Saturday, February 15, 2014

Finding the New Normal

We're almost there - all the "wisdom" I can impart to you about life after loss.  I hope that all of you who have stuck with me through all of it will migrate with me over to my new blog, Burgh-a-Story.  It does give me a fresh start in many ways to talk about lighter topics and have some fun.  But I'm the same person and the same writer as I am here, so some of the themes I've concentrated on here will seep over there - just with some more sports.  Yet, that's sort of counter to the whole point of this post:  we're not the same as we were before and our lives are not either, so the challenge is to make peace with that.  And that's the complexity of what I've found, really.  I still love the things I've always loved, for the most part, but my perceptions are different, and I react differently to the same things than I've done before.  I've made the analogy before that we're like china that was broken and then glued back together.  I used that at the time to explain we're easier to break once more, but it's also about not quite being as smooth as we once were.  At least that's true for me.  But, it's not just about the inner you, it's about the outer trappings too.  Everything seems different when you look around you.

As I walked the dogs around the block yesterday for the first time in several days (which was probably not super smart - I hit the cold air and realized my face was on fire and I was sweating, so I guess the flu bug hasn't left yet), it occurred to me that the biggest thing the move to Pittsburgh did for me was give me the chance to fold adjusting to life post-loss to adjusting to a whole new environment.  Everything around me was different, so I could concentrate on learning where to buy beer and how to get home from Heinz Field (sounds odd now, but that was not so easy at first) and it was less about how to reconcile a new life in old digs.  I wonder how anyone does it in the same house, actually.  Remember those people who lived across from me who lost their son?  They made major changes to their house, and you wonder now if it was less about updating an older building than it was making it different for the same reason some of us move away.  Maybe they didn't even know that's why they did it - they just felt compelled to make changes.  I never saw our old house after a lot of the remodeling was done, but Marissa did and we've talked about it since.  She's told me it still seemed off somehow and wasn't a pleasant place to be (I'm paraphrasing).  I think for us, the big difference is that so much had gone horribly wrong while we were all in that house that there was just no saving it for us.  I don't care what you updated or how, but it would always be the same walls that housed so much fear, hate, illness and finally grief that it would have kept us trapped in those emotions for much, much longer.  Which is seriously too bad because it was a wonderful house.  In some ways it was my dream house - big lot, pool, that stunning chandelier in the living room with its pine planked ceiling that is like a scene out of Game of Thrones.

Now I live in a much smaller, plainer little house with no pool and a chandelier I was planning on replacing until I found out it was original to the house and then felt compelled to keep it.  It's okay, but it's certainly not Game of Thrones worthy.  And yet, I'm so much happier here.  Of course, there are other reasons for that, and for those, you should read my new blog (hint, hint).

Yet, I've wandered off the mark a bit.  This isn't about moving or houses.  It's about realizing and accepting that things won't ever go back to the way they were before.  Maybe that seems like the most inane and obvious comment anyone can make.  But, I can tell you, I spent a lot of the time in the early months wondering how long it would be before things got back to "normal".  I used that word a lot, like a touchstone.  Therefore, it was important for me to accept that there wasn't any going back, there was only going forward, and that path would look different.  I had to learn to be okay with that.  For me, in order to accept that, it was easier to shake the whole scene up as dramatically as I could without moving to a whole other country (although in some ways, it felt like I had at times).  Many people won't be able to or want to, I know, and maybe, for them, comfort is in being around the things they've always known.  I can see how that would be.  But, for all of us, with the important caveat that anything I say is only as good as my personal experience, the thing we must accept before we can fully carry on is the fact that there is no going back to normal.  If you're looking for life to return to how it was before, then you'll never stop looking.  Once you can wrap your head around and, way more importantly, make peace with what your life is now you can settle into a new normal.

How you do that is different for you than it was for me.  A lot of trial and error probably.  I got lucky.  I got Pittsburgh.  And that's a new normal I can learn to live with.

No comments:

Post a Comment