This Is Not Normal

This Is Not Normal

Back in November 2016, John Oliver hosted an episode of Last Week Tonight focusing on the election of Donald Trump. Towards the end of the episode, John Oliver gave his viewers some apt advice: with the relative chaos of the election, people would learn to adopt that chaos as being the "status quo". Oliver advised her viewers, whether it be written on a sticky note or tattooed in an awkward place, to remind himself constantly that

This is not normal.

In the past year and a half, this country has seen a revolving door policy when it comes to White House staff (and several other positions still remain unfilled). Our leadership has demonstrated a love of totalitarian leadership, an obsession with public image and random social media declarations, and an overall contempt for the office and institutions that have been paramount in this country, and many (like me) have to remind ourselves that...

This is not normal.

My heart often breaks when I'm dealing with my mother and her struggles with government bureaucracy. Multiple phone calls which lead to frustrating missed connections. Dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP benefits being lost and miraculously regained. I try to remain stoic when my mom half-says, half-sobs, "I think they're really trying to kill me," and I try to remember that "No one should ever have to hear this from their parent" and that ...

This is not normal.

Fighting off what one friend calls the "brain weasels of depression" and working through issues of self-esteem because I'm one of those 20% of people in intergenerational households as well as part of the "sandwich generation" of caregivers (Since I don't have children, I don't quite qualify). Wanting to be more available to my friends and colleagues but unable due to time and personal commitments. Lightly resenting well-intentioned people who believe that I am "being strong" and that what I'm doing is "noble", but also aware that those people would, behind closed doors, mock this video while defending a television personality's overt racism, and realizing...


This is not normal

Like many others, I've had to take stock of my relationships. I've had to let go of friends who feel that I'm not "doing enough" professionally - or in my efforts to care for Mom. Dealing with people who not only support the toxic, dysfunctional results of our government but who will easily and comfortably fall into the familiar footfalls of fascism. Having - and accepting - the uneasy feeling that many of my female friends - and some friends of color - will never feel totally safe or comfortable around me. Not because I'm not "one of them", but because too many of "them" have done wrong. And part of me wants to complain:

This is not normal!

Accepting that the time for civility is over - so often, I've been one of the "if only we can get them to empathize" and realizing...that's privilege. The other side would rather be cruel and cowardly from behind the keyboard rather than face the reality of our current political climate. Mourning the fact that there no longer the safety of seemingly "neutral" ground, and that current times call for the courage and willingness to face social and political malevolence head on and declare...

This is not normal.

Realizing that much of my life includes finding the energy to resist drifting into apathy...to stay active. To use my anger and frustration as fuel for moving forward. Pushing myself forward, giving myself time and self-care and staying compassionate towards others. Supporting and letting friends support me while removing toxic relationships. Staying optimistic yet realistic about what may happen in the future. Grateful for my current relationships while wishing they could be deeper, more connected. Mourning a past sense of connectedness and feeling like some wounds are too deep to ever heal. And realizing...

This is not normal...but it's becoming normal.

And I don't want this to ever become normal. 

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