The New Normal

I’ve been really unsettled lately. Some of this is just life stuff. Grandparents die. Friends move away. Recovery hits a bump. Higher education necessitates debt. But overall, this is the most settled I’ve ever been.

Which is, in itself, unsettling.

Just how unsettling I wasn’t sure of until I was in my car driving this morning and praying for God to break me. I’ve prayed this prayer before – in fact, mere months before the relapse that took me down beginning in fall 2009. I told God I would do whatever it took to be whole “enough” to do missions work. He could break me down, pull me apart, reconfigure me as long as it meant being closer to Him at the end of the process. And break me He did.

The past five years have been some of the most terrifying, painful, and dismal of my life. Even knowing intellectually that God was pulling away from me the things I had used to glue myself together all these years, it was miserable. Even knowing that this pain was out of God’s love and desire to see me truly free, it brought me to utter despair, to wish for death instead of freedom. Even knowing it was an act of truest love, it felt like violence.

It felt like every rape, every assault, every abuse. Every touch turned bruise, every demeaning comment, every time I was told I was not enough. It felt like all of these all at once and I hated God for it.

So back to present day – why exactly am I praying for this to happen all over again, you might ask? I cannot even lie and say that I followed that request for brokenness with “because I want to be nearer to you and more Christ-like, God.” Not even a consideration (my spiritual life has been lackluster these days). I just thought, “God, you’ve got to break me because I don’t know how to do this.”

“This” is settled. Stable. Thriving.

The last time I was really stable and doing well was fifth grade. And I have been in a near-perpetual state of crisis since I was fourteen. Every day has been fight-or-flight. I haven’t had the opportunity to work on things like social skills or life skills like setting up gas and electric service or what to do when somebody runs into your car in the parking lot. I’ve just been trying to survive. And for the most part, doing a fairly decent job of just making it from one day to the next. Surviving.

But the little nuances of day-to-day were lost on me for nearly the past two decades. What do people do with their time if they’re not running obsessively or spending hours a week in therapy or staying out all night to avoid having to lie? What happens when I’m not in school any more? What the hell is this “career path” everyone keeps going on about? What do people talk to their friends about if not this treatment or that or this slip-up or that? What does a prayer look like when you’re not begging God to kill you?

So now, at 29, I’m having to figure these things out. And it’s HARD. I just bought a vacuum for the first time in my life. And was damned excited about it, too. I remember my reusable grocery bags about 50% of the time. I’ve had to deal with obnoxious neighbours without my usual self-flaggelation and let other people own their stuff. And I’m having to imagine life at 60, 70, 80. I’m having to dream.

At least once a day, I half-heartedly wish for one of my addictions to take over. I know how to do crisis. I’ve gotten good at crisis.

But what do I do when there are no fires to be put out?

I’m stable and that’s unsettling.

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The New Normal

  1. I can definitely see how this is unsettling! When one is used to chaos (internal or external) all of the time, it seems like something is missing or just not right when things are calm. I would bet, though, that this new ‘normal’ will be more fulfilling and exciting than the chaotic normal, so hopefully if you can hang in there and not fight the calm, it’ll be bliss! Keep hanging onto it!

  2. I relate to this SO MUCH. I don’t know how to be normal, or how to deal with normal life shit without making everything into this giant, devastating drama because that’s all I know how to cope with. I don’t know how to roll with the punches of everyday life… what do you do when you get a flat tire, or have a bug problem, or have noisy neighbors, or forget your wallet? Is it something worth getting upset about? Is it something to brush off?? I find it very hard to determine what is worth my attention or my anxiety when I am not using up all my attention on self-destruction.

  3. I don’t think 29 is far behind for figuring a lot of that stuff out. I found this sentence very normal: “I haven’t had the opportunity to work on things like social skills or life skills like setting up gas and electric service or what to do when somebody runs into your car in the parking lot.” All of that “life skills” stuff we just figure out as we go along. Just last month my air conditioning went out and I had to figure out what you do when you’re a homeowner and your air goes out. I’m just saying there’s always something to learn, I guess.
    As for what you do with all of your free time…I went through that when I finished grad school. I was like “you mean, I don’t have to study and write papers every night? what do other people do with all of that time?” So be prepared for a second wave of this feeling when you finish school. Now, I happily watch tv, read books, visit friends and volunteer.

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