely out of control, sometimes it still does. This ‘lost’ was different for one very important reason, it never felt as scary because I was in the midst of a sabbatical of sorts that allowed me to pause. This allowed me to acknowledge and process these feelings.
Unfortunately, the minute I went back to relative normality I boxed it all away and I didn’t reach out anymore. It took me until the 9th April of this year to realise the most important thing of all. We are all lost and that is so because life itself is not a destination. Life is a series of connected moments that when sewn together, create the beautiful tapestry that is your story. Your life.
On that day the sense of being lost hit me full force but what also dawned on me was that it was OK, human. What I could no longer accept following this realisation was that the fear was going to overwhelm me. The fear that if I made the change my instincts were telling me to make, I would fail. It was no longer acceptable to give the power of my life to fear.
So I changed. I left my ‘safe’ job because I was not satisfied by it, I was paying my bills but it was shrinking me to fit a box that I had outgrown years before without admitting it.
Do I know where this path is going to take me? Not in the slightest, I am lost after all, but the truth is that being lost is just another way to express the need for growth. Only I have the ability to grasp the opportunities to grow and to work tirelessly on building myself up. The path IS the growth, being lost is OK and it’s time I owned my own shit.
Do you own yours?
Thank you for reading.