I remember the first time I ever used a Sat Nav. I was sent on a training course by my new employer, to an unfamiliar town.

A short time after starting in my new role as a Sales Executive, my employer had volunteered me for a training day which meant driving a far distance from where I lived and worked. I was summoned to the office and informed that I would need to get myself away early to ensure I was not late for the mandatory training course. I hadn’t long since passed my driving test and I was required to make my own way to the remote training centre. I managed to force a smile as I was handed the course details, but I was terrified if truth be known. I wasn’t going to admit it to my new boss, and by this time in life, I was well accomplished in the art of incongruence. Grinning like a Stepford wife, I took the details being handed to me whilst trying to hold onto my churning insides heaving up onto his desk.

I hadn’t driven any distance at that stage in my life, let alone entertained a motorway and as the date grew ever closer, I struggled to suppress the panic that was silently consuming me while my brain conjured up a million and one reasons as to why I shouldn’t and couldn’t attend. Every cell in my body was pleading with me to cancel, planting increasingly bizarre excuses into my mind; the kind of ludicrous stories children might come up with when they feel back into a corner.  The adult in me reasoned & rationalised constantly, I needed the job, I needed this job to be different, I needed to – as my new manager put it ‘give my head a shake and get on with it’. For the next two weeks, I pushed it to the back of my mind, prayed for divine intervention – freak tsunami hitting North Yorkshire or something, anything that would bring this awful situation to an end (the awful situation being driving from A to B like many people that are not me manage to do without breaking a sweat). I avoided conversations with colleagues on the lead up as just the word ‘training’ now triggered me into panic and brought me out in hives.

The day prior to the dreaded journey, I was really struggling to remain focused. I was in my head watching reruns of scenarios where I was lost, late and alone, none of which ended well for me.  An observant colleague approached my desk and suggested, rather than worrying about getting lost why didn’t I just take ‘the Garmin’. I had no clue what the Garmin was at the time, so holding his hand out for my car keys, I watched and listened as he fitted the Sat Nav into my car, punching in the destination postcode as per the details provided.

I’d never used a Sat Nav prior to that, so a colleague kindly set it up in my car & punched in the postcode as provided in the course details.

The following morning, I set off early on the almost four-hour road trip heading for the remote training centre. A glorious sunrise got up to greet me as I drove along unfamiliar country lanes surrounded by glistening green fields & rolling hills and for a short time at least, all was well with the world.

Focusing intently as the Sat Nav croaked his instructions – I drove as I listened, and I listened as I drove, switching off my redundant brain. I played scenarios in my mind, reruns of me entering the training room, mentally rehearsing the inevitable dreaded ‘introductions’ once I arrived.

A good few hours into my journey I developed an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, when the Garmin that was suckered to my dashboard suddenly announced the destination was 500 yards on my left. The vehicle and I slowed to a stop.

Unless the training centre was a derelict farm building in the middle of nowhere, which it wasn’t!,  the overconfident Garmin was wrong and I was stumped!

I could vaguely recall passing through a handful of quaint villages earlier,  but now there was nothing, not a soul nor a training centre in sight.

Parking outside the old farm building, my hands visibly shaking, I reached into my bag for my phone.

“Damn it – No signal”

I tapped the phone on the palm of my free hand and shook it in the air a few times trying to will some life into it. Like rolling dead batteries between your palms in an attempt to lengthen the battery life – I can confirm this ‘shaking some will’ technique doesn’t work either.

I was lost.

I was completely well and truly effing lost.

I had no idea where I was.

I had no idea where I was supposed to be.

I had no idea where I was in relation to where I was supposed to be in just under 60 minutes time.

I felt sick.

Right on cue, my trusty inner critic popped up eager to have her say and remind me of the fact that  ‘I was lost’…

New mental imagines of a room packed to the rafters of disapproving faces stared disappointedly at me as I imagined loudly stumbling through the door, disturbing the entire class – late, late, ever so late….  rushed & apologetic! Embarrassing images swamped my mind, causing it to short-circuit.

Utter panic had taken hold ,I couldn’t catch my breath. I opened my car door, desperate to let in some air,  my internal organs knotted and twisted, the mist of confusion descended as my mind buffered to offline.

Throughout the journey, my focus had been so completely engrossed in the other – the now conveniently silent Sat Nav had nothing more to say and I had lost my bearings entirely.

I’d paid no attention whatsoever to any landmarks or street names. I’d dismissed any sensations of familiar intuition as unreliable while continuing to blindly follow this complete stranger, confidently placing 100% trust in ‘my journey’ somewhere other than self.

In this snippet of time, I was filled with a sense of knowing. The familiar feeling of being lost – disconnected, ran parallel with my life.

