Ever have those days where you desperately want to be normal? And you feel like you’re so different, and you can’t have that life you’ve always wanted?
Those days can hit you like a sledgehammer. They can knock you down from whatever level of coping you were on, into a deep dark abyss of despair.
I feel it too.
The yearning to be normal or “just like everyone else” is actually painful. It hurts somewhere so deep down in my core that I can’t quite locate it, let alone articulate it. It can physically hurt. It’s like a massive sinkhole opens up somewhere inside of me, and everything that I am and wished to be, all collapses in there together. Into the deep dark pit where a monster sits and generates self-defeating thoughts. Where there is no light. It feels like there is no hope.
Feeding the hole-monster with more thoughts never ends well, yet that is what I do. It makes me think of all the things I wanted; all the dreams I had for my life. It makes me acutely aware of the ways in which I am different, and the paths in life I will never tread.
It flashes my reality back at me in neon lights. You are different. You can’t have ‘that’ life.
I find myself in the bottom of the sinkhole, at the “it’s not fair” pity party, very quickly, as if I have a VIP pass or backdoor access. It’s a familiar place. These days I only visit it every now and then; as a teenager, I practically lived there. Back then I was the host of the party, and the invitees were only those who agreed how badly life sucked and how unfair it is to be me; to be us.
After a while, I realise that the pity party isn’t even fun! And hanging around the monster is plain terrifying. In fact, the whole environment is toxic and if I’m not careful, I will drown in my own self-pity and tears while the monster watches on. I can’t stay there if I am to survive. But what is worth surviving for? More pain? More illness?
Yes. For that.
But also for so much more.
For laughter, for hugs, for puppies and newborn babies. For flowers, friends and opportunities to capture them on camera. For family; for love.
For excitement, for joy; for feeling. For healing.
For whatever life has in store for me – with my pain, with my illnesses – and whatever I choose to grab with two hands and go after.
It’s mine for the taking.
And so with two hands, I desperately grasp at the rope hanging down towards me. With all my strength, I haul myself up the rope and out of the pit. I saved myself. I got myself out of the pit of despair, away from that gnarly monster and back onto firm ground. Back to normality.
Normality? What is normal anyway?
This is my normal. And that’s OK.
I will be OK… until the next time I’m hit with the sledgehammer and take a sojourn to visit the hole-monster, but strictly for a short time only. And each time I will pull myself back out. Each time I rise from the pit more resilient. And I go in search of my path once more. And then I will be OK, again. And again, and again.
My path may be different… but there are many paths towards the same destination. I get to choose.
And so do you.
In the choice between two paths, ‘that’ life or my own, I choose my own.
How about you? Which do you choose?
Footnote: Normal is such a comparative term. And we know that comparison is the thief of joy. So let’s not measure ourselves by how normal or different we are, but by what we choose to make of ourselves and our lives.
If you’re really hurting right now, you might like to read this letter.