Thursday, September 11, 2014

Life Lag

Usk Castle, Usk, South Wales
The past few days since I got home from my trip I've been struggling to readjust to a 10 hour time difference. My sleep has been both in fits and spurts, and long and heavy, and at weird times. But when I woke up this morning after a solid nine hours my first thought was, ok, maybe I'm starting to catch up now, and can get back to normal pretty soon.

Ha! Normal. As if. I can hear you all thinking that, just as immediately as it hit me, what a ridiculous thought that was. What was I thinking? Normal? What the heck is that?

When did I last feel normal, I wondered next? And what was normal? Peace? Comfort? Being used to the way things are, being ok with the way things are? Feeling like the events on any given day were at least reasonably able to be anticipated? I looked it up. The dictionary definition says: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Right. Not much about my life right now seems standard, usual, typical, or expected. Instead, what is now "normal" is conforming to something totally and completely unexpected: the death of my husband.

It got me thinking about the different stages of my life, the choices I've made and the chapters I've lived, and realized that many of them were of my own design, or at the very least, usual, or expected. And I imagine, they are probably much the same for many of us. For a long time, likely "normal" for us was our childhood life. Then one day, we went off on our own - to college, or our own apartment, maybe a new job. This, then, became our new normal.

At another time, we met our loves; we dated, fell in love, got married, maybe moved again, maybe changed careers, had families. This again became a new normal we chose, and even cherished.
Those new normals didn't seem to take very long to get used to. They were happy new normals. Normals we wanted. Normals we felt comfortable with. Expected normals. 

The difference with this new reality is that I did not choose it, or expect it. When our loves perished, our lives became strange. Surreal. Aside from the horror, loneliness and heartache, our daily routines became stressed...difficult...and that feeling of normalcy? Of comfort? Nowhere to be found.

As a widow, I have struggled to reclaim any sense of "usual". Some feeling of calm, and peace. Of being used to the way things are, and being ok with it. Some days, it seems impossible. Others, I feel like I am indeed making inroads towards a new future. A work in progress. 

I miss Mike terribly. I still have memory triggers and heart clenches every day. But I had a lovely trip, and am pleasantly surprised to be building new memories too, upon the ruins of that happy, old normal. I spoke to my grief therapist about these mixed emotions yesterday, and my uncertainty about my future. She said: that's ok. It's totally to be expected to feel this way, and it's ok to be ok with that. It's kind of just what I needed to hear.

It's taking awhile to get used to the time change. I guess it will also take awhile to get used to this new normal too - whatever that may end up being.


  1. Thats a beautiful castle! You will get used or at least familiar to your 'new' normal one day I hope. Beautiful castles and travel on new roads and lands you have never been. After all, we are all now travelling in lands we have never been and never wished for but here we are. all the best! RK

  2. Such very true words.....I remember a grief session I attended where they said we have to find a new "normal"......almost 7 yrs. later I'm still looking. So glad we have this place to share with each other. Great writing, Stephanie.

    1. So far all I can share is that my own new reality doesn't seem normal yet...but it exists nonetheless. Strange new world but as you said - at least we have each other. Thank you so much for coming here and commenting.

  3. I am really enjoying your posts, they have been making me think. This one made me think about normal, and in a sense, I have a new normal. I live in the same place, I take my kids to school and do all of the usual stuff, but there is a huge hole in my life and my heart is broken. It's been three years. I was fortunate in that I will not have to move or work for a year or so more. I have been able to stabilize my kids' lives without further disruption. That has pretty much been my last three years. The same normal routines with all the pain and trauma of four humans mixed in. I hate this normal. Sometimes I want to throw myself on the floor in a big tantrum I hate it so much. It all is usual, typical and expected, and for the most part, I hate it. I love my kids, but being a housewife without a husband sucks. Your post made me think, I need a new normal. I hope that made sense...

    1. Thank you,'s such an agonizing road we're on. Your children are blessed to have you thinking about their well-being and stability in the face of such trauma. I totally get what you mean about running the house without the sucks totally. Lots of hugs to you.

  4. Hello, our new normal..... Yep that's us!! Do I want to screeeeem sometimes?? This is normal? After building my entire life around one man 34 yrs.. My new norm .... Hmmm. Ok I'm good..hang in there to all of u's a seasonnnn.. This too shall passss.. Hmmm.. Ok I'm good.