Normal, something elusive to me. I have held it in my hands, briefly, only to watch it’s shimmering light spill through my fingers. “If only I was normal”, “Why can’t I be normal?”, the battle cry from my childhood has echoed into most of my adult years too. But why?
“Normal: according with, constituting, or not deviating from the norm, rule or principle. conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern. occurring naturally. ” Merriam Webster’s dictionary
Seems like that ought to be easy enough, but it wasn’t for me. At least that’s how I felt. As a child, I felt like an outsider in my family. I was the kid everyone tried to change. I was too sensitive, too fat, too mouthy, too quiet, too emotional, too everything. My brother was the Golden Child. I thought so too, and he was. He was adorable and funny and I loved him with all of my heart. I knew my parents knew how to accept and love a child, I watched them do so with my brother. I figured it out in my child’s mind, there must be something really wrong with me. So started my quest for normal.
It’s not normal to strive for normal though. in the definition it states: ‘occurring normally’, so chasing normal was abnormal. What was I really chasing though? Did I really want to be like everyone else? I thought so then. I tried to be normal, I think I succeeded at times but it wasn’t genuine. I had been taught that my thoughts and emotions were not normal and needed to change. Why did I feel them and think them then? I complied, I became a people pleaser. I became quiet, I learned to numb my emotions and dreams. I settled for normal jobs I didn’t enjoy and normal lives that whithered my soul. No matter how normal I became, it never stopped bad things from happening to me, marriages crumbled, my youngest son moved with his father and my oldest son died. “Why can’t I be normal!” screamed in my head, but now in an adult voice laced with shame. Guilt came to play, and it didn’t play fair.
My last hope for normal died. Now what? How do you move on from here? Since my life was in ashes, it was easy enough to dismantle old beliefs. I had to go on and I had no idea who I was anymore or how to do that. I played with guilt for a while but walked away from it. It hurt too much and I had had enough of pain. What was I really looking for in normal? Love. Acceptance. Belonging.
In Grief groups, “A New Normal” was a catch phrase for finding our way after losing a child. I never had “Normal” but this “New Normal” really sucked. I hated it. I wanted my “Not Normal” back! After years of self excavation and grief, the man I had been dating, proposed. The prospect of “Normal” was tantalizing. I felt hope for my life, I accepted. Pretty quickly I realized, “Normal” was never going to be me. So, going back to what I figured out I was really looking for in normal, I went back to the beginning,,,ME.
Love. Acceptance. Belonging. Was I giving these things to myself? No. I couldn’t love myself if I didn’t accept myself, and I would belong until I did. But you have to know yourself in order to do any of it. Who am I under all of the people pleasing crap? I started by feeling my emotions and thinking my thoughts without judgment. That last part, without judgment, is the biggie. Truth, another biggie. As much as I wanted to point fingers and place blame for the way things had turned out for me, I knew I was wasting time, precious time that I wasn’t willing to lose, as I went looking for me. I was no longer desperate for normal, but I was desperate to find Me. My purpose. A reason to be. Funny thing though, when I found myself, purpose came naturally. I said, “I AM” to myself in a meditation one day and I burst out sobbing. Great wells of grief and heartbreak broke out of my chest. I cried not only for the son I lost, but for the me I had lost. In my mind I held them both and rocked them as we all cried. My heart broke in empathy, for my child, for the child me, and for the me who needed to go on without them. I AM. Nothing else needs to be. No one has ever been me, no one else will ever be me, but right now, I AM. I belong. You belong. We belong. There is such perfection in the uniqueness of You, in the uniqueness of me. We each bring something different to this world that no one else can. I believe that we are all sparks of God. God wanted to experience the world in the way only you can, living a life only you can, so he can feel what it feels like to be You. He has given you the strengths and flaws you need to live out this adventure. He gave you the thoughts and emotions to figure it all out, so that you can see it’s just You, and Me, He and She, Them and Us,,,which make WE. Everyone you see, is just one way God wanted to feel the world. The pains, the joys, the humility and the proud. There is no wrong and there is no Normal. There is just this Life, beautiful and horrible,,,and Ours.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I don’t judge myself anymore and I think you probably feel this way too sometimes and I want you to know that my Truth is your Truth and it’s not normal but it’s YOU. Perfect.