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New Normal

That phrase keeps coming around — and it is a little bit tricky. Of course we want to “normalize” — feel steady and on reliable ground. We want to not live with the seasick feeling of dips and swells of uncertainty that has kept us up these past weeks. We would very much like everything to be settling down into a so-called normal.

Many of us are going along feeling like we’re mostly doing just that. We’re managing doing our work from awkward homemade spaces and continuing to find things to cook. We’re managing our medication and getting used to telehealth doctor visits and kids constantly underfoot or the opposite — enforced loneliness. And we keep imagining that this life is “normal” now.

Only it is not. It is still frightening and outcomes are unknown. Under the surface even if we are coping most of the time, it is anything but normal.

Take a breath and let that sink in.

As adaptable as we are — as we have to be when we’re dealing with endless rounds of flares and pain and new medications and unforeseen problems — this is a whole different level of adapting.

It takes immense energy every day. And the tricky part is that we have become used to it, so we are not always aware of how much it is running in the background, taking our attention, focus, and good humor, and mostly drawing down our resilience. It’s now a quiet background hum, like a computer program that never shuts down and just keeps sucking up power.

So when you wonder: Why am I so tired? Why can’t I get anything done? I’m staring into space. I can’t finish that project. And even right now my symptoms are somewhat under control, so why can’t I _______?

Stop the judgment. We are still living through a pandemic. We are still separated from daily life and people we love and the world is very uncertain. This is a transition space — not a normal one.

Let yourself be however you are. Move at a slow pace and do what gives you pleasure. I am sure there are plenty of things you “have” to do in your life. Don’t add to that list by expecting yourself to be amazingly productive. Rest when you can, as much as you can. Remind yourself that this is an extraordinary time — still.

It takes a lot of energy and grit to manage ourselves every day. Give yourself credit for that.

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