What is normal?
William Somerset Maugham said, “Normal is an ideal. It is a picture that one fabricates of the average characteristics of men, and to find them all in a single man is hardly to be expected.”
That is why each of us creates our own normal. Normal may be living with a disease, a handicap or the results of traumatic brain injury. It’s the way we pursue our lives that creates our own normal. Some will never walk without an artificial limb; some may never grow beyond age 12 mentally and socially, and some may be dependent on medicine to survive. It’s what we do with our time here on earth that makes a difference, not only in our own lives, but those of others as well.
Unfortunately, anger can alter our time and alter the outcome like no other emotion – especially unexpressed anger. I’ve been reading “8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness” by Andrea Brandt. It’s full of wonderful information and helpful tips on how to live your life without hidden anger. And part of that hidden anger is admitting that we have it and forgiving ourselves and others who were unable to express it themselves. We pass it from generation to generation and somewhere along the 4th or 5th generation we desperately need to break it down, call it out, and get over it while those we need to forgive are still alive.
Forgiving is the hardest part because we have to acknowledge that we haven’t done it right and need to. Then we have to tell the person we forgive them, and then we can begin to move on. A parent, a spouse, a child, a best friend, all can play into the drama we create in our heads. And that drama becomes all consuming. It wasn’t until I took my own advice that I could move on – as a Congressional Aide I counseled people on issues from Social Security to building bridges. So many times their dreams were based on getting even. I would tell them, “You can move forward or get even, but there isn’t time, energy or money to do both”.
Without forgiveness, without expressing our anger in a healthy way, without sharing that growth with those you have forgiven, there can be no healing and we cannot find our own normal. One beautiful woman in my life is learning about her own normal. She’s diabetic – her day is dictated by test strips and needles. Her bag of life weighs heavily on her shoulder or on the back of a very nearby chair. It’s not fair, it’s not fun, it’s not easy – but she hasn’t lost her inner beauty. It’s just the anger she harbors for her fate. I have no doubt she’ll overcome this, in time, as she has so many other challenges she’s set her mind to. Once she gets to forgiveness, she’ll get to expressing her anger and moving on. It’s her own normal.