I’d lived much of my time on this Earth inside my head, pre-empting, imagining,  paying no attention to my internal sat nav, disconnected from my body, unplugged from my emotions. And just like now – finding myself lost outside this derelict building, I didn’t know how to be. what to do, where to go, how to move forward…. I felt unprepared with absolutely nothing to draw on.

I recognised how throughout my life, I’d been a follower, kidding myself on that I was in control. Always putting other people’s opinions, needs and viewpoints in front of my own. Always aiming to please or appease.  I trusted anyone and everyone’s judgement before mine. In my mind and in the mind of others – as far as I was concerned,  my opinion counted for nothing – I was voiceless.

I was agreeable, eager to be liked & desperate to be approved of. The boat rocker who tried hard never to rock the boat; the eternal peace-keeper.

I was forever following the lead of seemingly more confident others, others who had in truth misplaced their own maps – and as a result, I usually ended up on some wild goose chase or getting led and lost down the garden path.

I sat there motionless for a while. I felt stuck with no sense of direction – aware that the clock was ticking …trying hard to pretend it wasn’t!

I became angry, enraged – Swearing at the Sat Nav for misguiding me.

Directing blame at my no longer considered kind colleague who suggested using the Sat Nav in the first place.

Angry with my New Boss for making me do this stupid training…

Angry with the Training Centre for being remote and difficult to find…

Angry with the trainer for not being clearer on his instructions, for not starting later, for not being closer….

Furious with my crappy phone that had no service… Angry with the phone manufacturer for making phones that could have no service….

Angry with the journey for being long and tiresome…

Furious with the day for rushing ahead without me…

Furious with God for making my life so difficult and complicated…

Angry at the world for not caring enough to help me find my way…

I cried.

I sat in silence for a while longer… long enough to realise I was angry and disappointed with myself ….

I leaned forward and switched off the Sat Nav.

I took a deep breath and commanded my mind to ‘think’! I drew a blank.

Nothing came to mind.

With my hand on my heart, to stop it from pounding out of my chest and tears spilling from my eyes, I asked God; the universe, to help me.

I never liked asking for help, but I knew that help is what I needed.

“Guide me, Show me the way’ …

I Felt …… something, a sensation, a fluttering within…

I started the engine, the fog was lifting, my mind, re-navigating and attempting to reconnect…

“just keep moving forwards” my timid internal voice suggested. My inner critic had thankfully taken a back seat as a much less confident internal dialogue took over – not nearly as confident as the Garmin Sat Nav had been, but as I moved forward, the outline of rooftops in the distance came into view. Nervous flutters turned to flutters of excitement and the inner dialogues confidence grew… louder, stronger… more certain ‘this is it, see, I told you,  you’re on the right track, keep going, forward has to be the way”!

Making mental notes as I drove, paying attention to my internal Sat Nav, I felt my way forward guided by internal dialogue and intuition. Suddenly the place felt familiar, I recognised the name of the town. My body relaxed as my brain read out the words ‘training Centre’ on a large white building standing before me…

I was no longer lost, my mind body & soul while working together,  instinctively knew the way.

As I recall the thoughts and feelings of this past experience, one of hundreds of thousands of similar experiences, I’m reminded of how far I have come. For many people, getting lost is no big deal, nothing to worry about – none of those thoughts & feelings mentioned above would even enter their heads… and there in lies the truth.

When you do experience constant fear and terror in everyday situations, you constantly compare yourself to others who don’t, and criticise and judge yourself harshly… and the reverse is also true. People who don’t experience life in the same way often and sometimes unintentionally, view people who struggle emotionally as weak, chaotic and dramatic – their perception of the situation is entirely different. Chaotic and Dramatic are words that correctly describe the experience.

These days being lost wouldn’t concern me in the least, my first thought would be, how lost can you really be on an island the size of the UK? That’s because my perception, mindset and nervous system are no longer permanently based in fear. This persistent ‘negative energy and information flow’, is what we refer to as ‘trauma’.

I remember how terrifying it was and can empathise with those people who do experience life this way. I advocate for a Trauma Informed Society.

I recognise the chaos & rigidity in my nervous system as I struggled to regulate my emotions back then, in comparison to the harmony, calm, balanced thinking and good health that I appreciate today thanks to my healing journey.
I no longer feel the need to compare or to pretend or hide my feelings for fear of judgement or embarrassment, I have traveled a long way.  I am finally comfortable with who I am, I approve of myself and I recognise it as being part of life’s journey as we grow, develop and evolve.

If you find yourself lost, disconnected, dissociated or stuck, and you resonate with the experience of feeling lost – reach out, we are here to help…. and remember to always look within, the answers for you are always within you.