In my years as a divorce mediator, I watched many families go through the struggle to find a “new normal.” As with any process involving grief, the usual experience was messy.
One factor contributing to the mess is the need to reassemble the production line of family functioning. Whereas in a combined household, the eleven year old might be the tech wizard, Dad the czar of tax filings, and Mom the person who made sure oil changes always happened on time, in separate households, those functions have to be reassigned or at least rescheduled. The shock for Dad of having his oil light come on, or for Mom having to drop everything to get the taxes filed can be enormous.
Those speed bumps can feel as if they symbolize a failed marriage, a failed adulthood, enormous loss, and an unkind universe. And there is shock after shock for all involved. The rule of thumb most counselors apply is that a divorce is a three-year quest for a new normal that actually feels normal.
And all of the adjustments must be negotiated while Life Goes On. It’s draining and bewildering, and as I try to get beyond fourteen months of living pandemically, I’m struggling with a lot of the symptoms divorcing families deal with.
For a long time, the only day of the week I had to keep track of was Tuesday, which was barn/bank/grocery day. Other than that, the day hovered somewhere between Saturday (I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything in particular), and Workday (the writing, Grace. Do the writing…). I learned to keep extra masks in the car and purse. I added hand sanitizer to those locations are well.
Now the masks and hand-san are on auto-pilot, but I’m struggling to keep track of a busier calendar. Not a busy calendar, not compared to Before-Before, but busier than I can handle without focused effort now.
At this time last year, I didn’t have to fret over whether I owed distant family a visit, because I could not visit. I didn’t have to decide whether to attend writer’ conferences, because there weren’t any except on Zoom. I didn’t have to fret much about the political news, because the pandemic shoved most of that baloney into the wings.
I feel like my sat nav is busted, the maps I can find are out of date, and I haven’t driven this route in years. I’m finding some comfort in the things that have not changed–I tended to my flower gardening Then, I’m tending to to it now. I rode my horse Then, I’m riding him now. I wrote books Then… I’m trying to write books now, or at least work on book stuff, but this is not how I imagined After This is Over. It’s a lot messier, though tidying up the mess is a job I’m happy to have.
How are you doing? What’s helping? What’s a particular challenge? The first 20 people who comment get an ARC copy of Miss Delectable, because maybe that’s something I can do help.