A bad day in Normaldom. A remarkable woman that I was honored to teach yoga to recently shared that phrase with me. I’ve had her as a student a few times and she has intrigued me. She often looks serious but is very capable of bringing her playful side out.
Sometimes students stay after class to chat. When a student has come to class a few times, I will ask a few, what I hope are non-intrusive questions, to get to know them a little better. Conversations and even friendships have blossomed in this way.
Given my experience in the infertility world, I don’t bring up children. I don’t ask about them unless I know that there are children. In other words, I leave it up to whomever I’m speaking to, to bring them up.
And so she mentioned them and we started chatting. The room emptied out, got a little darker and we kept talking. She was glad to have been in class because it was a "bad day in Normaldom". Hmmm. One of those defining moments. Do you ask? Don’t you ask? On my way to meet a friend to work out, is there time for this conversation? Ah, well, dive in, that comment being too intriguing to skip.
I don’t want to tell her personal story here; I don’t have her permission to tell her story here. I do feel like I can explain the concept of Normaldom though. We all know what normal is. Getting up every morning, having your morning routine, going about your day, whether work or play or something in between. Small, typical problems arise, but nothing that feels crisis-like, just a normal day. Life is like that, sometimes for long stretches of time, just plain normal. Highs and lows that we all adjust to. Unexpected expenses, surprise bonuses. Normal.
Normaldom. Most of us have lived there, at least some of the time.
We all have bad, aggravating days in Normaldom. Something breaks, an important appointment gets cancelled, an unexpected twelve hundred dollar car bill, the alarm doesn’t go off and we’re late and so on.
And then there’s a whole other realm that doesn’t even remotely look like or feel like Normaldom. When you know you’re in another sphere of life. It’s those crises that create an atmosphere that is impossible to see past and it changes what you see and how you see everything that comes up in your day. Remember "The Twilight Zone"? Where everything is off kilter and just not quite right, not one or two things, but everything.
Twilight zone happens in times of extreme, extended crisis. Where a bad day in Normaldom would be a welcome relief but feels like a distant memory. It may be a severe illness in the family; it may be a death, loss of a job, unwelcome but necessary move. Or it may be infertility.
Twilight zone is when you live with everything way less than normal, but somehow it has become normal because it’s so extended and it permeates every day.
Twilight zone has hit me a few times in my life. When my father died young and unexpectedly, life changed permanently and until the changes settled, I lived in twilight zone.
Trying to conceive and being in fertility treatment for six years was twilight zone. My routines were dictated by doctor’s appointments, consultations, procedures, blood draws, ultrasounds and more. The roller coaster of infertility became normal. I felt crazy all of the time. Except when I didn’t. This was not Normaldom, this was twilight zone. Up, down and everything between the two. I became a person I would not have recognized in Normaldom. Angry, resourceful, strong, resilient, resentful, needy, independent, cynical and more. Even if those were characteristics of me in Normaldom, in twilight zone they morphed into a new version.
My yoga friend felt guilty for having a bad day in Normaldom. After all, it wasn’t twilight zone, nothing was desperately wrong, why was she struggling so much with just the simple things in life that go wrong? She was happy to be living in Normaldom and cherished the fact that she was not in the twilight zone, so why was she upset?
Why indeed. Why not, is perhaps a better question. But for those of us who straddle Normaldom and the twilight zone, perhaps it’s a fair question. We are able to see the difference between the two, know when a crisis is a crisis and when it’s not. And still we’re upset when we’re in Normaldom, with the twilight zone alive in our minds and hearts. Why?
I believe its part of the human condition. Things come up, some smaller than others and it can still be upsetting. I do also believe that when you’ve lived in and through the twilight zone that you permanently have a different way to put things in perspective. And that maybe when upsetting things happen in Normaldom, they are just slightly less upsetting and perhaps more fleeting. My yoga friend was aware of being in Normaldom, appreciated being there and, I hope, allowed herself to simply feel what she felt and let it go.
Maybe that’s the take away message? To feel our feelings and let them pass as they’re ready? Whether in the twilight zone or in Normaldom.