“When did you last feel normal?”
The question was quite simple, but for some reason it felt jagged, like it had been torn improperly and now had these rough edges that would tear at my skin painfully. It felt foreign and altogether invasive.
I closed my eyes, bit the outer part of my lip and thought for a moment. When did I last feel normal?
Oh, I knew the answer, but I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to say the words out loud for an almost stranger to hear. We’d already discussed the impact of dealing with childhood traumas like my abuse, and how that makes us resonate on a much higher frequency of “normal” than most others. She understood clearly that I was aware that my normal was significantly different than others, like my husband, who had not dealt with an inch of trauma in his life.
I am so self-aware that I shock most therapists when I articulate what I need, what is going on in my head. I know my triggers, I know that I compartmentalize to survive, as well as repress. I know I have explosive anger that peaks when I feel most unsafe, and unheard. I know the steps of de-escalating. I know how to express my needs in a way that won’t intimidate or place blame.
My last therapist said I was a therapist’s dream come true. Which always pleases my perfectionist ears.
However, and we all know that was coming.
I could have answered,
“Not since I was forced to relinquish my son through adoption. Not since I was essentially blamed for him having the behavioral issues that he contends with. Not since I have been isolated from contact from him as though I am a terrible, no good person who is not to be trusted.”
In comparison to this, my childhood abuse seems like a complete cakewalk. Sure, it gives me issues from time to time, but I have learned to cope. I’ve learned to survive with the full relization that I will never be normal like some people are. I know that as much as I wish to erase the trauma of being abused, assaulted, and violated, it just won’t happen. All I can do is move forward, find balance, and heal.
I know that.
But this adoption stuff? It’s a different sort of trauma. It’s one I didn’t grow up learning to defend myself against. I trusted adults, despite my own history of them failing me. I was manipulated, lied to, and beaten down to believe that I was such a terrible person that even I couldn’t possibly be capable of raising my own flesh and blood. Then despite my own protests, my heartfelt wishes of parenting, I was lured into a corner, and blindfolded to believe that I was doing the absolute, best, and only thing I could offer my son.
Giving him away was the best thing I could do, they lied. I lacked so much confidence, that I truly believed that I had no choice but to believe them. So I did, and I did for another eight years until I was thrust out of my adoption fog.
How do you ever feel normal after that? How do you go back to see the world as it once was when it is absolutely colored differently? How do you trust anyone, even yourself, when you take part in a scenario where you used your own hands to execute the final order?
How do you ever feel normal after you gave away your own child?
I know the answer without any professional having to tell me- you don’t ever feel that normal again; you find a new normal. Which I am desperately, hopelessly trying to do.
Opening my eyes, I frowned, “Not for a long time, honestly”.
The discussion moved on to goal setting, a referral, some big words that could ultimately lead to a real, proper diagnosis, and a plan.
Yes, normal at this point is not likely. Understanding where my new baseline is? That’s doable. Figuring out how to cope with all my personal traumas and move forward, healing, forgiving, learning? Also, doable. Learning to openly talk about the impact my adoption has had on me over the last ten years? That scares me in away that makes my heart stop, but it’s also doable.
Here’s to finding my “normal” that will include a hard shot of crazy, trauma, and grief. It’ll have a shot of quirkiness, eccentricity, wisdom, compassion, and humor.
Normal is overrated anyway.