Normalcy.

I don’t think my blog can be characterized as “well-written”. I find myself in literal anguish every time I have this screen open in front of me. Sometimes I’ll sit here until the wee hours of the morning rewriting and revising.  It’s frustrating because I feel like I have so much more I could be saying but I can’t get my words out. So this week I’m just going to write freely and without inhibition.

I’ve always been kind of an oddball. I’ve spent most of my life grappling with the definition of the word “Normal”. When I was much younger, I wore the idea of being “not normal” on my sleeve like a badge of honour. I was proud to not be normal. It defined me. It made me. My story was unlike anyone else’s story and nothing could take that away from me.  I wanted to let my freak flag fly.  But children can be cruel. And children started strangling and trampling any idea I had that being anything other than “normal” was okay.  I could no longer be myself. I didn’t want to be myself.  I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to fit in. If I could just be normal, everything would be okay.

It was high school that really did it. You can’t be any sort of oddball in high school unless you are already well liked. I was doomed. I spent years fighting my way through, trying to cling to some shred of hope that one day the madness would stop. It’s only now that I realize, in retrospect, that by stifling my true self, I was doing more bad than good.  I was lucky enough to find a small band of people that I would mesh well with but I’m sorry to say I haven’t spoken to most of them in years.

My sophomore year of highschool is undoubtedly the worst year of my life. I never wanted to be at home because I did not feel safe. My stepfather had the entire household walking on eggshells all the waking hours of the day and afraid to sleep at night.  The weighted threats and the unyielding rage towards us meant I had to grow up really fast. I had to know phone numbers and where emergency contacts lived. I had a suitcase under my bed packed full of my clothes, my mother’s clothes, and my brother’s clothes. I had emergency cab fare hidden between my mattress and box-spring. I snooped around not out of childish curiousity but out of desire for safety. It goes without saying that as a 15 year old, I just didn’t want to be home all that much.  I was already spending a lot of my time online. I felt like I could be myself. It was my outlet. It was the small thing I could grasp onto where I could really be me.  I took some form of solace in the anonymity of it all. Until I was discovered by some of the other students from my high school. To make a long story short, I didn’t want to be at home, nor did I want to show my face at school. I spent a lot of time in bed listening to dark and depressing music.  I longed for normalcy.  I knew my classmates didn’t go home afraid for their lives and the lives of their family.  I knew my classmates weren’t kept up at night by every squeak of the floorboards. I knew my classmates didn’t think one passing thought of me outside the school environment. But I thought of them.  I thought of them with every passing moment under the covers in my bedroom. I thought of them each time I considered dragging a razor across my arms. I never did. I knew the battle a friend had gone through with that addiction and I didn’t want to have to deal with that too. I relinquished all of my control over the situation with my classmates. I didn’t want to fight them. I gave in. I surrendered. I wanted to save my efforts for where they really might count.

After a confrontation with my stepfather led to me having a complete emotional meltdown, I began to live with my grandma. I couldn’t help but feel like I was letting my mother down.  I began to see a counselor at the high school. Most of my friends were not aware of this. I went once every two weeks, sat down for 30 minutes, and talked. She didn’t say a thing. She didn’t need to. All I needed was someone to talk to. My friends couldn’t possibly understand what I was going through. My friends never stood in front of their mother to protect her from the 5 inch hunting knives in their stepfather’s back pocket. My friends didn’t know what it was like to get into physical fights in their own home with someone twice their size.  My mother finally got up the nerve to have my stepfather removed from the household.  We went to my grandmother’s house and the police escorted him to the hospital where he would be committed to the mental ward.  One with Schizophrenia Psychosis should never stop taking their medication. I don’t know how long he’d been off his medication but it was long enough for full blown hallucinations. You’d think in all that time he spent talking to “God”, “God” would have advised him against killing his family instead of encouraging it.  We were given a permanent restraining order which he honoured after he was out of the hospital. I am thankful for that. Regardless, we still slept lightly.  He attached a hose to the exhaust pipe of his car and pumped it through the back window late one evening. The police came to our doorstep at 1:00am and informed us of his death. Mom began to cry. I silently went back to my room, sat on the edge of my bed, and smiled.

That’s not normal.

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14 Responses to “Normalcy.”

