The plastic bag around my head

"Normal has always felt like a lie to me, a too-tight sweater we force ourselves to wear. Normal has never been too kind to women, to children, or people of color, people mired in poverty, anyone different in any way. Normal is good for no one, really. It is a lie we all decide to believe--after even the most cursory look, no one is actually normal; it is a plastic bag we wrap around our own heads." --Allison Cooper

It's been over a year now since my last post. I won't go into all the whys, but basically it was because I felt like I was failing at normal. My normal has always been strange, but I'm usually lighthearted, fun to be around. This time last year I wasn't much fun to be around anymore. So I went through a period of trying to reclaim normal. Until I realized normal is just not going to happen for me. And it was scary. Kind of like having a plastic bag around my head. I found myself in the most claustrophobic situation I've ever experienced. And I've been in some tight spots: caving in Colorado, shopping on Black Friday, riding a bus in China. I actually enjoy tight spots . . . they initially create a certain level of comfort. Like a big bear hug. But there's a point when your air runs out. When you no longer know the difference between your own clammy arm and the sweaty coolness of whatever or whomever is beside you.

And that's how I felt. Like my air had run out. I didn't know myself anymore.

So I quit. But not right away.

I've never been much of a quitter. My pride just doesn't let me. But pride is an entry in my "things I lost last year" column--it's written in big, bold letters. When I lost that, everything became an option. I thought about fleeing the country, but my passport had expired. ALWAYS keep your passport up to date. Then I thought about joining the circus. But their entry-level positions probably involve lots of dung. I even thought of just disappearing suddenly. All would have made fantastic stories really, but I would have just been running away from my problems.

So I turned in my notice in February and began the process of slowly walking away. And that's how I came home again. I'm certainly not the Marion kind anymore. Nor am I the Eva kind. You might think I'm in limbo. Just waiting for what comes next . . . It seems like my life is paused and I've skipped ahead to add to the appendix of my life, like I'm storing information that may not seem relevant, but might come in handy one day. A few weeks ago I learned the fine art of kraut making from my father. Then I learned how to can that kraut. I'm thinking of learning how to quilt. I'm sewing more, sleeping more, and listening more. But I'm realizing that maybe this is not an appendix to my story after all. All of these experiences that I'm saying "yes" to are now part of my story. They're things that people with "normal" jobs can't find the time to do.

I want more of these stories. And that's why I want to go to this conference:

I want to live a better story . . . definitely one in which the heroine is not suffocating herself with the plastic bag of normalcy.

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.


Laura Forman said...

thank you friend for sharing your heart...i have come to terms that none of us are ever living that normal life that somehow in our minds we think we should have. just today clark and i were talking about, what is normal? will we ever get there and then we concluded, we hope not! normal is boring :) i can not wait to see you friend...2 months from today we will be in america :)

Mandy Mc said...

1. I'm SO glad you blogged. 2. I'm even more glad that you didn't flee the country. 3. I just realized that my passport has expired too. How could we let this happen??? What has become of our adventurous spirits??? We must remedy the situation soon. 4. I love your thoughts about the experiences we say yes to being part of our story. BEAUTIFUL! 5. Thank you for being you. I love ALL of my non-normal friends, but you are an extra special one!

At the Edge of the Water said...

Loved reading this. Loved seeing you this weekend. Love where you are right now. Rejoicing with you!

Therapyforfreeforme said...

wow. thank you for sharing this. I was so happy to log on and see that you had posted a blog. I look forward to reading more about where you are now and where you will go from here. Kraut? Really? These are the things I should slow down enough to do. Spider webs in the corners of EVERY room in the house should wait...Kraut and things of the like should happen in my life. Normal? May none of us ever find ourselves there. I like the description you have given to normal - "the plastic bag". That is so very true.