“New normal,” it is a phrase being thrown around. Except, new normals aren’t so new, nor are they normal. What can one do?
“Life feels lonely.
The new normals of living fill up my days, my heart.”
No, it isn’t quarantine. For me, these words were written a couple years ago. Some of the loneliness; the isolation that is being written about, being felt currently by so many, is an old friend.
I was cleaning. I found an old journal. Those words struck me as I thumbed through the pages, remembering the moments that surrounded them.
I’ve known motherhood. I’ve now known motherhood for over 25 years. The ache, loneliness of motherhood for me… I see that in the words of those walking through quarantine. The disorientation, the loss of a sense of self, the expectations of all the things a “good” mother is and feeling like I fell short on any rubric of motherhood.
I’ve known religious life. (Now, back then I would be offended by anyone calling me religious. I would roll my eyes, in my heart judgement would spark as thoughts of “they don’t understand.” To me I wasn’t religious. I was faithful. I was “sold-out.” I was “all in.”) No, I was religious. I’ve also known expansion. I would journey away from the confines of organized religion. I would allow eyes to open, heart to comprehend, ears to hear that love and life and humanity are so much more then a measuring rod of standards arbitrarily applied depending on what theology one adhered towards. That journey of deconstructing my beliefs has been lonely. It has been some of the most isolating moments of my life. All of a sudden, deemed a heretic by people who had known me for decades, new normals were all I knew.
I’ve known weekly attendance in services for decades. Our lives revolved around church and ministry. I didn’t nor do I now miss weekly attendance, consuming meetings, and a life revolving around people whose expectations were that availability was 24/7. I do have much regret around so many of my choices during the era of life in Charismatic evangelicalism.
Emerging into contemplative spaces, held many new normals.
New normals aren’t so new, what ones have you known?
Were you once in your parent’s house?
Were you once single?
Were you once pregnant?
Were you once a parent of young children?
Are you a parent of adult children?
Were you once in a different career?
Were you once living a different lifestyle?
Were you once in a different relationship?
Were you once in a relationship with someone who has ceased to live?
New normals are common. While common, they are uncanny uniquely applied to each one of us, and we go through them numerous times in a lifetime. There is no escaping them, and perhaps the ways in which we used to distract through them are no longer available to us. So what NOW?
SO… what now?
There is a collective, global pause happening. A collective experience of ‘New Normals.” A collective experiencing of isolation. I want to share a few elements that helped me through some of my new normals and isolation, lonely moments. In the moments of need, in the moments of totally disruption; I learned to go simple.
- Breathe. It is PERIOD, number 1. Notice if you are holding your breath. That can be normal if one is in shock. It is shocking what we are going through, however these days have affected or not affected you it is shocking on a global reality. Shallow breathing, holding of breath, staggered breathing can all be what is happening as a result. Simply, take deep breaths. Breath in and breath out. REPEAT.
- Grant Permission. Permission to emote, to feel disoriented, to not feel. Permission to be confused, angry, sad. Permission to have a good day, a good moment, a second where you actually don’t fixate on all that is going on only then to realize you had such a moment and not know what to do. Permission. Period, that is it. Permission.
- Move. I do believe in the bringing together of breath and movement AND I don’t have a prescriptive way that that happens. Notice your body, sensation, lack of sensation and move. Walk, dance, run, swing, hop, jumping jacks… move, breathe, notice. REPEAT.
- Take notes. Some call this journaling, call it whatever you want. And do it however best fits your being/personality. Some it is taking pictures and for others it is words.
- Adopt a “mind your own business” mentality. This one took me a lot longer to find. AND.. it is the best to have. We all go through our “new normals” how we, each, go through them. Comparison is a killer. The sooner you can let that die, the better off you will be… it is no one else’s business how you orient to a new normal and what you do or don’t do. You do not need to defend yourself. This one is as important as number 1, and number 1 was BREATHE. This one is as crucial to life and living as number 1. Trust me…
It has been years since I wrote those first words, “life feels lonely.” The isolation of new normals was exhausting at times to navigate, is exhausting at times to navigate. It has also been amazing opportunity to find spaces of growth and life, or just plain permission to take a nap.