“Normal”, it’s influenced by the people around us, our experiences in life, what we learn and believe in, our physical surroundings, etc.  We all have our own interpretation of what “normal” is.  When an introduction to disability or other significant life change occurs, your “normal” changes.  This is where the phrase “new normal” is inserted.  

Here’s a definition of “new normal”

“A current situation, social custom, etc., that is different from what has been experienced or done before but is expected to become usual or typical”:

For example:

“I am facing a “new normal” that includes a change in physical functioning, but I’m expected to become acclimated to it.”

Actually, my “normal” didn’t go away, it’ll always be part of me.  I had something happen to me that is new, something I had to learn about.  Just like I always have.  So, what is a “new normal”?  Does taking a class, getting a degree, eating something new, connecting to a new kind of music, culture, or other experience, turn our lives into a “new normal”?  What are your thoughts on this?

You’ve probably noticed that I am putting “normal” and “new normal” in quotation marks.  Well, I’m doing that because these words are up to our learned interpretations.

 One of my most significant struggles was finding my “new normal”.  Afterall, I had nothing to relate to what I was experiencing.  There were no triggers of a memory of having done that or seen that before.  I had to find a way of including myself in my “new world”. 

Part of that was learning how to incorporate my new experiences, I had to build my “new normal.”  Where I was and what I needed to do became my “new normal”, I had to study it.  But, isn’t this like taking a college class to learn about a subject?  Does that, then, constitute a “new normal”?

The first years of my disability adventure was spent wrestling between what I used to have and what I have now.  A never-ending boxing match between the two and was relentless and without a referee to end the round, I just kept fighting it.  Bruises, black eyes, and bloody nose.

However, when I began to pay attention to its moves, I began to win matches.  I started punching it into the corner of the ring beaten by my very own hands.

Sometimes I just froze, afraid to move and terrified of not moving.  I often felt as if I would forever be in a vicious circle of the before and the now.  My memories, my relationship with my “normal” world remained  on high alert all the time.  I would try to step back into my “normal”, but it was as if a force field left me weak, like kryptonite destroying any ability to recognize my “new normal”.

That little voice in my head, you know, the one we all have, would not shut up.  It just kept reminding me that I was different,  The voice reminded me that I could’ve done something different to have stopped this from happening to me.  It taunted me with its “you stupid girl, why didn’t you….”  It told me that I’d never do things I used to do again.  It told me that no one would come to my aid, I would be alone in my “new normal.” 

But, I found I had to get to know my “new normal”.  Yes, some things were absent, but only in my physical ability to do it, or the fear to try.  I set off to learn that each and every experience I’ve had remains a part of me, and they fit perfectly into developing my “new normal”.

All along, what I didn’t celebrate were all the monumental steps I took in my “new normal”, I was stuck in my “normal” past , or was I?   I figured out that I can develop my “new normal” anyway I want it to be because I’ve had a “normal” past.  

I’ve said it before, staying in the past will not get you anywhere.  Your “new normal” cannot thrive in the dark.  It can only grow when you open the door and be the beautiful person you are.

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  1. Cheryl Mahaffay says:

    I had to relearn so many things after my stroke which hit me before I was 70 years old. The most recent disappointment was that I wasn’t allowed to take a “walking to prevent falling “ class at the Senior Center in Monona because I use a rollator walker! Bummer!

    1. Cheryl Schiltz says:

      I’m sorry you experienced your disappointment, Cheryl. So much changes and relearning is difficult and always new. Take care, be well, and many blessings to you.

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