What is my “Why?” In other words, why do I bother to bare my soul in these blog posts? What does it matter? Who cares?
I started blogging when my son, Julian, died by suicide in 2010 at the age of 20. He was my only child. I was devastated. To say the least. I had to write. Because I had to hold onto him, and writing was my way.
But the need to write was about more than just recording his and my stories as they related to his life and death, and my life after his death. It was also about figuring out, making sense of, processing, understanding, and ultimately making peace with what had happened to both of us.
Beyond those two objectives – recording everything before the memories started to fade, and making meaning of this personal tragedy – I soon found myself writing because what I wrote seemed to strike a chord with others. There was an audience for whom my words resonated. What I wrote seemed to help.
After having lost my sense of identity and purpose (after all, what role does a childless mother play in the grand scheme of things?), I realized I’d stumbled upon a new one.
Then, in 2016, six years after the death of my son, I got the cancer diagnosis. And I wondered, “Seriously? How much more of this horror show can one person take?” Answer: apparently quite a bit.
Writing was again my method for moving and living through this new life crisis. In fact, many of the tools I used to survive my son’s death, turned out to be handy for surviving cancer and its treatment.
Today the life crises that matter to me personally are not quite so personal. They’re national (i.e., the challenge to democratic norms here in the United States), and global (i.e., climate change). What we used to take for granted, what we used to call “normal,” isn’t any more.
As I watched matters unfold on the news after the November 2016 election, there was a feeling of “something’s wrong here.” It felt familiar. In many ways, these “larger” national and global traumas had similarities to my personal traumas. Denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance…I found myself applying the stages of grief to our current events. It felt (and still feels) justifiable to do so.
We are all Leaning Into A New Normal. That is my “why?” Because it’s better to look closely and question, than run from the truth playing out in the headlines or in our petty, personal melodramas.
There has never been a greater need for community and communication. We prevail or perish together; no one is an island, after all.
I write to shine a light on the evidence that we are losing our “normal” (however you define that word). I’ll shine that light whether it’s a loss of normal that is intimately personal or a loss of normal that is breaking news that affects everyone. I write to engage in conversation about this, to share coping strategies, but most of all, to suggest there is always a way back to a new normal.
Which may turn out to be even better than the old one.