Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I only look normal ...

 But then that statement begs the question:  What is normal?

Indeed.  What is normal?

Is normal just a setting on your dryer as author and speaker Patsy Claremont states?

Or is there really something called normal?

And, if so, two questions come to mind:  (1) who defines what is normal? and (2) how do I achieve normalcy?  I guess the answer to question #2 depends on the answer to Question #1.

After what, what is "normal" to a gangbanger is definitely not normal to a Yuppie - or a Boomer such as myself.

What is "normal" to a person raised in the GI Generation (1902-1926 - which included my mom and most of her generation - is definitely not normal to those born in Generation Y/Millennium (1981 and 2000).

Then there are personality types.  I'm an ESFJ.  Therefore, to me those I consider "normal" are those who exhibit my same personality traits.

I've been blessed - or challenged (whichever way you choose to look at it) - with a deranged mind.  A mind that thinks for itself.  A mind that doesn't follow the leader - unless it makes logical sense to this admittedly deranged mind.

Irreverence, spontaneity, wacky sense of humour - and more - all come as part of the package that is me.

Add creativity, caring, empathy and compassion.  Keep stirring.  Do not overheat or boil as the package that is me is tender, fragile.  Scarred by life's events, yet still vertical - more or less.

Then there's the emotional scarring caused by verbal abuse, bullying in the school system and later in different workplaces.  Complex PTSD.  Trauma and recovery from.  For me, going through all these things, my normal is totally different from what someone else would consider normal.

Sometimes my "normal", taken out of the context of the talents, strengths, weaknesses and scars that comprise who I am and how I look at and deal with situations, seems totally abnormal.

Some years ago, I was dealing with a lot of different challenges which all came to a head on one particular Sunday morning.  I'd previously had a hellish work situation which ended badly and had just discovered that I had PTSD.  I'd gone to a counsellor who I'd seen off and on for a number of years who became abusive and had just started therapy with a lot of fear and trepidation with another counsellor.  I was being bullied by one coworker at my new job situation on an ongoing basis which was causing a lot of distress.  To top it off, my three year old granddaughter's paternal grandmother had been taken to the hospital. with a pulmonary embolism and was not expected to live.  My granddaughter was there at the time and was transferred to our care as her parents were leaders on a youth retreat - somewhere.

In retrospect, this was a recipe for disaster.  In retrospect I should never have been in church that morning, let alone volunteering in the church library.  I was too fragile.  Too broken.  Too hurting.

I threw my Bible on the floor in the church library.  Someone was so appalled at my behaviour that she reported me to the pastor.

The next thing I knew, my pastor who was considered to be warm, compassion and fatherly was at my door.  Furious.  Wrath personified.  How could I do such a thing?  How could I?  He kept saying to me.  Forget the compassion.  Forget gentleness.  Forget - well forget everything except that he was totally appalled at my behaviour and came, not to help in a terrible situation or to offer compassion and help, but to condemn.  Which he did very well.

For years I struggled with that day and the pastor's visit and reaction. His anger.  His lack of compassion for a hurting person.

Then I picked up H. Norman Wright's book:  Helping the Hurting.  One chapter goes through trauma and how that affects people.  The most significant portion I read stated that for people like me who have been through trauma, the "barriers" in the brain that regulate our behaviour have been broken.  They're down.  Not operating.  In layman's terms that I could readily understand, Wright commented that the trauma victim is behaving in what they perceive as a normal manner in an abnormal situation (paraphrased).

My "normal" on that day, at that time, was viewed through the lenses of an abnormal situation.  With the barriers fully down.

So then, we go back to the original question:  what is normal?

My normal as a victim of complex PTSD, trauma, verbal abuse, etc. is as far different from the normal of someone who has never had to face these issues as is the normal for a paraplegic from a person who has never suffered a spinal cord injury and is confined to a wheelchair.  The difference is visibility.  One is visible; the other is not.

What then is normal?

I agree with Patsy Claremont:  normal is just a setting on your dryer.

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