Getting Lost Helped Me Find Myself.

Via on May 17, 2013

Your weakness is your strength.

I woke up this morning with eyes practically swollen shut from all the crying I had done the night before, when I had gone through the oddest experience.

I’ve moved around a little bit in my life, but this is the first place that my husband and I really have ever planned on setting down roots.

We have a toddler, and are close to our families, even if it doesn’t feel close enough more often than not.

He has a good, stable job that he loves, and the area has great schools for our little one and great hiking and biking trails for all of us—what more could a girl ask for?

For it to feel like home, I realized last night.

I was driving to a meeting for a new yoga studio that I plan on teaching at weekly. (It’ll be my first regular teaching gig since our relocation here about a year ago.) Anyways, I knew where I was going—ish—or at least I thought I did.

My GPS took me to the middle of a parking lot in a defunct, abandoned shopping center, and declared that I was indeed at my desired destination of Panera. Huh?

I called my friend, this new studio’s owner, and she told me to plug in Target, which I had known was in the same plaza. Of course, Target (with an address very close to where I was supposedly already at) magically appeared. I hit “go” and told her I would be, unfortunately, late.

I proceeded to blindly follow my GPS device, trusting to end up someplace not in the middle of a practical cornfield, and wound up back on the highway. After many twists and turns and exists to other highways, my GPS again declared me—now totally and utterly lost, mind you—at Target.

I was in the ghetto at a Church’s chicken.

Wow.

Yes, I am a blogger and, no, I don’t have a smart phone. Ironically, I’d been missing the good ol’ days recently—you know, the days when you pulled out your ginormous Rand McNally map and figured out your own way, nothing digital required.

Long story made at least a little bit shorter (because there is significantly much more to my unwanted, adventurous tale), I found my way home. I missed our first staff meeting and I was crying so hard while I was driving that I had to focus even more on my fluid, calming breathing patterns because I had begun to have trouble seeing the road.

I walked in my front door, having kept in touch with my beautiful parents who were visiting for the day in order to watch my daughter, while I had dressed up and put on make-up (I even put on eyeliner) and left for a rare night out. (Hey, I know it’s a meeting at Panera, but I do not go out much. Okay, at all.)

My dad told me after comforting me that “If you want to get lost, follow someone.”

Isn’t that the truth.

I had put so much faith into a piece of technological machinery that I couldn’t even tell you if I’d turned right, left, south or north. I couldn’t even find my way back to where I’d come from, as if I knew where that was anyway.

The thing is, I don’t cry.

However, I always say to beware of what you have to verbalize that you are or you aren’t. If you have to state it, then maybe you’re actually questioning it.

It’s not that I can’t cry—my tear ducts work. It’s that I don’t like to. Because that makes me vulnerable. And I don’t like to be vulnerable.

But I am, vulnerable—that is.

I’m one of the most sensitive, anxious, thin-skinned people you could ever meet. I have an extremely strong, fiery personality, sure and this paradox inside of me is part of what makes me interesting and fuels my high-energy temperament. (I’ve heard it called “ADD,” but I shirk labels.)

Here’s another internal dichotomy that I’ve discovered it’s time for me to embrace: I am weak, but my weakness is my strength.

My tender fragility is what makes me kind.

I know what it’s like to be hurt, to be loved, to be cuddled—and to need all of these things in order to be a healthy person.

Because we all have qualities that we, or others, could perceive as weaknesses, when what they are in reality is our basic humanness that everyone possesses. Everyone.

We feel pain and we might cope and become hard and callous, but I truly believe that almost no one starts out this way.

We begin as tiny infants needing love and affection. Maybe we don’t get it. Maybe we do. Regardless, we grow into adults, who are basically small children pretending to be anything else but that.

Here’s what I think: it’s when we get in touch with this vulnerability and learn to embrace and then express it, that this is when we’re truly living life from an authentic place that’s sadly often buried deeply within—and this expression out to others, in the forms of gentle words, soft smiles and honest conversations (and writing), is where we connect to others; really connect.

I don’t connect to anyone, especially myself, when I embrace arrogance because my confidence took a fall. I don’t connect either when I choose to harbor my emotions and hold them hostage, because I’m still feeling them, I’m just not owning them, and that’s a lie.