  1. Caity Says:

    Oh my goodness hun I never knew this. I don’t even know what to say. I don’t think there is such a thing as “normal” but I think you’re a fantastic, amazing person. You’ve been through a lot in your life and I find out more all the time. For what you’ve been through, and for what you endure, you are, and continue to be a shining star. You’re a great mother, an amazing wife, a super awesome friend, and a great person. I love you.

    • leighish29 Says:

      Thank you for that. I love you too. It took a lot for me to put this out there, but I feel like I do have a story that needs to be told. I want to put my ghosts to rest, so to speak.

  2. Stacy Says:

    I’d say you’re very normal. You handled the bad things better than anyone I know could have. You’re strong Ash. You just need to believe that.

    • leighish29 Says:

      I love you. I hope you don’t feel like I did you a disservice in this entry. Whether you understood what was happening or not you were always there for me and I’ll never forget it.

  3. AJastray Says:

    No one is “normal”. It is one of those things that society has put expectations on everyone of how they “should” or “should not” be. The stifling of your true self I totally agree… it comes back to my outlook on repression lately. However all things considered you handled that era very well IMO and things worked out well in the end.

    Everyone has there own “issues” to deal with. Each person deals with those issues in there own way. You handled it with what worked for you, don’t let anyone ever tell you did wrong. And if you ever question how you handled things or how they worked out… go hug your husband and play with James. Others may not understand but they do not need to.

    And don’t let the past few years of not talking bring you down… the future is full of possibilities and there is no reason not to be excited. =D

    • leighish29 Says:

      I’ve felt a lot of guilt for a long time at the way I immediately reacted to his death. I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense but that’s just the way I am. It’s so nice to have my feelings validated by others. I’m in awe of how peaceful this makes me feel.

      • AJastray Says:

        Repression… it’s a bitch.

        It doesn’t have to make sense. Human emotion rarely (if ever) does. Reflect on it. And move on. (yes I know I need to listen to my own damn advice…)

        I am glad it is making you feel peaceful =D

  4. Jeanine Says:

    Had he been a nice caring man then I’d say that was abnormal but given what he did that is completely normal. I think there are a lot of people who endure abuse, rape, etc and never speak of it and swear no one else knows how it feels but the truth is a LOT of people really do and have experienced it themselves. It’s very hard to speak of such things as a teenager but as an adult I’m shocked to learn how many people went through the same traumatic experiences I did as a kid that I never talked about for fear they would never understand and the truth is they do. I do have to say that there is no normal but you smiling at his death is definitely not abnormal lol 😉

    • leighish29 Says:

      Thank you for your reply. I know that there are a lot of people who endure similar or worse situations. As an adult my eyes are opened to the horrors that other people have gone through. And I think that’s why I’ve chosen to remain silent for so long. In the grand scheme of things, my family reached the other side remarkably no worse for wear. It took a long time and a lot of readjusting to become acclimated to the freedom we were granted in the aftermath. However, It did happen and I feel like ignoring it isn’t going to make the memories disappear. I want to put the ghosts to rest once and for all.

  5. Alexandra Says:

    This is a very touching entry and it took a lot for you to share it. It is even more touching to see how you have made it through this experience, and how you are today. You have made the choice to take advantage of the blessings in your life rather than the losses of the past. Power to you! I don’t know you, but from reading your blog, my impression of you is fun and bubbly and honest and true. I find you authentic, down to earth, not shallow. I read about your interactions with your son and your life as a mommy, wife and working woman. You inspire me. Thank you for sharing your story and letting me in on a part of it…

  6. PrincessJenn Says:

    Ugh, just read this. (hugs again and again)
    No one should have to grow up in the shadow of violence. And finding relief in the fact the person perpetrating the violence will never do so again? Perfectly normal response I would say.
    But really, what is normal and who defines that word? I don’t know anyone who is normal. And in my eyes, normal = boring. So in other words, I love your quirky self.

  7. How I married myself, part one. « Leigh's Blog Says:

    […] finally completely hit the bricks, I called off boys altogether. This was not too long after the incident with my step-father. My life had started to improve somewhat and I wanted to spend some time […]

  8. Katie (aka Kekibird) Says:

    I haven’t any words. But, I’m kinda glad you aren’t “normal” cuz I love you just the way you are.

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