Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Normal is just a Setting on the Dryer
The other day I was lamenting to my husband that I just wanted a "normal" life. I shared this with a friend who also said she wanted a "normal" life too. Hmmm...so I shared it with another friend and she also wanted a "normal" life. All of us, whom I shared this with, have gone through some really tough situations throughout our lives so wanting a "normal" life should not be a surprise right? Then it hit me... there is no such thing as a normal life because everyone has their own challenges, triumphs, good times and bad. Everyone and every life is unique therefore there is no "normal". Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
I have friends that seemed to have idyllic childhoods. Oh how I envied them at the time. Their families got along, they took nice vacations, did well in school, etc. From the outside, I'm sure people assumed the same about me. Only a few people had even a clue as to the tip of the iceberg about what I was actually dealing with. As for my friends, I only knew the tip of the iceberg as to what some of them were actually dealing with also. Years and years later things are coming out about knock down drag out fights within their homes, substance abuse, being beaten and abused, being told that if they did not conform to what their parents expected of them that they would be disowned, etc.. Some of my friends no longer have contact with their families for the above reasons. I am blessed that I never experienced the things that they did and that I now have a healthy relationship with my parents.
When I moved all the way across the ocean from my family to go to college at the tender age of 18, my past experiences haunted me and caused me to act out in ways that I wish I could change. On one hand, I was a very caring and compassionate person who was there for my friends because I am extremely loyal to those I love. On the other hand, I was one messed up and angry young woman who felt like no decent man would ever accept and love me because of my past. I put myself in situations at times where my self loathing could have gotten me killed. It took me a long time to realize that I did deserve to be happy and to be cherished by someone and that I could allow myself to be vulnerable and let my guard down with a man. It was a bumpy and painful road getting to that point though. Thank you God for sending me my Jeff. His unconditional love, kindness, compassion and understanding have helped me to continue to heal (and yes, it is still an ongoing process and I am still "triggered" at times by sounds and the memories of past childhood sexual abuse). I am now finding out that many of my friends have also experienced similar things and my heart breaks for them.
When I married my Jeff, I had no idea all the struggles that we would go through over the years. I don't think anyone does. You think that life is going to be a bed of roses when you marry the person that you love with all your heart. In my mind I thought that the joining of both our sides of our families would lead to one big happy family where everyone got along and was supportive of one another. Ha, I was so naive. While there were some blips with my parents as we all adjusted to our new roles, we worked them through because we have that mutual love and understanding and can honestly agree to disagree on things. Plus, we all wanted to get along. It was important to ALL of us. I have to say, my parents, along with my brothers, and my sweet SIL Christie, are amazing, loving and so supportive of us and us of them. No matter what is going on, we are there for one another through thick and thin. My sister and I are also close and supportive of each other even though it has been 35 years since we have actually been in the same place together due to her living in Tahiti and me living here in Washington state and some legal matters because of her VISA mess up (she is a citizen of French Polynesia). I could have never imagined that there would be people on my husband's side of the family that would set out to destroy our marriage, our children's relationships with us, us as individuals and others within his side of the family. For years I thought all the family drama was pretty unique to us...nope. Again, finding out more and more that many people I know have also experienced similar situations. This does not bring me comfort because I know the pain all too well that they are also going through.
As I struggled with my health and tried to find answers, I felt frustrated and alone at times. It took 4 years of appointments, different medications that did not work, tears, feeling rotten, and having it affect every single area of my life including my marriage and my relationship with my children because I no longer was the person that I used to be and could not do things with them as much. I finally got a diagnoses of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, just to be told there was nothing that my doctors could do to help me. 😪 It took years of research on my own to find supplements that would help me cope with this and have less "bad days". Meanwhile, some of my symptoms got worse over time and God brought another doctor into our lives who recognized that all the symptoms and diagnoses from my years of illnesses, test results and my ongoing and worsening pain and symptoms pointed to a diagnoses of having Fibromyalgia also, something that was not well known about within my local medical community. As I shared about my struggles and diagnoses, I have found that more and more people have these diseases and that we can be supportive of one another and share information about what does and does not help each of us. These diseases are truly unique to each individual with the same core symptoms but many other varying symptoms as well and what treatment may work for one individual does nothing or may make things worse for another. I have made friends, both in person and online that have these and other autoimmune diseases and we all long to be "normal" again. I have come to realize that in this case "normal" is defined as healthy and free from these debilitating diseases in our minds.
After all these years, it has finally occurred to me that there is no such thing as a normal life. Everyone is unique and we each face our own challenges. We all have and continue to deal with things in our lives that have molded us into who we are today. There are so many variables in life, heck in each day. All we can do is to make choices to live the best life that we can. We can choose to surround ourselves with positive people and walk away from many of the negative people. We can choose to take better care of ourselves by eating healthier, resting when we need to and to give ourselves grace and not be consumed by guilt, shame, etc.. We can choose to do more things that lift us up and bring us joy. So I can finally let go of the illusion of having a normal life... there is no such thing, each is unique.