Tonight while driving across town to run errands, I had a moment of reflection about these same roads I have driven thousands of times before. As someone that lives with mental health issues, there are emotional and physical responses that come about while driving down certain roads in my town; one of the “joys” of having what I affectionally call a “sticky brain”. It’s as though my mind has imprinted on the streets that I’ve traveled and can recall, sometimes rather vividly, how I have felt or what I have thought before in those same areas at different times in my life. It could be that I took a yoga class in that building, went to a doctor on that street, or bought soda at that 7-11. Unfortunately, the memory of those places and events are inexplicably tied to great internal discomfort; to a long season of my past when my mental health was broken and weary.
For several years, the memory of those places or streets would cause a feeling of dread, heavy sadness or strong anxiety. It would come on strong and stick around for the afternoon or evening. When I learned a thing or two about the best practices for mental health recovery, I understood that this recall of memories was something I could practice accepting; maybe even bring up myself as I drive those roads. With time (and I mean lots of it), I can often feel very little of that familiar discomfort. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t like to sucker punch me at times, but I’ve accepted (rather begrudgingly) that I have a very strong recall when it comes to uncomfortable memories and feelings and that’s just a matter of fact.
Tonight while driving, I saw it a bit differently though. I saw these same streets and paths as a metaphor for our lives. We travel along with a general aim and purpose directing us, but there are many potholes and unexpected detours that we take. These can wreak havoc if we’re running late, run out of gas or rear-end someone at the stoplight. It just doesn’t make sense for us to expect smooth travels every time we “get in the car”, but as humans, we do it anyway. We expect the unrealistic and become disappointed and disillusioned as soon as it seems to be otherwise. My “Life is a Highway” metaphor came tonight with a soft, settled feeling in my heart. I literally put my hand on my heart because I sensed a bit of an internal truce; one where I made peace with those roads and memories of discomfort. It is a part of me. It may not always be this way because that is surely one thing I’ve learned: our feelings fluctuate, but it felt cozy tonight and I thought to share with you, dear reader. Maybe you needed a reminder that your life paths thus far may have been filled with detours and distracted drivers, but you are still on the right path. Keep driving.