“Mum, I just want you to know that I’m not normal”
I remember the day those words matter-of-factly came out of my mouth. I was sitting across the table from my Mum, copying the content of my first book by hand. I’d had a mental breakdown and found the only thing that kept the fear, panic attacks and anxiety at bay, was focusing on creative, simple things like using a ruler to draw lines on plain paper and copying words one by one.
I don’t remember her response, much like I don’t know what’d prompted me, after thirty-three years of being her daughter, to drop the bombshell. But I’m sure she’d already figured out that I wasn’t destined to stay in any type of box, no matter how hard I tried.
There’ve been points during recovery when I’ve been reminded over and over again, that the biggest contributing factor to my mental ill-health has been reigning in the extremes of who I am, rather than allowing myself the freedom to take up space and be unapologetically all of me.
Can I go to work with wild hair, lay on the floor looking at the office ceiling when the mood takes me and not reach for my ‘professional’ language in a meeting, without the fear of losing my job?
Can I go to a church and stand up during the sermon and shout “that part’s a lie”, or openly tell people that the non-binary ‘sinner’ might very well be more spiritually evolved than the fleshy Christian heterosexual? And what about considering whether the Bible book of Song of Solomon would’ve been considered pornographic when it was written?
Can I love fearlessly, hug tightly and burst with appreciation of someone, without them thinking I’m weird or have romantic intentions?
Can I tell that person raising money during mental health awareness week on social media, to sit down and shut up until they check their own words and the impact they had on people in their world … namely, me?
Society has rules, protocols and lots of shoulds and should nots. I’ve done well to learn them, but there’s a problem – they make me mentally ill.
They clip the wings I was given to fly; Just shut up Anny, we don’t say or do things like that – you’re too much! This is how society works.
It’s fair to say that my continued healing and recovery requires bold moves to open my mouth, express what I need to express, and be me, no matter what others say. Scary, but necessary.
So as I progress, taking responsibility for my life, considering my wants rather than shoulds, and setting SMART goals, I have the great task of creating a lifestyle that allows for the full expression of myself without unjustly harming others – because I know for sure that Me is rooted in real love, mutual respect and understanding of differences.
Declaring, “I just want you to know that I’m not normal” was probably my way of saying, “I can’t be who you and this world wants or expects me to be anymore. It’s hurting me and I need to own who I am, even if that doesn’t fit in with what’s considered normal or acceptable to you.”
And ‘Normal’ is such a subjective word – what’s normal for one group is not normal for another. I don’t believe anyone desires to go against the grain as much as they just desire the freedom to flourish in to who they are individually – individuals who collectively create a beautiful diverse picture that enhances the experience for all. That’s what I call Life.
Takeaway: This is me. This is my life. This is my opportunity to boldly express the wonder that I Am – without apology! And allow others to do the same.