I have a fairly good sense of direction – as long as I’m walking. As soon as my feet leave the ground, all bets are off. Especially when I have to stay on a predetermined path that is not heading in the same direction as my mind tells me my destination should be. I have perfected the art of getting lost over the years. I have figured out that mostly, I panic too soon and make a u-turn too quickly. And therein lies the mistake. Because as soon as you do that, every direction you head into, is inevitably the wrong one.
Now, I just keep going a little further than I am comfortable with and often enough I find my way again. It doesn’t always work of course and there are a few ways of dealing with those situations. Either you pick a car, any car really, and you just follow it until it takes you to a place you are more familiar with. Risky, but let me tell you, that method has certainly kept me from blind panic, and incidentally, got me to where I was going every time!
Another way would be to stop and call or ask for help. Calling someone else never really pays off, because they always ask you: “Where are you?”. If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be lost, now would I? Asking someone in the vicinity for directions has never really worked for me either because they either don’t know where I need to be, or they just give me bogus directions because they themselves don’t want to seem stupid.
But there are more means of losing your way than just physically getting lost. I know I’ve reached this point when I become completely unable to make a decision, or I make one and then keep changing my mind. It drives me insane and frustrates everyone who has to live with me in such a state of perpetual self-doubt.
Mostly, I treat these situations in much the same way as I would being physically lost – try to keep going until things make sense again. It rarely works. When you think you have found the answer, and it stops making sense, or you just forget what it was you thought you had figured out, that can really send your mind reeling and have you questioning everything you thought you already knew. In this case there really is no point in asking for directions because not even I know where I want to be going and I certainly have no idea how I got to where I am.
I have only very recently realised that my life would have been much more enjoyable if I had had more self-confidence while growing up (and older). I envy those people who have always known what they wanted from life and where they wanted to go. We have all dealt with one or two existential crises in our lives, but life really is just so much “easier” when you know who you are and want you want. The problem is that with every major life change, you have to figure this out all over again!
You would think that making the choice to be a mom first and everything else second should simplify life. But it does not. Your world shrinks and you forget how to maintain an adult conversation. Even when you do get to talk to people other than your children, you seem to forget how to talk properly. Instead of speaking directly to anyone, you seem to speak as if you are your child. “Would you please pass me my juice, grannny?” Instead of: “Could you please pass my child his juice, mom?”
In any grown-up conversation (aside from conversations with other parents) you feel as if don’t have anything of value to add. The typhoon on the other side of the world is just nowhere near as remarkable as the fact that your baby is teething, waking you up every three hours and running a fever. And even when you do get the chance to sit down and discuss kiddy-things with other parents, it’s hard to focus on any one topic, or finish any one conversation, as all parties involved have to keep more than half their attention on the children who all insist on fighting over one toy when there is a whole room full of other things to play with. It’s simply exhausting!
But I have learned something in this eternal struggle with exhaustion. Sometimes it’s better to just not. Not struggle, not question and definitely not try. While keeping going will at least get you somewhere when you’re physically lost, in certain states of being lost it is better to simply: Stop. Breathe. Be. Until the world is back in kilter…