Thursday, June 18, 2015

What's 'normal'?

"Normal" - it has always been something I wasn’t.  I would tell people 'I'm not normal'.

I'm not normal.  I'm crazy.  My brain is broken.  I'm odd.  Weird.  A dork.

I also used to say, long long ago, that I was stupid.

People will believe what you tell them about yourself.

Worse?  YOU start believing what you're telling yourself.  It becomes exactly who you are.

When I met Jeff I had been working on NOT saying I was stupid for a few years.  I had created a new online name at that time -  SmartChick[number] and that's how he met me, and that’s the name he still calls me sometimes :)  I AM smart.  But it was also the opposite of STUPID and as far away from comfortable as I could get really.  It took YEARS for me to re-write that program in my head.  I had to go out of my comfort zone and actively say I’m smart!’ when that made me sort of sweat. [I would say I was stupid as a way to be non-threatening, as a way to get ahead of the jokes about me because I was still so nervous and stressed I would walk into walls (not kidding) or spill things on myself, and while not technically STUPID it was my way of telling people 'I KNOW']

I would NEVER ever tell people that I'm stupid at this point in my life.  Never.  I had to really, really work on that.  Stop myself.  Change my online name.  BECOME 'smart chick'.  I changed my perception of myself, and changed it permanently.  It's so normal to me now that I cannot even THINK of a time I would say I was stupid.  It's such a mean thing to say about anyone - why would I call my own self such a name?  

In the last year I have also stopped saying 'I'm broken'.  I don't LEAD with my child abuse any longer.  I am who I am.  I may explain that I have social anxiety once in a while, because that's far closer to the truth than 'broken' or 'weird'.

This has become my new normal.  This is me now.

That's what I'm talking about - how to change your normal.

Take, por ejemple, a drug addict - let's say meth addict because that's the extreme we've all seen on tv.  Their 'normal' is worrying about, acquiring, and ingesting drugs.  Their 'normal' is isolation, bad hygiene, bad sleep, bad nutrition, theft, lying, scamming, deception...  That's a normal life for an addict (in this example anyway).

If you lead a certain life, you have a certain 'normal'.  If you want a different life, you need to change your 'normal'.

A recovering drug addict would have to become a non-drug user.  Their new normal would be abstinence.  Watching for triggers.  Vigilance.  Reflection.  Actively pursuing sobriety and recovery.  That normal is tough - and the recovering addict might say 'why can't I just be done?  Why is this a constant fight with me?  Other people don't even THINK about drugs - why ME?'

And the response sucks too.  BECAUSE THAT'S YOUR NORMAL.  You want a sober life?  That’s the normal.

For me, my normal right now is sitting.  Sedentary.  Inactive (huh, like a hypnotized sloth I'm inactive.  I''m practically pining for the fjords)
'That parrot is definitely deceased!'
'No no, he's merely pining for the fjords'
Being inactive doesn’t help my depression OR the size of my ass.  I need to get back to what I was doing when I felt good.  But it can't be a project, like when I lost all that weight (and have gained it all back because PROJECT).  There isn’t an end.  An ‘Achievement Unlocked’ award .  

It just has to become who I am.  My new normal.  This is why that stupid saying even exists - 'it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle!'.  Only, that never really rang a bell with me. But changing what I'm doing because that's my new normal, that makes sense.  

Like, dammit - I'm a sugar/carb addict, and even a little bit of it triggers a bio-chemical reaction in my brain that I can't control.  Sweet+savory+fat = Size 14 pants for me.  So my new normal is saying 'no' to that.  My addiction is my normal.  Sedentary is my normal.  I want a new normal, so I need to take action and create one.  It becomes just more of who I am.  So on top of addict, and sedentary, I also have recovering and moving as my normal.  Simple.  But not easy.  It’s conscious effort, not the original program running in the background.  This is in your front-brain, until it becomes the new script.

And if your normal is feeling like an outcast/weirdo?  Those of us raised in abuse, who have shattered normal-meters.  Who can't survive long in social situations, us who have very quick agile brains that make connections others don't see (due to prolonged exposure to crazy).  Those of us who have seen enough of life to know that Stephen King might actually be a biographer, not a fiction writer.  The way your brain works, misfires and all, is your normal.

You ARE normal.  You're normal the way people with black hair or a club foot or bad teeth or pattern baldness are normal.

The first step to feeling better (in my stupid opinion) really is to stop calling yourself anything.  In your head, on 'paper', to other people.  Not weird, not odd, not depressed, not anything.  Because we've made a habit out of leading with the abuse and damage.  That's not all of who we are.  People with bald spots don't immediately tell people about it, or wear a sproingy arrow hat that points to it.  It's just part of who they are.  Same thing.  
I love this picture.  SO much.
That's really the biggest hurdle.  Because if you can re-write that script in your head, you can start to just be YOU.  Even if that you can only be at a party for 30 minutes - you find out you can be calm about it.  You can say 'I have another engagement I need to leave' even if the other engagement is sitting on your couch.  You don't have to be nervous, or apologetic about YOU.  And you can stop hating you, and wishing for a different you.

You can layer new normal on top of your base-line.  Positive self-talk.  Exercise.  Medication.  Meditation.  Whatever it is that helps your brain function better and helps YOU feel less crazy – that can become your normal too.

Depression?  NORMAL.  New normal?  Depression, + take meds that help, get enough sleep, get exercise, stop eating processed foods, etc.

Anxiety?  NORMAL.  New normal?  Anxiety + [whatever works here].

Clumsy?  NORMAL.  New normal?  Clumsy + slow down, be aware, deliberate movement, flat shoes.

Fat knees?  NORMAL.  New normal?  Fat knees plus remembering that those knees get you to the park, to your kid's events, to your job or your fun.  And reminding yourself that knees are just knees and NOT HAVING knees would be abnormal.  Having knees of any kind?  NORMAL.

It takes being kind to yourself.  Stopping the internal hate war we wage against ourselves.  It does take work, because this isn’t the original program that has run in the background your entire life.  It’s a constant, conscious, overwrite of the tape installed in childhood.  But getting a new normal is worth the work of the rewrite.  Because the new normal will be what helps you feel better, to feel PEACE.

And I dunno about you, but PEACE is what I’ve been looking for since I started this journey.  Hope I find it soon.  I feel like I'm closer, anyway.
I wanted a pic of a headstone that said something about 'found peace at last'
But this is funnier.