Getting back to normal..

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Bells, Jan 12, 2021 at 5:01 AM.

  1. Bells Staff Member

    We've all heard the phrase..

    "Getting back to normal"

    And we have been hearing it a lot over the last year or so.

    'Once it's under control, we can get back to normal'.. and so on and so forth..

    What does it mean, exactly?

    Pre COVID normal? Is that even possible?

    Or will it be a new normal that we are trying to create in the ashes of this past year?

    It's a phrase that is meant to bring comfort. Designed to tell others that everything will be alright.

    I'll give you a personal example.

    My father passed away in June of last year. After being his carer and nurse in the last few years of his life as he slowly and painfully succumbed to cancer, as well as caring for my mother as she battled cancer as well, which caused dementia resulting in her having to be placed in a nursing home after a fall, and my own battles with the dreaded disease, sexual assault and a violent home invasion, people started telling me 'you can get back to normal'..

    And I'm not going to lie.

    I have spent months trying to figure out what "getting back to normal" actually means for me. It's not bringing me comfort. It's causing an extreme level of stress for me. Because everything that I have known in my life, the staple figures of my life are disappearing. My father and my mother's memory and personality and who she is, have either gone or are in the process of leaving. I can't get back to that.

    What is my normal?

    Is it the one that I am now trying to live and survive without my father in my life and with my mother rapidly losing herself in a nursing home (and I am not going to lie, it is something that brings me to my knees on almost a daily basis when no one can see or hear me weep and scream internally), while trying to raise two boys who are now taller than I am?

    It's not something I'm getting back to. It's something new. Something completely foreign to me. To me, it's something I am moving toward and I have absolutely no idea of what it will be.

    In a general sense, during COVID, what does 'getting back to normal' even mean?

    The day we can have large gatherings without feeling concerned that the guy sitting a few rows ahead of us is coughing and feeling a sense of rage that he isn't wearing a damn mask, as one example?

    Will we ever get back to that?

    So, out of curiousity, what does "getting back to normal" mean to you?
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  3. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Nothing. It just means people hope to recover whet they've been used to.
    After a small mishap, like a car accident or snowstorm, most of 'normal' resumes; there are only minor changes to cope with, and we can usually incorporate those adjustments into our new 'normal', so that it feels familiar.
    Big upheavals, like war, pandemic, earthquake or economic depression change the life of the people involved irrevocably, in so many ways that the post-upheaval life is not at all familiar. Most people adapt - what choice is there? And, once stability is achieved, the new way things are becomes 'normal'.
    In relatively stable societies/periods with no major upheavals, change happens gradually, so that the 'normal' of 50 years ago seems odd, if not outlandish - and we haven't even noticed any abnormality.
    If the pandemic ends - either through adaptation or vaccination - without destroying all of our agencies and economies, some aspects of what we have been used to will resume. Certainly, social interaction will - it's innate: humans can't help being social. Many kinds of relations will be changed forever. The specific precautions will be dropped and forgotten in a very short time - our masks will go the way of the gas masks every child in England had to carry on a string around his neck through the blitz. Other things, like the value of work, may be regarded quite differently.
    How people adapt will depend on what conditions prevail and who the leaders are. We have no way of knowing yet.
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  5. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Constant change is normal.

    Having a life long hobby makes thinks seem more regular.

    Trying to appreciate the world is getting better helps ... Like today I watched a video on the Bore War...just terrible but we are just I little better after a century of minor improvements...and you go back further where wars were continual and slavery was normal for all victims in war.
    I just think how much better it has become and with the net things will get a lot better..IMO.

    I miss my father but now I think how lucky we both were to be so close for all those years. My Mum was taken by cancer and it is hard not to think about those last terrible months but I can see her saying " dont think about the bad things or it will spoil your dinner" and I laugh to myself and get it together as she would want.

    A personal selfish hobby is mandatory so you can drop out involving yourself completely in your particular interest.

    I hope your ear is getting better.

