I’ve been feeling a little more free lately.
Why, you wonder?
Because I’ve decided I’m normal.
I, like so many others in our current culture, have pathologized myself all too much.
My inclinations, my quirks, my preferences
all taken a little too seriously, sometimes.
Google will tell me the precise name of the ailment I am suffering when I ask it what’s up when I worry too much, or have a flutter in my chest, or an irrational craving for bagels, or when I have a dream about falling, or am tired, sore, uncertain, afraid, apathetic, hungry, not hungry….the list goes on.
I’ve spent all too long thinking I have adrenal fatigue, or unresolved issues from my childhood, or a yeast imbalance, or vicarious trauma, or *inflammation.*
and it’s not lost on me that I’ve been made to feel this way largely by an industry of people who are ready and willing to have me hire them to help me fix myself.
And then one day, a little while ago, I wondered:
“What if I am normal?”
I know that “normal” is a fraught word in and of itself, but I don’t want to demonize it here, because at its heart it’s the feeling of being validated, and the feeling that comes with the idea that others might be going through something similar. Normal isn’t one way of being, per se, but a spectrum. And I think we can all agree that it feels kind of good to believe that our way of being in the world fits on a spectrum of normal.
I see this every day in my work. When women ask me if it’s normal to grieve the loss of their former selves when making a big life transition, or when they ask me if it’s normal to take some time to adjust to motherhood. And when I say “yes, my love, it’s normal,” I see their shoulders drop and I hear their sighs of relief. It’s permission to stop Googling, to stop feeling guilty and broken, and to just get on with living.
I don’t want to deny, of course, that some folks have experiences, conditions or ways of being that may fall under a spectrum of, for lack of a less clinical-sounding way of saying it, pathology. Things that don’t feel good and that require support to navigate.
But I want to offer that perhaps many of us are actually normal. Perhaps all of us, to some degree.
And I want to offer permission to just not listen to people who make you feel like you’re not normal. Who make you feel like you’re broken or less-than or sick.
When I asked myself “Am I normal?” I thought about some of the areas of my life that I had become expert at pathologizing, and rather than listening to the external noise that was telling me I needed to fix these areas of my life, I listened to myself.
I asked myself:
“Does this way of being feel okay to me? Does it feel good?”
“Does this way of being cause conflict or strife in my life or others?”
“Has this way of being felt difficult to shift? Is it possible that it is just the way I am, and that that’s why it’s been so difficult to change?”
“How would it feel to stop trying to fix this aspect of my life?”