Will This ‘New Normal’ Ever Feel Normal Again?
The other day while watching TV, I heard the newscaster announce, “We’re in the ‘new normal’ folks, and everybody wants to get out and travel again!”
“Well, I don’t,” I thought, and just as quickly wondered, “Am I the only one who doesn’t feel comfortable yet to go out and explore the world in this so-called ‘new normal’?”
Everything I read and hear urges me to make up for lost time, bounce back, and act as if nothing happened. But my body and mind are telling me it’s OK to take my time. I’m still adjusting to this post-pandemic life and to living with ALS.
Both bring the challenge of constant change. Both feel like I’ve stepped into a parallel dimension in which things are the same but skewed and certainly not normal.
Change is everywhere
When I’m confronted by change, whether from a new ALS symptom or my grocery store’s new COVID-19 rule, I remind myself that the game board of life always rotates. Some situations are out of our control, we can’t stop them, and no amount of begging brings the old normal back again. We have to move on and make the best of our changed circumstances and new perspective.
Taking a page from the lessons taught using post-traumatic growth theory, I give myself time to reflect on what changed. I sit with my frustration, anger, confusion, and sadness. I refuse to let pandemic fatigue turn into pandemic burnout. I don’t ignore my emotions or stuff them away. Giving them attention will help them dissolve, so I can adjust to the ‘new normal.’
No bouncing back
I know I don’t have to rush, as adjusting takes time. It’s taken me 11 years to adjust to living with ALS, with many more adjustments lurking in my future. So, I give myself lots of space when dipping my toe into exploring this new post-pandemic world.
If you feel the same pressure, you’re not alone. Here’s what I’m doing, and I’m sure you can do it, too.
Slowly, I’m pushing back the mental walls of ALS and pandemic fatigue. I’m mingling in public spaces. I’m learning to project my voice, both with and without a face mask on. And I’m continuing to pursue projects that give me purpose.
When does this “new normal” begin to really feel normal again? It may never feel normal, and I’m OK with that. I’ll take each day as it comes and continue to try to live well while living with ALS.
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