Normal: Only a Setting on the Washing Machine

2014-07-15 11.43.17

My friend has had a very unexpected family crisis. She was living her life, a good life at that, and one day, in one moment, her entire life as she knew it was something else. We are taught certain facts in life. If you’re of a certain generation, you were taught Pluto is a planet and brontosauruses are dinosaurs. You are taught that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. You are taught certain laws of physics and the law of gravitation. You are taught good sportsmanship. You are taught that life is hard, but with hard work, anything is possible.

But see, life is funny. And when I say funny, I mean it brings people to their knees crying, and not in a laughing sort of way. Turns out Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, and brontosauruses never really existed. Let me tell you, I am still all sorts of pissed off about those two changes in “facts.” In fact, I still get pissed off about discovering that the way things are supposed to be, usually are not. My friend has stumbled onto this discovery as well, and she is all sorts of pissed off.

She said all she wants is to be normal, to have a normal loving family, to live a normal fulfilling life. I mean really, she certainly deserves that–she was minding her own business, recycling, contributing to the economy, doing her part in social justice issues, volunteereing a lot, raising a good family, supporting her friends. She understood relationships are hard; she worked at those things that make them hard. But see, we’re taught that relationships are hard AND there’s a happily ever after. That’s what we’re taught is normal.

She’s grieving many losses right now. She’s grieving the loss of the life she once knew. She’s grieving the loss of the structure and rules and the resulting rewards that life is supposed to be about. She’s grieving the loss of her understanding of who a loved one was. She’s grieving the loss of her projected future as she understood it. She’s grieving the loss of her 40-plus years of life as she knew it. She’s grieving the loss of trust and faith and safety and love. She’s grieving the loss of the concept of normalcy that buffers us in life events, that guide us in life’s decisions, that provides a comfortable safety zone.

She is discovering in her heart and soul that there is no normal. That’s another “fact” that is in fact a lie. Normal doesn’t exist. Messy exists. Complicated exists. Nuances exist. Shades of grey exist. Humans are messy. Relationships are messy. We’re all on a spectrum of messy and complicated and vagaries, and we move along this spectrum through life, and that is in fact normal. But normal as an end point? No such thing.

There is stumbling and bumbling along. There are paths paved in uncertainty. There are many moments of fear and betrayal and dread and anger and grief. There are moments of grace and empathy and compassion and mercy. All of that jumbled, bumbled mess is normal. But there is no one normal path paved in good deeds and hard work with occasional potholes of crises that get patched up neatly.

There is a happily ever after that is possible. It’s not the one we were taught as youngsters. It’s one we each need to define for ourselves as we stumble down our own individual paths of uncertainty and struggles in our messy pajamas with hair all askew. Our paths never lead us where we expect–we don’t get pre-programmed GPS directions. Our destinations change, oftentimes without our input. It would have been nice if our tour guide in life warned us of this at the beginning of our trip; if we knew that Normal is the place where Supposed-To-Be’s reside, and that in fact this town is actually fictional.

But never mind. We’ll make do. My friend, she is resilient. She has struggled with her own demons through the years, and she’s bravely done her own hard work of facing her Truths. She knows despite the pain and fear and uncertainty, she is brave and strong and resilient. She has had good practice with doing hard things,; she is a Warrior in every sense of the word.  Despite being burdened by this current mess that is reminding her there is no normal, she is realizing messy is not an indictment of who she is or what she deserves. It just is. Messy.

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11 Responses to Normal: Only a Setting on the Washing Machine

  1. Lucky she has a wise and caring friend like you. Life is full of tossing and turning and changing forms. I hope she finds solace.


  2. aveline07 says:

    I understand this…I feel for your friend, and her situation, whatever the details may be, resonates with my own. If it’s any consolation, I do feel I’ve moved into and am moving into the best part of my life right now. So much learning, much more gratitude with what I have today…definitely not where I thought I’d be, that’s for sure. Great post. Good friend.


    • Good for you–I’m so glad to hear you say believe you’re moving into the best part of your life. Your words resonate with me–this is not at all any place I ever thought I’d be in life, I’m not at all the person I ever thought I’d turn into. But boy am I grateful! And after many trials and tribulations, also believe this is THE best chapter of my life, and will continue to get better! Thank you for your very kind words!!


      • aveline07 says:

        Thank YOU. Definitely reading and interacting with many bloggers such as yourself has been a big part of my own healing and self-discovery process…I still remember your post on being brave 🙂 You are what you surround yourself with… Awesome…I continue to enjoy following your journey.


  3. ♡eM says:

    May your friend return to the setting of peace as soon as it comes. ❤


  4. Healing Grief says:

    We all need to be reminded there is no “normal” when we are usually told there is only “perfect”. Great post. Grieving is an important process to work through and your support is wonderful.


    • Thank you for your kind words, Karen! It is really amazing how insidious the message of perfect and normal and “supposed-to-be”s are threads through so many things in life, and we don’t even realize it until things shatter. I hope my support is enough for her!


  5. Val Boyko says:

    Great post! It made me realize how strong our beliefs are in setting expectations for our lives. I also think normal is messy with highs and lows in an ever changing landscape.
    She is lucky to have you as a friend to help her re-set.
    I also like he idea of normal being casual! I think I’ll give that one a go 🙂


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