Sunday, March 18, 2012

The New Normal--It's Not Just for Widows

I've read many books about widowhood. My bookshelf is overflowing with volumes that tell you how to adjust, how to be a good widow. Many of them point out that one has to adjust to a "new normal." You have to accept that life won't ever be the same, that things are diffferent now; your life continues but in a new way. Reading this, you may think I disagree. I don't. My life is the same but different, but over the six years I've been widowed that difference has become "normal."

It occurred to me the other day that not just widowhood, but every transition we go through, takes us to a new normality. Remember your first day in elementary school? I was so terrified, I threw up before we left the house. After a while, I grew to love school--I learned to read Dick and Jane, I learned to write my name (The first time I saw the lower case l in Thelma I was astounded. What happened to the line at the bottom that was supposed to go sideways)?

Remember when you started college? My parents dropped me off at my dorm, helped me unpack and left. Long after that, my mom said I had the same look on my face as our dog did when we dropped him off at the vet.I know, not very flattering but it was true. I was starting anew. Would I manage? Of course I did, and along with T.S. Eliot and Ralph Waldo Emerson, I learned a lot of new words I'd never heard in my house and did not dare use in front of my mother when I went home at Thanksgiving.

Remember when you were suddenly a married person? A mother? A mother (please let me forget those days)of a teenager? Every transition brings a new kind of life, a new kind of normal. The trnasition to widowhood wasn't one I'd have chosen--I figured Ralph would manage being widowed a lot better than I would--but that's what I got. I'm living with it, and I think--I hope--I'm doing a pretty good job.

What about you? What "new normals" have you faced and overcome?



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