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  7. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    I know this isn't helpful--and it's likely pretty annoying, after hearing it so many times--but I am sorry for your losses. I know that dealing with illnesses/deaths that are prolonged is especially stressful and difficult--it's like you've got all the time in the world to ruminate over all the things you should or shouldn't have done. And you obsess over the ways that you, perhaps, could have made things easier for the suffering parties. And then, just like that, it's gone. You've got nothing left but "things," and you don't even know what to do with said things--should you leave them out, as a painful reminder, or stow them away so that you can, at least, maintain the pretense of "processing" everything?

    My partner's father died a couple of years back, after living several years with dementia. It's awful having this person who doesn't even recognize you at times imprinted upon your memory, and having that regularly intrude upon you favored memories.

    For whatever reasons, I'm not really "wired" to form strong emotional attachments to other humans. What I should feel, what other people feel, towards the most significant people in their lives, I only seem capable of feeling for the non-human sorts, dogs mainly, in my life--"words" and such are somewhat less significant with respect to them. I only say this because I worry about coming across as insincere, and I've never really known how to properly express sympathy, verbally or otherwise, to other people. But, to be honest, I've always felt some sort of "connection" to you far more than to many people in my life, both IRL and online, so... coming across as sincere matters somewhat more here, is what I am trying to say, I guess.

    I haven't performed music before an audience for a few years. Frankly, I just got sick and tired of having to deal with people. I've also lived out in the sticks for the past few years--for the most part, I can pretty much avoid dealing with people almost entirely for weeks or months on end. (I used to do this--go out into the sticks--for a few weeks, or even months, every year, in order to "reset" myself and hone my "coping" and "dealing" with people skills, but now it's become a (semi?) permanent way of life.)

    In the past, music had always been my "excuse," one might say, for socializing with other people. I'm not the sort of person who can just visit with people, without having some sort of practical reason to get together.

    Just prior all this COVID shit, I had actually planned on returning to such--touring and performing for an audience, that is. Likewise, a label in the UK had contacted me about putting together a compilation LP of one of my previous projects. That actually comes out in March, but with better timing, it certainly would have been helpful for facilitating my plans--it's always nice to have fresh merch. Their insistence upon manufacturing the, much despised by audiophiles, colored vinyl bugs me somewhat, but I can live with it. (According to their research and decades of experience, colored vinyl sells far better than proper black vinyl.)

    I vastly prefer the "performing for people" aspect and the traveling to the obligatory "socialization" that comes with, to be honest, but I do somewhat miss actually talking to people, I suppose.

    So for me, that is largely what I conceive as "getting back to normal," and such will likely come to fruition, it'll just be postponed somewhat longer than I had hoped.
    Bells likes this.
  8. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Back to normal (to me) just means Trump is gone, maybe the government isn't the story of the day every day and maybe you won't die if you go to the grocery store (Covid being pretty much under control) and that most people are back to work and that you can go to the climbing gym, in my case, and maybe hang out with others in the summer just like in the past.

    Regarding parents aging, dying, things changing, that's all tough and is part of getting older. My father died when I was 3 and my mother dealt with cancer for 15 years and died when I was about 40. So I had to deal with a lot of that at a younger age than many. I was an only child as well.

    I lived on the other side of the country from my Mother so even though it was tough it wasn't as tough as what you (Bells) are dealing with. It's more emotionally draining the more often you are faced with those reminders.

    One thing that is true (IMO) is that once family members are gone and there is nothing more you can do about's time to move on in the sense that it's not healthy to dwell on those things too much. At that point you can either chose to be "happy" or not. Look for the things that make you happy in life and focus on that.

    Remember the good things but otherwise try to live in the present. If problems come up that you can fix then fix them, otherwise focus on the positive.
  9. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I'm sorry for your loss, Bells.

