What is normal? Have you had a normal day? A normal dinner? A normal phone call? How about a normal interaction with a friend or family member? Is there such a thing as ‘normal?’
We could talk all day about normal. Normal in psychology, chemistry, math, biology, medicine. Conforming to a standard. Average. None of these, however, touch the truth of what normal means to me.
Many people never have to think about being normal. For me, normal is not my natural state. Growing up, I didn’t know how I felt wasn’t normal so it was my normal. I don’t think I was depressed as a child. The depression, it seems to me, came as I grew older and began to realize my normal was different from the world’s. For years, afterwards, I didn’t know what normal meant. It wasn’t what I felt, how I lived, so it must be how the rest of the world felt and lived. Problem was, I couldn’t fit together the puzzle pieces to understand how the rest of the world lived.
I’m older now. It took me thirty years of fighting to come to where I now stand. Fighting the manic highs where anything I did seemed right, my mind gunning a thousand miles per hour and fighting the lows where I could barely make myself move out of one chair and to another. Years where I was terrified of everything, where I had to stop watching movies and TV. My emotions were so uncontrolled that if I watched the wrong thing, I was depressed for days. Years where I was afraid to go alone to anywhere I’d never been.
This couldn’t be normal. My normal, yes, but the worlds? No way, I thought, no way. What I didn’t realize was there was no normal. The world wasn’t created to be normal. We trap ourselves into pretending we are living normal lives just like I pretended I was okay and able to function in the world. In the end, it’s all pretending.
And then one day, about six or so months ago, I was half-way through my day at work when it struck me. I felt ‘normal.’ I felt like all those people I’d envied over the years who could step into any situation and be themselves. I’d never really been myself. When I started my journey, I didn’t even know I had a self.
And I know what you are going to say. Those normal people probably weren’t, or didn’t, necessarily feel normal, but to me they were normal. They were what I’d longed to be for so long
I am having more and more of those normal days. That’s not to say that every day is a normal day. It isn’t. I still have days when I close in on myself, protect myself from a world I still don’t always understand. But more days than not I do feel normal. I can laugh and talk to people. I can open myself up enough to realize I am somebody under the cover I’d been holding all these years. I can joke. I can tease. I can be the me I always felt deep inside.
So ‘normal’….. yes or no? I still know there is no real normal. People are too varied and too often broken for there to be a norm. Regardless, I have found my ‘normal’ and I’m happy. And that, most days, is enough.