Aftershocks are now part of normal life in Christchurch,
writes ONE News reporter Joy Reid.
Everyone has a definition of normal. But the chances are, if you're in Christchurch that definition is VERY different to those around the rest of the country.
A trauma counsellor told me that our brains re-programme the definition of normal as a coping mechanism to deal with the stress around us. I've found that to definitely be the case.
So I thought I'd give you a snapshot of what normal looks like down here.
There's the obvious few. Such as aftershocks which you never get used to, but are now part of normal life.
Faith in the ground staying put has disappeared, and today's jolts definitely did not help the situation.
Rubble's not hard to find either, and you don't have to go far to find streets of wonkey homes propped up with wood. Cordons are as common as letterboxes.
But it's far from just what you see on tv.
The emotional toll is huge. It's normal to see emotion pour out of people and stress is something we live with now, and this is why.
Uninterrupted sleep is a luxury, as is flushing the toilet (if it's yellow let it mellow etc) and spare a thought for the tens of thousands of families still using chemical toilets, or even worse, portaloos in the street.
And after today I can imagine they'll be using them for even longer. How anyone can get used to that in a first world country is beyond comprehension.
Everywhere you drive, you dodge various holes and humps in the road.
After the quake, the council said there were more than 34,000 road defects, so no matter how fast the contractors work, it's going to be a long time before you'll have a smooth ride again. Many roads are still closed meaning detours to get across town.
And some roads are so badly damaged that everytime a bus or truck goes past is severely shakes the houses bordering the road, that in itself feels like another quake.
Workplaces have changed.
For many, like us TVNZers, we're in a new and much smaller building, in a new part of town, but thousands are still working from home, or even worse... have suddenly lost their jobs.
Entering a tall building is well, it takes gutts, and taking a lift, takes even more courage. As soon as you enter a room, you'll find most Cantabrians will scour it for the safest "shake" spot.
Asking themselves ... if there's a shake is it quicker to dive under that desk?? Or into that doorframe? - And that's a normal thought-process!
I've met people living with HUGE swamps in their backyard. And yes that's since the quakes. Random springs popped out of the ground and are spilling out up to 9000 litres of water a day into their properties.
That's become normal for them... but only so they don't fall apart everytime they arrive home.
Then there's the impact on socialising. Only two of the city's malls are open. Hundreds of restaurants disappeared in the red zone, so finding a table for a night out can be a real challenge.
The nightlife has moved to the suburbs, so unless you arrive early, the chances are you'll be lining up in the cold for a while to get into the club.
Many sporting codes have lost their grounds too, so 'Saturday sport' for some has become 'Sunday Sport'. And getting a team together is far from easy.
But it's not all bad. It's now perfectly normal to talk with strangers in the street about their quake experiences, or as is the case of late, their EQC experiences.
Superficial conversations seem to be a thing of the past, friendships have a new depth.
I guess it's hard for people outside the city to comprehend what our "normal" life looks like in Christchuch, but it is just that for us.
Normal, and while it'll be years before we're back to pre-quake status, life is moving forward, and it's only by our brains re-programming normal that many will survive the stress of the rebuilding years.
Read more Joy Reid opinion here.
Do you agree with Joy Reid? Share your thoughts on the messageboard below.
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