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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Someday I will live in Normal, Indiana.

I had a long conversation recently in which I made the statement, "Sometimes I just want to live life like a normal person."

I've said this many times. Before I'm allowed to express what I mean, the listening person invariably makes some disparaging comment about "normal", or launches into the excruciatingly long lecture which reiterates the following points in several different ways, none of which mean anything to me:
1. No one is normal.
2. All people have things in their lives that make them feel "different".
3. One should celebrate being unique.
4. I'm no different from anyone else.
By the time the four points have been restated at least six times, I'm no longer listening and sincerely regretting my attempt to share something personal. There is only one person I will interrupt in such a situation, and that's Darrin. I usually say, "You didn't let me finish again! I'm trying to tell you something, so please be quiet and let me talk." And he apologizes, lets me explain what I mean and I feel better.

I keep hoping someday others I care about will let me tell them why this is important to me, as well, but it seems they are sincerely in love with the "No one is normal" lecture, and not particularly interested in my opinion on the matter. 

But as this is my blog, no one can interrupt or lecture me here. So, I will now explain why I say,  "Sometimes I just want to live life like a normal person." (except my return key keeps sticking and I have to keep backing up when I hit it--very annoying)

1. I would like to enter a restroom without feeling panicky, trying to finish as quickly as possible, having to stop and breathe slowly--thus thwarting the hurrying part, and feeling compelled to wash my hands fifty times and use an entire bottle of hand sanitizer.
2. I would like to never feel afraid of my teenage sons who love me and would never hurt me. 
3. I would like to go to a physical exam without having flashbacks, shaking, and spending the next three hours crying.
4. I would like to not bleed when I have sex with my husband--which occurs frequently enough to remind me that my body doesn't always recognize the difference between loving physical expression and being raped.
5. I would like to allow friends (male or female) to have their arm draped across the back of my chair in a church meeting, and enjoy that closeness, not worry about whether or not I'll be able to get away quickly should the arm come into contact with my shoulders.
6. I would like to ride elevators with more than one other person without feeling I might throw up.
7. I would like cry because I'm sad or happy--not simply because I'm tired and/or need a stress release.
8. I would like to be able to chat online with people who love me for longer than fifteen minutes before I start wondering how that person would like to harm me in some way. 
9. I would like to be able to look at the naked male form without feeling attacked, nauseous, afraid beyond reason, and immeasurably sad. I would like to be able to use Tolkien Boy's words, "It's just a body," and mean them.
10. I would like to stop feeling the need to find safe places and recognize that I am always safe and have been for many years.
11. I would like to shake hands and feel casual about it. 
12. I would like to touch someones skin and feel it a pleasure and a privilege, not shrink from it and feel afraid.

While I recognize that there are some who will identify with the things I've listed, these are the items I view as "normal", by which I mean the majority of people don't really think about doing them, nor do they attach any sort of major importance to them.

I understand that each person has things that make them unique. I'm not trying to be like everyone else. I just wish to enjoy certain healthy human interactions and everyday occurrences without attaching unnecessary significance to them. I don't think that's asking too much, nor do I think that will change the qualities which make me singularly Samantha.

I sat by Boo in Relief Society on Sunday. She asked me if I minded if she scratched my back, which in girl language means a very nice caress across the shoulders, and middle and upper back. Some interesting things happened in that moment:
1. I said it was okay. I never say that. I'm not sure why I did--but probably because it was Boo, and I trust her. 
2. My feelings went haywire, because I was amazed at myself for allowing a person other than Darrin or my kids to touch me in that way, I was happy that I wasn't afraid or panicking, I was incredibly sad that I've spent so much of my life missing out on that part of human connection--and touch is extremely important to girls. They do it all the time--except--I don't.
3. I felt almost normal.

So now you know. And should I ever mention the wanting-to-be-normal thing to you, don't worry about making certain I understand no one is really normal--I do understand that. And please withhold the lecture, because even though no one loves the sound of your voice more than I do, I'd rather hear you talk about the things that make you sad or bring you joy, or maybe we can just discuss the process of photosynthesis, or name the stars, or talk about how much we like chocolate.

You know, things normal people do...


  1. I really do hope this is a good year for you.Thank you for letting me be a part of it.I want to say something profound and wise,like-"once you get all the dirt out of the wound,it will feel alot better",but when I have heard that from seemingly caring people,I want to smack them in the face.
    please continue to share.
    ps-I'm not really that fussed on chocolate.

  2. I wish you could have those things. And I'm sure I've done the "no one's normal" thing to you, for which I apologize.

  3. Thanks Uncle Arthur...however, unless you develop deep feelings about really good chocolate, I'm not sure we can ever be really good friends.

    Ambrosia--If you have, we know each other well enough that I would know your thoughts were for good--not belittling what I felt, and if I didn't like it, I'd probably tell you. :)