October 15, 2014

The New Normal

The new normal is city living.  It is ambulances screaming by at odd hours of the day, food fumes wafting through my apartment window, walking down the street for my favorite ramen.  The new normal is ocean drives and city views.  The new normal is slightly unconventional and unpredictable (therefore simultaneously scary and exciting).  The new normal is facing my fears.

The new normal didn’t happen overnight.  Instead, it crept up unexpectedly, and later than I thought it would arrive.  But I knew it had arrived when I woke up one Wednesday three weeks ago and realized the sadness had finally almost disappeared.  At first I thought it was a fluke – a day with no tears, gut-wrenching guilt, and an urge to numb my emotions with sugar-laden carbs.  But I coasted through one day, and then a second day, and then a third day without any tears, and I realized that the dawn of a new life that I had intentionally pursued and crafted – even having lived the framework of my new life for several months - had finally arrived.  

It didn't hit me like a flood or even like a wave, like the high of new love; rather, it was a sense of elevated evenness that might not have otherwise felt so remarkable if it hadn't been contrasted against months of mourning and grief.  It felt like the old (new) me was back.  

Falmouth from causeway to Mackworth Island, Maine.
It was only upon the arrival of the new normal that I  realized how much my life had changed in less than a year, the result of huge life changes that I had made in merely six months.  I had not only made the decision to get divorced, but consequently had moved to a new city and changed office locations (albeit at the same company).  Throw in a family life crisis, and frankly, it was a lot.  

And though, minus the family crisis, it was not without careful consideration that I made these decisions voluntarily.  Just the same I could have never anticipated how altogether these changes would initially wreak such havoc on my emotional (and physical) well being.  One life change can be hugely stressful, but three is triply stressful, even if they are changes intended to improve your life in some way.  But that is life, and it is these kinds of experiences that ironically make our lives feel so rich.

So, when I woke up that morning, experiencing joy and gratitude simply from the sun that was filtering through my bedroom windows, things suddenly felt new, and simultaneously normal. The new normal had finally arrived. 

It goes without saying that life is different than it was a year ago. Having once lived in a house in the country, I now live in an apartment in a city.  Having been a country club member, I am now a card-carrying Planet Fitness member.  Having had established friendships and a life in a community in which I lived for nearly 10 years, I am now in a new community making new friends.  

At the same time, my essence is still the same: I still enjoy my same morning routine of working out and eating oat bran; I still relish in me time; my heart still beats for the same kinds of passions and pleasures.  And though there are aspects that I miss from the old normal, it is the possibilities - those intangibles - in the new normal that I could never attain while remaining in the old normal, that which ultimately guided my decision-making in the end. As hard as it is (and hell, it really was so hard), sometimes you have to say goodbye to the old to usher in the new.  

No comments: