Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of Peace

Consider the complaint, "I just want to be normal." I've been thinking about it quite a bit lately. Two friends, both of whom are mentally ill, given to self-injury, and whom are of a sensitive disposition have also asked that of themselves, and of me.

I'm not going to define "normal," as there really is no consistent definition that is worth applying here. The concern we feel isn't even about normalcy, it's about a desire to do things "right." We endlessly ask ourselves if each step is a wise one to take, if we're carrying our share of the load, and the Grand High Pooh-Bah of anxious self-analysis, "Am I fulfilling my responsibilities?"

If you're there for your friends and family and helping to provide for them, then concerns about fitting in fade away. The desire to be normal is an aesthetic concern for the most part. Take a Zen moment with this McDonald's commercial, which seems to be saying that it's abnormal and snobby to dislike football and enjoy independent film.

I'm not really all that normal, but not in an interesting way. I'm not plotting a revolution in my basement or think I can talk to Abraham Lincoln. But I am a good person, defined for me means being compassionate as often as possible. Normal, as I once sought it, doesn't exist. Methinks that cutting is done as a distraction from the mind and all the pain it can cause; guilt, self-loathing, sexual addiction or total lack of interest, regret, fear, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, racing thoughts, all of that. And more!

The last time I cut myself it was out of racing thoughts about a personal matter in my life. Needless to say, I was upset. It is a terrible wound that was done with a pair of scissors. I cut out a triangle about the size of a half dollar and tossed the pyramid-shaped skin away. At one point, the mantra about wanting to be normal started up, but after some painful consideration I decided that what I really want is peace. My life right now is a good one. I'm in love and am loved in turn. My father lives with me, and I cook his meals and do the laundry, cleaning, that sort of thing. He is 76 and very nearly died after surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

My father and my beloved, with my brother not too far away. None of them judge me, and are instead totally supportive in every way.

Money is tight. It's always tight. Welcome to Earth.

This summer, we will have a tomato garden, and Linda and I have taken to hiking. The last time we hiked, we got very lost. In my view, a scary level of lost. But we are having a delightful time together, walking under a green canopy and over paths crisscrossed with the roots of trees. I try to savor the moments I have with Linda. Much of my time is spent worrying about her or Kent of my father.

It's all very normal, isn't it? This is what people do! If it weren't, I'd still seek out this life. The problem for me, of course, and the two friends I mentioned earlier, is simple. We get depressed or suicidal or in some way frantic or self-destructive. We seem to celebrate drama but in fact we can't stand it. We are governed too much by emotion.

But despite mental illness, I know that I have everything I need to be perfectly happy. My mind will be trained to understand this if I have to waterboard it.

1 comment:

Apocalypse Cow said...

Self-harm is also done not only as a distraction, but as a display of control. I do not self-harm, but I am very close to someone who does, and that is what their shrink had to say to them about it. It, according to the doctor, is a distraction from the bad things in the head, and is a kind of zoning out by the brain to escape feelings of inadequacy, failure, and despair. It is also a way to control panic, PTSD, and "runaway trains of thought".