Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Accepting New Normal

Today, the beginning of Spring, much of the US swelters in a heat wave.  Here in Oregon, we are having a new Ice Age. It's been several years since we've had this much snow...and to have it in March just isn't right. I mean it's REALLY NOT RIGHT.

I was completely snowed in this morning, and without internet, phone or tv. Cell coverage was spotty, only allowing for the occasional text  message to get through. Plus I have a horrible runny nose, itchy eyes and cough.  I'm not admitting to it being a cold, but it bears a certain resemblance to a cold.

So, as I have been sitting here, feeling a wee bit sorry for myself, I've been contemplating what I call my "new normal."  New normal is what happens to you after (or while you are in the midst) of a major shift in your entire life.  For me, it began with the death of my mother, or more precisely, a year before when she broke her legs and we started on the long journey home.  In these past 15 months, everything that I had thought was "normal" has been upended, from my role as her daughter and caregiver to finances, to becoming involved in a criminal investigation (not my own!) to spiritual shifts to...well, nothing that I had considered "normal" a year and a half ago now is the same. 

I've been bucking and snorting at the enforced changes. I don't like any of them, thank you very much.  I want to go back to the way things were...when I knew what normal was and could plan for my future. 

As if any of us can truly plan our future.  We might as well try to plan the past.

Which brings me back to "new normal." I have come to the conclusion (insert much bucking and snorting) that it comes down to one of two choices:  live or die.  I either have to accept what looks like will be normal from now and continue living...or fight it and die, either figuratively or literally.  Them's the only choices available.  Live or die. 

So what does "new normal" feel like?  For starters, it's very alone.  For my entire life, I had my mother with me and now I am truly and utter alone.  (Nefer and Basti would beg to differ, but feline companionship isn't quite the same thing as human.)

For another, it's scary. I never used to fear adventures or insecurity, but now everything from financial issues to fallen tree limbs from the snow feels frightening. The future, which used to seem rather far away, now skitters around the edges of my consciousness like a very nervous rabbit being chased by a starving coyote. It's easy to slip into full-on panic mode about tomorrow and the day after and the day after that.  In my imagining I'm living in a cardboard box, sleeping on a urine-stained mattress, eating cat food out of a dented can while dying from cancer because I can't afford treatment. (See Anxiety Girl.)

Finally, "new normal" doesn't feel very normal. Which makes the aloneness and the scariness of it even harder to accept. But it is what it is, as a friend tells me, and until I can come to grips with the fact that my new normal contains these elements, I'm probably going to be creating more of both the aloneness and the scariness. 

So today, as the snow starts to fall again (in March!!!), I am taking a few deep breaths and telling myself that what is now my life contain both both solitude and fear.  But I'm also telling myself that perhaps, just perhaps, once I embrace these two and invite them to warm themselves by the fire, that some other parts of "new normal" will also manifest themselves.

Like peace. 

Or, who knows, maybe even hope.

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