Not long ago, I got together with a group of wonderful women friends. And, as is usual with this group, it took us a while to catch up on our “regular” lives. Trips and home renovations. Grown kids. Grandkids. Husbands and health. Pets and gardens and pests. Day-to-day life — both mundane and magical.
One of our sister friends shared about feeling deeply frustrated. She had quite willingly set aside all of her outside interests to care and advocate for her partner who suffered a rare form of cancer. She made space for the fierceness she needed to lead the fight.
And lead it she did. They won: appropriate treatment — still in the trial stage — and, were eventually declared cancer-free.
And now she was lost, she said. She was frustrated and angry about not being able to find a new passion. She told us that being well over eighty years old was not an excuse for passionlessness. Or for abandoning her quest. This attitude — and her transparency about being pissed off — is why she is one of my sheroes.
Another woman, a decade or so younger, was experiencing a similar struggling. She had regained some health while her husband had lost some. Also coming to her caretaker role with a positive attitude, she, too, worried about losing herself in the process — or maybe in the caretaker energy.
It takes a long time to build badass old ladies.
But just what does it mean to lose oneself? And what happens when we are lost?
I immediately think about driving and getting lost. A late GPS instruction here… a missed turn there. Pretty soon it adds up to real inconvenience, doesn’t it? (And it never happens on a full tank of gas, either, does it?)
And “lost” is a funny term for this phenomenon. We’re not lost like the tiny back of our favorite fancy earrings — we’re just not where we expected to be, at the time expected. And in the case of that car ride from hell, rebooting the GPS or getting off at the next exit will likely fix us right up. Not so when we get lost in our lives.
But just like my caretaking senior sisters, it’s not the actions I take that make me feel lost, it’s my expectations. I’m not where I expected to be, when I expected to be there. The first woman did not expect to have to go to war with insurance providers. She probably also didn’t expect her partner to survive. The second? Didn’t expect to survive herself. Having come through one of life’s giant detours, each of them is without a map or markers. Fewer friends. No set schedule. Interests by the wayside.
Who and what get picked back up and what becomes part of the litter left on the side of life’s big road? And how does one who feels lost go about making those decisions?