Tuesday, May 03, 2016

There's No New Normal

Year one in Bangkok is almost drawing to a close. A year has gone by and I've hardly written any of it down here. I have meant to do it. I have had time. I just haven't. 

For me, these days, this space is a space for the bigger picture and what I'm learning I guess. It's supposed to be more than just the what we did today. And the truth is... I'm only just now getting any grasp on the big picture. The truth is I have had no words for this yet. 

Our Thailand move has been so completely all over the map for us emotionally. It's near impossible to even put into words the profound impact it's had on each of us. 

Some of that impact has been blow your mind amazing. Some of it has been complete heartbreak. ALL of it has been drastic adjustment. Some of it has been opportunities beyond our imaginations.  A lot of it has been a feeling of isolation and being very, very far away from everything that feels safe to us. 

It's been highs we never could have hoped for and lows we couldn't know how to prepare for all in one year. 

There has been hardly a week of this year that has been in any way our normal. 

I have been waiting for our new normal. From the moment we moved here I have been working for it... striving for it even. Schedules and counseling the kids and getting us settled and planning and trying so hard to learn and figure this life out. 

And waiting. And waiting. And I would have a day or week or even three where it started to feel "normal" and then WHAMMO! 4 kids and 2 parents in a new land would strike again and NOT NORMAL!

I'd feel myself start to slip and crater. The first 6 months I did more cratering than I like to admit. And then I would tell myself to be patient and that normal would come. 

There have been so many moments of happiness and elation and amazement and gratitude this year. I would fly so high. And then the hard would hit and it was a different kind of hard. It was a hard so foreign to me. My village was across the world in an opposite time zone and I had no context for how to even begin to approach this new hard.  

And there was the guilt. "This life is amazing! I have NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT! My life is the life people dream about. It's a life I've dreamed about! What is wrong with me? Why can't I just be ok? Why is this so hard? Why can't I just feel happy? I'm such a wimp. This is ridiculous. Just ADJUST ALREADY." 

I was striving for peace... Feeling stressed about feeling stressed... Reaching for calm and straining for normal. 

And now as this first year comes to a close I think I may finally have something to say. 

In some seasons of our life I think our "new normal" is that THERE IS NO NORMAL. 

I think that in those seasons the stress about feeling stressed and the need to feel normal can be exceedingly worse than the stress itself. 

I've decided I'm not waiting for my new normal anymore. I truly don't know when it'll ever be back.. or if it will. I think I'm trying to accept that I don't have to have normal to be happy. I am working on embracing that a sense of normal isn't a requirement to be content. 

Today even... Today I was having a very good day. It was completely my new normal. Then I had several separate issues arise that would probably, ok definitely, have sent me hiding in my room crying last year. These are "I don't live in my country and so everything is harder" issues. As they arose I could feel my frustration try to sneak out. I could feel the thoughts start to spin... 

"OH MY WORD! When is it ever going to just be ok? When are my kids going to be ok? When will I know what to do? When will I know how to DO THIS? When will it feel safe or normal again?" 

And then I thought...

"It's ok. It's not my job to find normal. It's not my job to be ok. I can't make anyone else ok. It's not my job to make my kids be ok. It's my job to love and grow. We are all loving. We are all growing. This is exactly what it's supposed to be.. It's not supposed to be normal. My life is not supposed to be normal right now. There is no new normal." 

And I could feel the anxiety drain out of me. I could feel my joy come back. I don't have to be ok. I don't have to feel normal. We don't have to have it under control. And somehow that makes it easier. For us there is no new normal and that's right where we are supposed to be. 


Jennifer Weir said...

This is soo beautiful! I miss you and love you so much! Can't wait to hug your sweet faces this summer! Hold on, you are one of the most incredible woman I know, admire, and look up to. Be YOU and don't worry about being normal XOXO

Angel said...

Thank you. I love you too. It feels so good to know we get to visit soon! Yay!!!!

Dutch said...

Angel, you are the bravest person! When you are an old lady, you will have no regrets. You just say "yes" to all of your adventures. I love this about you! Normal, Shnormal. You go!