I just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

I Just want to be normal

“I just want to be normal!” 

If only I had a dollar for every time I have said this, or any of its many variations, because I would be Rich, Rich, Rich – yes, Rich with a capital R!

My diaries are filled with this statement, along with “Why can’t I just be normal?”  “Why can’t I be like everyone else?” “If only I was normal!”

Guess what?  For what I had experienced in life, I was normal.  I was, and am, just like everyone else who has experienced some form of major trauma as a child.  The hell I have experienced while healing is the same hell others experience while they heal.  Yet, all the while, I just wanted to be normal.

What is ‘normal’ anyway?

For me, it was ‘normal’ for my father to have sex with me.  It’s just what he did.  It was ‘normal’ to never know from one minute to the next if there was a belting waiting for me when the next minute arrived.  It was ‘normal’ to not know from moment to moment if I was ‘loved’ or hated by my father.  It was ‘normal’ to show the world I was ‘normal’ according to society’s stereotypical standards, while at the same time asking myself why I couldn’t be ‘normal’.

The first time I remember verbalising that I was not normal was when I was 12.  My brother and I had been fighting, as we always did if ever we were in each other’s company for more than 30 seconds.  We were home alone and during the fight my brother had grabbed a large kitchen knife and started chasing me with it.  Eventually he caught me and knocked me to the ground.  As he held the knife to my throat I practically begged him to kill me.  I told him that he should do it because the world would be a better place without me because I wasn’t normal and should be in the ‘looney bin’ anyway.

He didn’t kill me.  In fact, telling him this had the opposite effect, and he helped me up off the ground and said, “No it wouldn’t Sis.”

My brother was 10 at the time.

It wasn’t until I started to understand what I experienced emotionally and psychologically was normal for people who live through child sexual abuse that I started to recognise how I continued verbally abusing myself.  I had fully taken on the role of abuser through my inner voice, telling myself I was useless, stupid, abnormal, crazy.  I came to believe, absolutely, that I was insane.

My only ‘insanity’ was the inability to process my trauma in a way that would release it, rather than relive it.

The process is long, slow, and unbelievably painful.  It cannot be expressed in words.  It is a very lonely road, because although you may be lucky enough to have a ‘support system’ unless those around you have experienced exactly what you have experienced, there is no way they can comprehend what you are going through.  Every moment of healing feels like you have to fight your way, kicking and screaming, to find even enough air to breathe, let alone find the strength to function in any ‘normal’ capacity.

For a while I didn’t want to be normal.  I craved complete loss of function.  I thought it an exceptionally cruel twist of fate that, although there were days when all I could manage was to pull the covers up and a pillow over my head, I was still able to hold down a job, be a mother, be a partner, and work on my healing all at the same time.  I envied people who could just withdraw from life completely.

In hindsight, I am glad I was able to keep going, even if it was in a reduced capacity.  I did withdraw from the world, but not completely.  I did want to die so very badly – but I didn’t.

So, am I ‘normal’?  According to some, I am not.  According to others, I am.  According to myself?  I don’t always conform to society’s norms, but I am not a complete deviate either – I am me – and for ‘me’ I am normal.

13 responses to “I just want to be normal

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences so powerfully.

  2. To me you sound normal. I think every thinking person, people who are reflective and introspective question and doubt themselves and sometimes hate what they see, what they think they are, especially if they have had trauma in their lives. But I think this questioning can be helpful–not the self-hate–but the doubting, because it leads us to imagine different options, better ways of being. “Working on your healing” you say–that’s a biggie. So many people won’t even admit they need healing.

    • I was one of those people living in denial for a very long time. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on which way you look at it, there came a time when I had to make a real decision between living or dying as I was no longer able to live in denial because there was always a constant inner battle between the truth and the fake public image. Choosing life meant accepting that I needed to heal and make a conscious commitment to the process, no matter how hard it was or how much it hurt. I found that I did have to question everything – about me, about my family, and about my life as I knew it. Some of the things I discovered felt like physical blows to my body, but it had to be done. The result, to date, is that I am happy and content with who and what I am.

  3. A wonderful article and great … thank you for sharing with us .. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for visiting and allowing me to discover your blog. On my very short visit I have already discovered so many things that have struck a chord with me. Thank you 🙂

  4. Kelly,
    My therapist always found creative ways of saying normal but we both knew the whole idea was to get me “back” to normal. I’m not sure how I was supposed to get back to somewhere I had never been Then I reached a point in therapy where my feelings and reactions fit more in the “normal” range of things. It was then that I realized normal is not all it is cracked up to be. In fact it’s kind of boring. So I am glad you are happy being you. Who you are makes you special, that is better than normal.

    • Hi Maggie,
      It’s not really going ‘back’ is it? I see it as more like arriving at a place where we become comfortable with ourselves, including all of our quirks and insecurities. The language and words we use can inadvertently cause blockages and obstacles in our paths – for many reasons going/getting ‘back’ to normal can have very negative connotations for those who have lived through abuse, including triggering anxiety and panic attacks. Most of us don’t know what ‘normal’ is and, as you said, it is somewhere they have never been. Also the thought of ‘going back’ can be terrifying – even though when someone says this to us we know consciously they do not mean it literally, our unconscious mind can zoom in on the words and then paralyse us with fear.
      I am much happier being ‘me’ than trying to conform to the many labels and boxes that can be applied to me by others 🙂

  5. Kelly there is no normal.
    We are all shaped by our past good and bad. What you need to do is turn the poison of your past into the medicine of your present and future. Use your experience to tell others and hopefully help stop these things from continuing to happen.
    Looks to me like you are doing that just keep it up and you’ll get to the best place possible for you.

    • I agree, there is no normal. One of the key lessons for me has been to stop striving for something that doesn’t exist and start embracing me as I am (with a few slight modifications through throwing away old ways of thinking etc). I have a friend whose favourite saying is, “It is what it is.” This is true for me – the past is what it is and there is nothing that I, or anyone else can do, to change it. All I can do is be mindful of my thoughts, feelings and actions in this very moment and ensure they align with who/what I am and want to be – that is the only standard of ‘normal’ that can be applied.

  6. Normalcy is totally overrated! Being weird, being a little messed up, having things we deal with makes us interesting. Unique. 🙂

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