I’ve always been a flakey person. I get big ideas and get excited about them, only to shelve them immediately when something new pops into my head. I change hobbies faster than some people change their underwear, and am constantly re-evaluating my opinions on just about everything. I overbook my weekends and cancel plans. I forget to return borrowed items, leave birthday gifts sitting by my front door for months before actually getting them to the giftee, and somehow manage to forget that my phone has the ability to dial out.
I’ve always been this way, and I’ve made some great strides in learning to keep my head down, but it’s tough.
The other day I ran across this old post I had written for “Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness” where I explored the perpetually distracted nature of my mind.
I laughed as I read through it, realizing that I could just as easily write the same post today. I’m still just taking this thing one day at a time and learning to implement more mindfulness to combat the flakiness.
Today, I would like to share that post as it ran on January 3, 2014.
A few days ago I noticed a picture on the wall in my Almost-In-Laws’ den (which is currently serving as our bedroom). It’s a picture of the 3 Stooges on a firetruck with a caption that reads, “When disaster strikes, don’t send a stooge…send three!”. I’m sure it’s always been there, but somehow I never saw it. This isn’t a rare occurrence. For some reason, my brain just flat-out ignores most of my surroundings.
This malfunction of gray matter annoys the living daylights out of Almost-Husband, as he feels it is a detriment to my personal safety. Now that we have a little one, it worries him even more.
I’ve never seen it as a hindrance to my safety, as I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t miss a raving lunatic heading my way or anything that drastic. It is, however, a trait I wish I could get rid of. Mostly I think my brain is too focused on itself and providing me a constant stream of ideas, worries, and insights for me to truly focus on much else. Maybe it’s a product of my unmanaged anxiety disorder, maybe it’s due to my (also unmanaged,) ADD, I’m not really sure. What I am sure of is that I hated the way meds make me feel and this is the way I’ve been for as long as I can remember.
I’d love to be able to be truly present. I strive to better myself in that direction and try hard to make it happen, but it exhausts me. While I’m washing dishes, I’m writing a new song. While I’m playing with my daughter, I’m mentally preparing my to-do list. While I’m watching a movie, I’m analyzing how and why I came to be who I am now. I’m constantly dreaming, thinking, and scheming. I’m imagining a future conversation or mentally revising an old one, contemplating how different things would be if I’d said something different. My mind just never shuts off.
This contributes greatly to my extreme clumsiness, as I’m too preoccupied to look where I’m going. It causes frustrations with others when I have to ask them to repeat what they’ve just said…often numerous times, as my mind drifts off. I lose things constantly. I forget things easily (which might have something to do with my over-reliance on lists). But nowhere does this state of constant distraction cause more chaos than when I’m driving.
Not only is it presumably dangerous to be driving while distracted, but my lack of observation skills means that I’m pretty much always lost. Even though I’ve lived in the same small, Iowa town for the entirety of my 26 year existence, I never know where I’m going.
It doesn’t matter if I’ve driven the same route a hundred times. I somehow manage to get myself completely lost and confused. This stresses me out, as I know I should be able to get around on my own, and that stress causes more stress to those who have to deal with my stress (which is a task most often reserved for Almost-Husband). Their stress adds to my stress and well, I’m sure you can see the infinite stress magnification that occurs and the melt-downs that can ensue.
I don’t know how to fix this problem beyond trying to force my brain to listen to me and focus, which hasn’t yielded many results thus far. I do, however, have a theory as to where my sub-par directional skills originated.
I think that at least in that particular instance, it comes down to this: as I kid, I didn’t have to pay attention to where we were going, so I didn’t. Some adult (usually Mom) was driving and I trusted that they would get us to our destination, so I busied myself with other things. I focused intently on the music playing on the radio or I contemplated life’s mysteries or thought about which Barbie I was going to play with when I got home. You know, kid stuff. I never once tried to memorize landmarks or took any notice of what was going on outside of my own head. Once I learned to drive, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know where anything was. I still don’t really have much of a clue. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve gotten lost in my own home at least once.
Luckily for all of you (I hope), a good portion of my zoning out now leads to amazing blog posts like these. You’re welcome, by the way. For your sake, I hope I never get a hold of my runaway imagination. For the sake of my sanity and that of my family, however, I hope someday I’ll be able to reign it in enough to give people the attention they truly deserve and really be in the moment during those special bonding moments. Additionally, I get pretty tired of being known as the flighty, space cadet blonde who couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag. I guess until I find a solution, I just have to embrace it or drive myself nuts.