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.

 


 


12 comments:

  1. There's a lot of wisdom in your post, Debbie. I think pretty well everyone has their challenges and battles, in one form or another. That shapes us but I don't think it has to define us necessarily. Meg:)

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    1. Thank you Meg and you are right. :) Some of my friends have been through unimaginable abuse and yet they choose to break that cycle and be amazing parents to their own children.

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  2. I agree with Meg; never let Fibro be your identity. I am a nurse and have had many patient with different diseases, including Fibro. It's amazing how some 'become' their disease and others just 'happen' to have that disease. I think it makes a big difference in the 'normalcy' of their lives. I'm sure it can be discouraging when you have your really bad days, but just remember there are better days ahead, too. ((hugs))

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    1. Hi Penny, that is how I try to live my life. On the bad days, I do try to remember that there are better days to come and that I really am blessed in so many ways. This disease, along with others, can be a royal pain to live with (literally), but it is not fatal, and for that I am very grateful!

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  3. I enjoyed this post. It has such a ring of truth to it, because---it IS true. None of us have the perfect life we wish we had. At least here on earth, we never will. It is very easy for me (and I've succumbed over the years at times) to look at others' lives and feel they have it easier than I do. Sometimes, I still think that's true, because we have made choices that bring a lot of chaos into our lives. But, when we take the time to reflect, we would not make any other choice! It has been a roller coaster to bring 8 children into our lives, who all have had a rocky start, who all have had at least some exposure to drugs and alcohol while in the womb, who all struggle in some way! The day to day living is hard, and has lasted many, many years. The choices some of them have made are heartbreaking. I'm sure I still have heart break ahead, as life continues. It's hard to pour your life and heart into someone who jumps off the deep end...such a loss of hopes and dreams. Then, you add in the outside influences--and the stress and chaos some people and situations cause, health issues, etc. and....wow, just wow!!! For me, the only way I have coped is by strengthening my relationship with my Heavenly Father--the only one who is big enough to handle it all. He has blessed me with a wonderful husband, supportive family members (there again though--some are, and some aren't), and always enough material things and mental fortitude to get through the hard things. Life is a process. I decided a long time ago that I did not want to miss the joy of my life hoping and wishing for a different life. I just want to try my best, and hopefully, make a difference. I think it's all any of us can do.

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    1. HI Becky, thank you for sharing more of your own personal story here. You and your husband amaze me with how loving, caring and giving of yourselves you are to sacrifice so much to try and give others the best chance at happiness and the feeling of security and belonging that you can. I feel for you because I know that everyone has to make their own choices in life and in some cases, no matter how much love and time you pour into some people's lives, the damage done earlier in life due to choices that their biological parents made, abuse suffered in childhood, mental health issues, drug or alcohol abuse and/or just their own bad judgement, is something that unfortunately no amount of love can overcome. I personally know the heartbreak that can bring and the toll it takes on everyone who loves them. (((((HUGS))))) and know that you and your family are in my prayers.

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  4. Well said.And absolutely what I needed this morning.
    SJ

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    1. Hi SJ :) Big hugs to you my friend!

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  5. Hey Deb, great post. We all have trials and if you think someone has a perfect life think again. Life is hard it teaches us to become more Christ like, when we choose to do what is right rather than what we really want to do. It teaches us patience. Boy do I hate learning about patience.

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    1. Kim, your response made me giggle with your remark about hating to learn patience. ;) I'm right there with you on that one! :)

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  6. A very thought provoking post, Debbie. There is no standard, one-size-fits-all normal, I think. Just as many different normals as there are individuals. The important thing is accepting our own normal, even if it is different than the others' normal.

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