I remember the day so vividly. I sat at our dining table, a cup of tea warmed my dehydrated hands, the steam from the drink gave my tired face a dewy glow and the aromas from my brewed chai were like a balm for my weary head.
It was so quiet, which I welcomed, but it also made me realise how alone I felt.
In stark contrast, the day before was busy with celebration. It was a year since our daughter was born to us, and the day was not only a celebration of her being in the world but also the fact that we had made it to the first summit. One year! I loved her immensely – she was an extension of every part of me; my body, my emotions – as her feelings would reflect mine and vice versa. And my mind – every single thing I did – revolved around her. I sang, for her. I cooked, for her, I created and crafted, with her. Her existence had become my purpose, and in parts this made me feel whole; but at times disengaged too.
Being a mother was teaching me so much. I could see myself at my best and my worst. Motherhood was the ultimate confrontation with myself.
I realised in that moment that the aloneness I felt didn’t come from an absence of people, support or things to do. It came from a disconnection with myself. I felt lost. I was lost. And that made me uncomfortable. I needed an anchor and I knew it couldn’t be my daughter or my partner; I couldn’t find myself in others. This journey in reclaiming myself had to be mine.
The next five years was spent wandering. I became more curious about me. When I looked to see if I could reconnect to my pre-mummy life, I realised that motherhood had fundamentally changed my world view. There were parts of me that I recognised, but there were aspects that were so different. I realised that this was going to be a journey, a process rather than a destination. And so, the search for self continued.
I asked myself questions about my wants, needs, motivations, purpose, values and beliefs – having conversations with myself that I had never had before. I was finally in the driving seat of my own life and it felt breathtakingly powerful. I started valuing my own body, which I had neglected for such a long time: this has been life changing for me. My voice – which had been drowned out by life noise – was becoming voluble and this is because I was homing in on it. I continue to listen to it more intently today. Motherhood has changed me infinitely. I have become stronger, more resilient, confident and honest. I know much less about the world than I thought I did, but I know more about myself.
What I have learnt and continue to learn, is that it is ok to feel lost. Feeling lost isn’t always about having lost one’s way, rather it can be a calling. Sometimes you have to lose yourself to discover your parts. The process of losing and finding yourself is a journey and can happen multiple times in one’s life: a new arrival, the death of a loved one, a new relationship, perhaps.
What life experience has left you feeling lost? Are you lost or just not yet found?