I’ve watched my share of Oprah. Most of the time when she’s talking about important issues I find her to be sensitive, non-judgemental and an inquirer of interesting questions. But when I heard her ask a guest if things had gone back to normal after her time of hardship, I was disappointed.
When I was younger, I knew I was different from the other kids in my life. In my mind, they were normal and I wasn’t, plain and simple. Normal people didn’t get sick enough to end up in the hospital. Normal people did not have scars on their chest or think about how another person died and gave them life. Normal people did not take early morning trips with their dads to have blood work before the school day started.
It seems laughable as I know at the time I also didn’t think I was normal because I was the daughter of a pastor. Now, many years later, I am convinced the amount of people who actually believe they are normal are few and far between.
Which begs the question, what the heck is normal anyway? When I looked it up on dictionary.com, a variety of definitions came up. Here are some highlights:
– usual; not abnormal; regular; natural
– average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment
– free from any mental disorder; sane
– free from any infection or other form of disease or malformation, or from experimental therapy or manipulation
I am not any of those things, except perhaps sane. Maybe. But in admitting I’m not normal, I also admit that I am not average. In fact, I am unusual, abnormal, irregular and unnatural – or in other more positive terms: incomparable, extraordinary, unimaginable and unique.
I’d like to say I have wholly given up trying to be what society considers to be normal, but then I would be lying. Instead of always embracing my uniqueness, sometimes I still feel like I did in grade school, that no one could possibly like me because I am such a freak. Let’s face it, it’s a challenge to accept you are different and to find peace in that, especially when it feels like society is upholding normal as a gold standard.
But for now, normal is taking on a new meaning for me. On another Oprah show, Oprah amended her question of normalcy by asking a guest if she had a new sense of normal after her time of hardship.
Even if I’m not considered normal by society, if I remove myself from being compared to other people my life takes on its own sense of normal. It is normal for me to have to go for blood work every month. It is normal for me to take drugs everyday. It is normal for me to think about my donor and whether my life has done him justice. What throws me for a loop is when my personal sense of normalcy is shattered.
Back in the summer of 2004, such a shattering occurred. I went to the hospital for a routine echo, and wound up with a two-week hospital stay. The culprit? A two-centimetre blood clot in the left ventricle of my heart. Suddenly I was plunged into the world of heart medication, pacemaker/defibrillator appointments and surgeries, and the ultimate knowledge that if my heart degrades further, the only option will be a heart transplant.
After almost four years, it is only now I truly feel I have relaxed into a new sense of normal. It is a normal I had never imagined for myself, but a normal that proves to me people can get used to almost anything. In time, I think society too will come around to the fact that normal in our world today has many faces.