Going through a crisis and living in survival mode go hand-in-hand. When trouble comes crashing into our lives we batten down the hatches and prepare to weather the storm. One of my dearest friends told me this past summer, “It would be impossible for you to be too gentle with yourself right now.” Others told me: “Show yourself grace. Cut out anything extra that will require energy and attention. Let go of your normal standard of living and just survive.” In fact, I wrote all about doing those very things in my Sad Mommy post a few weeks ago.
But there comes a day when the storm passes. When the waves aren’t quite so high and the wind is back to a gentle breeze. The boat has sustained some damage during the storm, so it’s not going to operate in exactly the same way it did before. It will still require extra effort and care to be fully repaired, but mostly it will go back to sailing the sea. In short, it will find itself in a new normal after the crisis has passed.
As I’ve reflected on this New Year and what some of my hopes are for 2017, I’ve found myself processing my new normal. As the grieving has turned into accepting and the accepting into healing, a new “me” has emerged. Some of the new that has developed in me from the storm are things I’m thankful for: trust, patience, contentment, hope, empathy, a deeper relationship with Jesus, and deeper relationships with my “tribe”. But I confess that not all of the changes that have come are good. Some of the things that were perfectly permissible and even necessary during the storm have created new patterns that really shouldn’t be around in my post-crisis world.
Re-learning to put others first probably tops that list. I’m so used to prioritizing my needs and accepting help, it can be difficult to turn outwards and serve others again. My friends have been so generous and gracious to me with their time, emotions, prayers, and energy — so much so I realize that I have no idea what is going on in many of their lives. I couldn’t have borne a lot of their troubles when my own crisis was raging, but now it’s time to change that. It’s time to create new habits of serving in church, praying for others, asking questions about others, finding ways to help others, being observant and aware of the troubles in my friend’s lives.
Oddly enough one of the other areas that has sustained the most damage during the storm is my domesticity. Sort of ironic considering the name of this blog and my original intentions for starting it. I’ve gone from stay-at-home mom to work-every-spare-second-at-home mom and my home life has definitely suffered for it. I’m working to find a balance between my 5 jobs and my full-time job as a single mom. And trying to refocus a bit and getting back into better cooking/eating habits. Finding routine again after living moment-to-moment is necessary and I think will lessen stress overall in my home.
While the storm has passed, this ship surely has sustained damage. So it’s ok to still be gentle and not expect as much as myself as before. It’s ok that I still get easily overwhelmed and that some days still feel sad or hard. But it’s also good to start challenging myself and moving forward with developing a new normal. It might not look exactly like before (in fact I sure hope it doesn’t!), but it shouldn’t look like survival mode. A new sort of thriving should come — and that probably won’t happen without a bit of effort on my part. I’m thankful for a new year, new mercies, and hopefully, a new normal.