Shedding tears on a consistent basis doesn’t mean you’re not living a lie, but trying to not make them happen does.

Still, the main issue that I had last night, besides missing the meeting and feeling quite a bit stupid, was that it made me realize that our new place isn’t home yet.

Yes, we’ve moved around—and in every other place we inhabited, I told myself that it was temporary. This one isn’t.

We’re setting down roots and forming a life, and not only for us, but for our daughter—and that’s just it. I can write and blog and think and live my life as a strong, independent woman, but the simple fact is that we do things for our kids.

Your life changes (or at least it should) when you bring a child into this world. There’s a rawness that cuts through all the b.s. in life after you’ve seen that baby’s newborn face. Being a parent forces you to embrace your weaknesses because they’re right there in front of you, in the form of an extremely tiny human being.

So I might want my new part of Ohio to feel like home after a year, but it doesn’t. I might still want it to feel like home in 30 years, and it still might not, but here’s what I realized last night in my tearful frenzy—it’s home to her, and that’s all that matters to me right now.

To her, our new house is home, her school is her playground, she has friends who genuinely love and care for her, and this is her familiar comfy spot—and while I might never enjoy crying, I know that I’m a better mother, and a better woman, when I own every single part of me as special, as lovable, and as a strength.

Because the other thing is that I am strong, even when I cry. I’m also delicate. Here’s what I’m not: breakable…and neither are you.

Your flaws, your less-than-ideal quirks—they make you who you are. Love them, embrace them, kiss them. If you don’t, who will?

Sometimes we’re all kids who get banged up playing a little too hard. That’s life.

I guess, for the time being, I’ll consider home to be the place where people are waiting for me to help make it better, to tell me that they love me exactly as I am, and to remind me that being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing—that learning to accept and desire all the facets of love, of life, and of ourselves, might just be the real gift after all.

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…To be alive is to be vulnerable.”

~ Madeleine L’Engle

 

 

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Source: biancajavois.tumblr.com via Michele on Pinterest

 

About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She's also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people that ever lived and she's also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor's degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer then make sure to check out her writing, as she's finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer's first book, The Best Day of Your Life, is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and on her website.

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12 Responses to “Getting Lost Helped Me Find Myself.”

  1. Carolyn Riker Carolyn Riker says:

    Thanks. Just what I needed to read. I appreciated you for writing what is real.

  2. Sean says:

    wow. Great piece. Thanks for sharing yourself so raw. ♥ I've been crying for 2 days and beating myself up for loving. I'm 56.

    • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

      Never beat yourself up for loving. I sincerely hope that this helps you begin to work through accepting and dealing with your emotions. I really believe that age is an arbitrary number when it comes to our deepest needs.

  3. Amy says:

    Beautiful and true. Blessings to you!

  4. jsh822 says:

    This is so honestly beautiful. I felt my body quiver as if some part of it in deep wanted to say "thank you" as I read this. Thank you for sharing. Being vulnerable takes a lot of courage and it is even more beautiful (I don't have another word better for this!) when you find strength in it. You're a great mom, wife, and friend, as I'm sure. As a writer and a person, you inspire me to stay true to my writing and myself.

    • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

      I absolutely cannot thank you enough for taking the time to articulate and write this comment to me. It means more than you know. I believe with every ounce of me that the only real way to connect as a writer to a reader is by communicating from a place without walls. I also believe that this is the best way to live life too. Life is too short to be anyone else but you.

  5. Aseem Giri says:

    I really identified with your calling the area you currently reside in as home since it is the place that your daughter will identify the most with. I grew up mostly on the East Coast and used to refer to myself as an estranged New Yorker for the first several years of residing in California. Now I say 'I'm settled' in Los Angeles. Was it the passage of time? No. Both of my children were born here. There's no other place that feels like home.

    • Jennifer S. White Jennifer White says:

      Thanks, that actually helps to hear you say that. I often feel "homeless" in the sense that no "place" really feels like home—but isn't it amazing how much children, something so new and fresh, can make everything fall into order with such a sense of familiarity?

  6. sol says:

    I thought you really got lost, that you were crying from losing your home, your kid and your husband.

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