I’ve never understood how someone could describe any human being’s life as “normal.” I hear it all the time….”All I want is a normal life.” I could say, “All I want is a peaceful life” or a “fulfilled life.” But then, my life experiences have shaped who I am, as well as who I have the potential to be. There’s no sense in looking back and wishing things had been different…all that does is take away time and energy from building the life I want.
One thing to know about me: I recognize that I have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In the 70’s and 80’s, when I was in primary school, it was better known as having “ants in your pants.” There were no fancy diagnostic tests for a fidgety kid. I always knew that I was somehow profoundly different from other people…..yet I rarely felt like an outsider. I attended Catholic school, back in the days when nuns did most of the teaching. Being “fidgety” just wasn’t an option…..back then, ADD should have been called, “Sit still, be quiet…..OR ELSE!”
I also had a healthy respect for the nuns who were my primary educators. Other kids might have behaved out of fear….fear of their parents, fear of the nuns in their black and white uniforms, or out of the fear of being ridiculed by their peers. This was one of the first ways I took notice of the fact that I was “different”…..that I never, truly fit in with any of the typical friendship circles and cliques that my peers participated in. No one intimidated me. I was afraid of no one. Respect and gratitude towards others, yes. Fear, no.
In fact, I was much more comfortable hanging out in pubs among the friends and co-workers of my single dad, who was a firefighter from Washington DC. Some of my best childhood memories (even as young as 7 or 8 years old) involve watching my dad’s buddies drink, act silly, and bend over backwards to make me smile. I was a serious child…..one who studied everyone and everything around me until I had them or it figured down to a “T.” But some take “serious” to be “unhappy.” For me, nothing could have been further from the truth. And let me add, that while some adults may hear the tales of my childhood and think it was inappropriate for a young child to “hang out” with a bunch of fire fighters at pubs, I can assure you that, during these times, I was never happier and never felt more safe. I knew that every single one of those men would lay their life on the line for me.
I’m certain that many critics out there would label my childhood and my family as “dysfunctional.” I would ask, “Dysfunctional HOW?” Because our ideas of happiness and love do not fit in with yours? And why should I care about YOUR ideals? Let’s face it…..every family has battle scars…..on the outside where they are visible to the world, or deep down on the inside…..no one will get through life unscathed…..so we may as well just learn to deal with it.
I often think of the many pivotal moments of my life…..those times when the light switches on deep in the recesses of your brain and you never again see the world (or yourself) quite the same anymore. One of those moments happened about 5 years ago.
I had finally built up the courage to leave my 10+ year marriage…..truth is, I should have ended it long before I did. But there was always something that kept me going. My (now) ex seemed to get thrills by constantly criticizing many things that I did. He would describe many of my lifelong behaviors as “messed up” or “wrong.”
For example, he rarely ever helped with housework….so my life was spent either working, caring for children, cleaning, or cooking. He would sit back on the couch, engrossed in some television show or another.