I’ve seen little trinkets and gems about myself over the last year and a half. Suffering Anxiety and the ups and downs that come with it has led me, at times, to feel more lost than I’ve ever felt. When I felt lost I would begin to battle my way through the undergrowth blindly, with no idea of where I was headed. Sometimes I still do it a little; it’s a natural reaction; to want to move away from pain. It didn’t matter where I went, as long as I could eliminate this feeling. At times I definitely felt like Castaway (above), loin cloth and all…
Sometimes you try so hard to find your way that you end up even more lost. Until you get to a point where you have no choice but to throw your stick on the ground and sit on a log and scream, because there’s really no more searching you can do. You have to just admit, I’m f**king LOST!!! Get me OUT!!!” Joyous no?
WELL, in fact it is joyous, because it is only by getting this lost and eventually sitting on that log in your loin cloth and screaming that we can ever really find our way home. It’s not a step you can skip annoyingly. So many of us resist this feeling, push it down, cover it with something else, run from it. Understandable right? No one wants that feeling…Why would we? It’s awful. Confusion, attempting to work things out, things feeling wrong, for whatever reason. Perhaps something you placed all your importance on has disappeared or been taken away from you unexpectedly. Perhaps who you thought you were has been taken away somehow. It can be something as “big” as losing a loved one or as “small” as gaining a stone or a best friend moving away. Perhaps you don’t even have a reason, or you can’t see one. Perhaps nothing has changed in your life but you still feel lost.
The way to learn about yourself and to find your way off the island isn’t to search incessantly, or to cover up the issue or to remove the thing you think is causing it. Why not just be lost for a little while? Sure you need to stay alive so stick to the basics – food and water – but otherwise, just be lost? Amazing things are seen when you’re lost on that island; it is only when we look up from our log and accept our surroundings that beautiful things reveal themselves to us. Things we never knew existed when we were comfy and safe on the mainland…
It sounds like the biggest cliché in the world and I do hate a cliché but you really cannot be found until you get totally utterly lost.
It’s ironic as well that we think we’re alone in this feeling…”Everyone else seems fine?!” “Look how great their life is? They always look so happy…” “But Facebook says…”
Actually, when you take the focus off yourself and your own ragged loin cloth, and look around that island, just for a moment or two, you realise that so many others are also lost, battling their own way through the woods unsure of where they’re meant to be heading. Your suffering feels unique to you but in fact everyone suffers, it’s all just for different reasons. Look up for a second, really look and listen, and actually there’s people everywhere on logs near you, in their loin cloths, screaming out for help.
Go join them on their log for a few minutes. You don’t have to sit on their log for long and you’ll doubtless be travelling different routes off the island but you may well cross paths along the way. Stop and acknowledge them. Don’t be proud or patronising or pretend to be fine, or offer them obvious advice, it’s just not cool: “I’m FINE, you just have to keep going mate” or “Well you just need to find an alligator, catch it, eat it and build a tree house, it’s easy…”. It may make you feel stronger for a few minutes but you’ve made them feel worse about how they’re feeling and you’re lying to yourself too. Don’t sit on their log and wallow about your own issues or about theirs – just sit down and empathise and be proud and honoured of what they are sharing. And be proud to share your own experience. When you admit to someone that you feel lost, you receive back the most incredible things. Once we empathise with others we are able to empathise with ourselves and with that peace comes new vision and clarity on our own journeys, but that’s a side effect, not the purpose, of empathy.
It may only be a 5 minute pause for you to acknowledge someone else’s journey (“What happened mate? That sounds tough…”) but we’re all on this island together, and that’s one certainty that won’t ever change so we may as well share…
Being lost. It’s both a painful but wonderful thing. But one day you’ll look proudly back at the day you sat screaming on a log in your loin cloth, and realise it was the day that made you who you are, without a doubt. And all of a sudden, you’ll realise that that island you thought you were on, was actually part of the mainland all along. You just couldn’t see it back then.
Be Lost. Be Proud.