Everything looks normal…
That’s perfectly normal…
The warranty covers normal wear and tear…
Bring things back to normal…
I just want a normal life….or do I? What does that mean? According to the dictionary normal is: conforming to the standard, common type, usual, regular or natural. Who sets the standard? I’m sure that it changes from place-to-place and person-to-person. The picture of a normal family in India looks different from one in the United States. In India arranged marriages still remain the majorly preferred way for Indians to enter into matrimony. There was a study done a few years ago that showed 74% of young Indians between 17-34 said that they would rather let their parents choose their life partners, than choosing themselves.
Most young people in the United States don’t prefer for their parents to pick their spouse. Although as a parent to 3 sons I would have jumped at the chance! Hence our fascination with television shows like Arranged or Married at First Sight. In our country this just isn’t our normal.
There were many people who abused me sexually and emotionally as a child. There aren’t enough words to accurately describe what that did to me. I’m still trying to figure that out. As much as I don’t like to think about those days – I know how important it is to share my story. If this never happened to you then I bet it did to someone you know and possibly love. I also bet you know someone who has done this to others (you just may not know it). Yep it’s true.
We all have an idea of what monsters look like in our head. What if their faces looked like your uncle, brother or friend? How does your mind wrap around that truth? I’ve shared stories about my uncle and grandfather but never really about my aunt. Painful memories that I’ve avoided at all cost. Even as agonizing and unbearable it is to recall the interactions with my uncle – I’ve dreaded to even step near the ones with my aunt.
As far back as I can remember she was always around my family. Her grotesque and miserable actions matched her outward appearance and personality. She had a physique and countenance that intimidated and scared me. There was also this loud boisterous laugh that flowed out of her core which shot daggers into my soul. When she spoke to me it felt as if I was a punchline to her secret joke. If a question was asked I began tiptoeing around landmines, and never knew how to give a safe answer. Maybe I would escape the explosion in that moment, but it would always come back to get me later. She was the master of twisting and using my words against me. She seemed to relish the moments when I was scolded or punished. Mission accomplished.
Then one day for reasons never told to me she moved into our home, and into my room.
I already knew she was a mean, nasty human being but I soon learned I really didn’t know anything at all. It was exhausting to maneuver and tolerate her when she would visit. Now I had to live with her day AND night! The things she said and did to me (along with that horrendous laugh) continues to haunt me even now. Something I so very desperately desire to overcome. No one – not my husband, my counselor, my closest confidant know the depth I suffered because of this woman. As I type these words I’m reminded of a cousin I later learned also endured her abuse. We have both severely struggled different ways in life and I pray one day we will both find our way to peace and wholeness.
The abuse I was subjected to in my room at home became my normal. Keep in mind my uncle (her brother) would also abuse me there too. This reinforced my normal and for many years I never told a single soul. Such torment, damage and destruction took place while things on the surface looked perfectly normal.
Even the way I shoved the painful memories inside me as a form of survival felt normal. For decades I became the walking dead going through life, and wondering why I struggled to find peace. One day I understood to heal I needed to get far away from normal as possible.
The uncle who also abused me recently fathered another child. It was a little girl. I was shocked and saddened when I found out. I stumbled across a picture on Facebook and tried to not look, but I did. I saw this beautiful, sweet, innocent little girl who has zero clue what life could bring her. Her father is a Level 3 Sex Offender who still refuses to take complete accountability for his actions and his life. This baby was born into a situation that will soon become her normal. There are family members who continue to help him when in reality isn’t help. That is their normal.
Normal doesn’t always equal healthy, safe or proper.
Sometimes in life you can be made to feel like something is wrong with you if you don’t act normal. Taking a stand against things that are harmful, destructive and some cases illegal might not be understood. Others have gossiped and judged me for not keeping quiet and refusing to pretend everything is okay. This just shows how long and deep and wide and wrong this normal has existed in my family.
One day I mustered enough courage, packed my bags and left normal far behind. I hope and pray someday many others will follow, and the outcome will break the cycle that ushers healing and lasting change.