The Daily Post suggest this as a prompt for a blog post a few days ago. Is being normal a good or bad thing?
I read their post whilst sat in the car waiting for something trivial. I was overwhelmed by a memory of my mother, in her bedroom, her in a towel just out of the shower, water dripping over her shoulders. I’m in my PJs, aged about 13, and I don’t remember what I did. I’m not even sure if I knew then. But there she’s stood, steam coming off her like a racehorse, her eyes flickering from side to side, violent and piercing. She is mid lecture, and suddenly, she screams, why can’t you just be normal?
My whole life, I’ve been desperate to be normal. I have always wanted to fit in, to be popular, to have no distinguishing factor that made me anything less than completely bland, tasteless and normal. I wanted to go to a parent’s evening where the teachers had nothing to say to fill the 5 minutes; I wanted to come home on a weekend and be able to report normal friendships, normal days and normal plans for the weekend. I was a constant letdown. My abnormality – I was the hormonal, stressy, just-less-than-suitably-intelligent child – stood out. My mother longed to be able to talk in the playground, to be able to say “oh yes, she got onto the lacrosse team too”. She longed to be able to hide that not only had I not got onto the team, she had a meeting with my PE teacher to discuss my reluctance to take my clothes off in the changing room.
The day my abnormality stung most prominently was the day I got my A level results. I did badly – not badly in comparison to the rest of the UK, but shockingly badly compared to my quaint little school. I was prepared for my failure – my darling boyfriend came with me, loving me and supporting me. We sorted it out. But when I got home, my mother, waiting at the door, threw me her phone. On the screen, text after text in the same, jovial format: AAB! AAA! ABB! Other parents, with their normal children, able to report their children’s successes in 3 little letters. My mother said (screamed…) ‘what am I meant to reply? It’s complicated?! You stupid girl’.
So, my first reaction was that normal was a good thing. What I would give, to be normal! How much easier my life would have been, had I just fitted the mould! But since I’ve been free of my childhood home and the ties it holds over me, since I’ve been able to make my own moulds, I wonder whether being ‘normal’ is over-rated after all?
I am not normal. I am abuse victim. Even the most extreme stats suggest 1 in 3 people are. I am in therapy. Sometimes I’m scared of the dark. I am obsessed with a plastic giraffe. I have whole days where leaving my bed feels impossible.
But being abnormal is incredibly freeing. The whole process of therapy has, in it’s broadest overtone, been about breaking the ties I try to bind myself into. It’s been about learning who I am – who I really am, and learning to accept that that is truly ok. It’s been about truly acknowledging that my childhood wasn’t the picture perfect image – but that I’m safe now. It’s been about accepting the highs and lows of my emotions, how the extremities effect me, but knowing that the people who care, love me anyway. It’s been about accepting all the abnormalities about me, that make me who I am: not who people wanted me to be.
I’m not sure, then, whether normal is a good or bad thing. But I am sure that normal isn’t all there is. There is a whole world out there, once you give your abnormalities a voice.