Sink or Swim
Tell us about a time when you were left on your own,
to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation
— on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?
It was late on a Thursday night. I was still recovering from a recent concussion but had decided to attend the forensic conference in Porirua (near Wellington, New Zealand’s capitol), booked months before. This evening was a free one and we were invited to explore the town. I had my own car, thought I knew the area and didn’t know any of the other attendees so set out on my own. I decided to look around the Mall, have dinner there and come back to the Hotel to read the additional course material.
The first part of my plan went well and then it didn’t. It was quite dark by the time I finally remembered where I had parked my car. Luckily I remembered the two most likely places, where I would usually park my car. This wee hiccup did foretell how the rest of the evening was going to go. Finding my car was relatively easy compared to the trial I faced next.
I left the Mall and suddenly realise I had no idea where I was. Nothing looked familiar and I couldn’t seem to catch the thought about where I was or why I was even here. The light provided from my headlights and the streetlights was not enough to help me find my way. Additionally, the lights from other cars on the road was making my visual experience even more indistinct. I pulled over and tried to work out my options.
I had to think past the overwhelming fear that I was experiencing. It is not unusual for me to get physically lost, hubby got me a GPS just for that, which I had forgotten I had in the car. On this occasion I felt confused within my own mind as well as in a landscape that was completely devoid of familiarity. There is nothing worse than being lost both physically and mentally, it leaves me with no anchor to the present time or place. I just panic.
In the end all I could think of was to use my cell phone to ring my hubby. As it was on speed dial it was not a hard thought to follow through on. This was despite knowing that he must be at home because I very rarely drove alone at night. Hubby answered and calmed me down until I was able to make sense. He wanted to know the name of the street I was on. It took awhile but I finally found a street sign that I could make out and pass onto him.
Hubby did suggest calling the local police but there is a limit to how embarrassed I want to be at any one time. Plus from what I could work out about what Hubby was saying, I would probably be breathalyzed and I hadn’t drunk any alcohol! He used the information that I was able to provide and his computer with Google Maps to direct me on the turns I needed to take to return to the hotel. He gave up trying to explain the GPS to me I was just to mentally drained to comprehend his instructions on it.
I eventually got back to the hotel safely. Hubby even rang them and asked to speak to me and my room number because while I had a key I could not remember which room I was in. The key itself provided no clues bar the Hotel name. Hubby did this because it was faster than arguing with me over my approaching reception and asking them. The embarrassment issue rears its head again.
Just to explain what happened to me. I was mentally worn out from the all day conference. I then pushed myself too far in going out rather than staying in at the Hotel and resting. I always do this but this time I was also stressed at being away from home amidst strangers, so my anxiety added to my general confusion. The food I ate didn’t completely mitigate it, I could concentrate on driving but anything beyond that was iffy, like navigation.
What really strikes me is that for the last 27 years I have not felt in a ‘sink’ situation because I never truly felt alone. My hubby is always, at the most, a phone call away and that is a very comforting knowledge to have. He has stood by me no matter what and I always know he will be on my side. Its a gift that I deeply appreciate. I can get myself out of strife but its nice knowing I do not have to do it alone.