In my post Accept Me As I Am (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-dS) I touched briefly on the concept of being normal. For most of my life, I’ve equated being normal with being healthy. I’m slowly beginning to untangle the Gordian Knot that is the connection between these two concepts in my mind. It’s rather a complex task, but one to which I’m committed. All I ever wanted was to be normal. I wish that was an exaggeration; it’s not. In school I was always a mile ahead without even trying. As an adult I discovered I have a previously undiagnosed hearing disability which has been deteriorating over time. I’ve always found relating to other people tiring; I became depressed and cynical at a young age. The dysfunction which permeated my home life as I grew up was something I blamed on myself. I learned early on that it was imperative to my survival that I construct an iron facade . I did it perhaps too well…
My defense mechanism of choice was over-achieving. As I got older, that alone wasn’t enough for me to survive. I discovered other methods of feeling in control such as not eating, cutting and exercise. Then along came V, discussed in Playing With Fire (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-bN). By the time I met E, I was very skilled at concealment & compartmentalization. It also helped that batterers typically target areas that can be covered by clothing. I was able to hide everything behind the “perfect child” persona I constructed for others. I’m not proud of the high level of skill I obtained as a manipulator, but it sure came in handy as a salesman! Anyway, it was as I matured in this state of mind that I learned to interchange normal with healthy. I looked around and saw normal people, living their normal lives. I didn’t detect any hint of the effort on their part that I put into every interaction, no matter how insignificant, just to appear normal. It was hardly a big leap to acknowledge that I was the common factor, that I must somehow deserve the pain. I’m not normal, I can’t fix it, it must be my fault.
Clearly this line of thinking isn’t rational, but how many rational teenagers do you know? I was different in so many ways, some of which I wasn’t even yet aware of. I had to compensate every day, in so many ways. Being normal was everything I wanted. I didn’t want to be brighter than average, I didn’t want to be interesting. All I wished for was a simple, shallow, average life. Even now, having gained some distance and perspective, I still yearn for that seductive vision of normal I’d constructed at times. Life is hard, marriage is hard, being healthy and making sound decisions is hard. However, I am healthy. I don’t mean to imply that I’m perfect, but I respect myself now. I don’t carry around the self-directed hatred and blame any longer. I don’t believe I deserve traumatic experiences. I try to avoid punishing myself for perceived failures. Now I just need a Dom to do that for me 😉
In all seriousness though, I think unravelling the connection between normal and healthy is an important step in accepting my need to submit. I also think this will help me understand how to responsibly indulge my masochistic side by setting safe limits, to protect myself both physically and psychologically. I’m not there yet, but I’m journeying in the direction of the life I want to live. My past no longer holds the power to determine my future.
If you’re wondering why the word normal was italicized throughout, this was done in an attempt to reflect the vicious tone the word carries in my mind. To me, normal truly is one of the worst words in my vocabulary. It has caused me so much pain over the years; the word itself is one I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid using whenever possible.