    I'd say ''normal'' might be a departure from the uneasiness I feel on an almost daily basis. It's not like anyone would be able to tell I'm feeling uneasy, it's under the surface. I'm almost used to it, now. In talking with friends about these feelings, they can identify with what I'm saying, as well. This hard-to-explain fog that has been lurking around the past eight months, it's heavier on some days, lighter on others. Taking intermittent ''news fasts'' helps with that, though. On the flip side, I've become less complaining and more grateful, as life can change at a moment's notice. So, that is hopefully a ''new normal'' that will stick with me, going forward.
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Bells, this sounds absolutely awful for you. Do the boys help, or are they part of the problem? They sound like possibly the key to getting to a new equilibrium - if they are good chaps. My son was in fact a tower of strength when my wife died, even though he was only 13 and had just started at a new school.

    But it will, one hopes, be a new equilibrium rather than getting "back" to anything from before.
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    "you can never go home again"
  12. Bells Staff Member

    My boys have been brilliant.

    I don't think I would have come out of it with any part of my sanity intact if it was not for them. I had converted a part of my house as an annex for my parents several years ago. The day after my father passed away, I walked into their house and saw just how in the last year of my father's life, their lovely space had been converted into something so medicinal.. So foreign and yet so familiar and I kind of snapped and started removing everything. I wanted it gone. My kids and their father.. We basically did it together. By the time I hit my dad's clothes, the many many soft cotton pants and t-shirts he wore because his skin was burning all the time - I threw them out. And the entire time, I told them about their grandfather and about what it was like to grow up with him as my dad. The crazy stories, the even crazier things he did and made me do.. I wanted them to know him as I had known him. Most of their life, he had been battling cancer. And it was cathartic. I kept many things of course. But I got rid of every single thing that reminded me of his illness. And for about 3 months, I went in there and opened all the doors and windows in the morning and closed them at night, but never lingered. I felt haunted in that space. And then one day, after much therapy, I went back in there, cleared the rest out, I repainted, got new furniture.. Dragged us all through Ikea while my kids tried to tell all and sundry that I was torturing them, to redo the whole thing.

    Our normal now is just getting through the days. Loudly. The kids have kind of adopted the annex part of the house. It's now their zone and that's fine. We shared a large space for so long and now they get their own space and when their friends come over, they have privacy within my hearing zone, so to speak. That part of the house that had been full if illness for so long, is now more often than not full of teenage boys and their frankly smelly feet.. My god!

    Where before there was constant moaning of pain, crying, sounds of vomiting, etc, there's now sounds of rambunctious teens laughing at each other.

    I guess in a way that this is what it is now. I never really had this before. We were always kind of living on tenterhooks, always prepared to have to dash to the hospital for one reason or another and always quiet so that we could hear if the folks needed anything.

    Now everything is loud.
    Jeeves likes this.
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Then the boys will be what gets you through, just as my son did for me, by giving me a duty, a goal, a daily routine and a raison d'etre, until the clouds started to lift. I know what you mean about the medicalising of the house too. We had all sorts of stuff, from plastic beakers with drinking spouts on, so she could still have sips of tea, to a huge medical fridge with bags of stuff for intravenous feeding, delivered every week. I still have not got rid of all her clothes (a good parisienne has lots of stylish gear) - though a lot went to a charity that helps poor women dress well for job interviews, which she would have approved of.
  14. Bells Staff Member

    I gave the majority to charity. There were several things I kept. Things that meant a lot to him and to my mother and I. The clothes he wore towards the end.. That he was sick in, I had to throw away. Well, the hospital had to dispose of them. Which was hard for me. I kept the suit he wore when he married my mother, including the handmade silk shirt.. So discoloured now. And his favourite shirt, that still smells like him. And his favourite hat, that he wore everywhere. And several other things.. But the majority went to charity. At the end, he'd lost so much weight, I was buying his clothes in the teenage boys section.. He used to joke that he was a hip looking dying dude.

    Today my normal consisted of setting up stacks of low shelves and started filling their old living space with plants that I had been propagating and splitting, as their living room has such good lighting. My kids whine that my jungle is spreading. And it is.

    We had those drinking cups too..
    exchemist likes this.

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