The Day I Became Normal

Photo by: @Jackbolga
New York, New York

I hate the word normal.

Because normal is relative.
Because it’s not a consistent scale to base our judgments on.

What I really mean is healed, free from poor mental health.

I went to therapy for a long time after I was raped 3 years ago. I took a break for a while and then decided to go back about a week before I got into my accident because I was starting to feel depressed again. I kept wondering what was wrong with me. Something didn’t feel “normal”, and then when I had my accident, I ended up laying in bed for a solid week even though I had no physical ailment aside from the light burn on my left arm.  I felt like my reaction wasn’t normal.

But an abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is in fact, natural and normal. 

What is the “proper” reaction to feeling like your stuck in a place you don’t belong, living out your life for other people, and then witnessing your car get totaled by a drunk driver from the inside? 

Answer: There is none.
Becuase everyone processes situations differently in their brain based on their life experiences and about 10000 other things.

Anyway, fast forward a few months and about 4 therapy sesssions. I’m feeling better, & probably a little too excited to get this last semester of college over with and freakin graduate already.

I went to therapy last week, told her about my winter break and then started to tell her about my therapeutic goals for the semester when she interrupted me – “Before you tell me your goals, can I give you some feedback?”
“Yes of course!” I said enthusiastically. (I love feedback.)
“Well from what I see, you don’t have much to work on here. There’s no sign of mental health issues at all.”
“What?” Tears welled up in my eyes immediately.
“You don’t need to come to therapy anymore Annabelle. I even have a hard time writing my notes sometimes.”
“Are you serious?”
 ” Yeah! You have struggles, just like anyone else, but you are more than capable of handling them! I see no reason to keep you here!”

I laugh-cried.
She was surprised to see me cry & I told her it was because I was relieved, and felt so grateful that she told me. I didn’t realize how much weight I had been carrying from feeling “abnormal”. It was like someone finally checked under my bed and in the closet and found no evidence of any kind of monster lurking in the shadows. 

But I was also kind of scared.
Now, I don’t have something to blame my feelings on. I can’t use my ‘depression’ as a crutch or an excuse for the negativity I feel anymore. I can’t blame the monsters in my closet for my temper tantrums or making my room a mess. 
This is real life now, and real life is full of unpleasant feelings, and I am responsible for taking care of myself and cleaning my room.  

But with the fear came freedom too; and validation, and reassurance that not everyone feels things the same way, and that what I need to do to take care of myself and deal with those feelings, is okay, even if it looks different from everyone else. 

My struggle through healing from being raped and feeling unworthy has taught me how to take care of myself and not to judge those strange “abnormal” feelings when they arise. 
Suffering is just a part of life, even a happy and healthy one. This is it.

I’m not a victim of rape.
I’m not a lost girl.
I’m not unworthy.
I’m not fighting.
I’m not suffering.
I am alive.
I am living.
I am growing.
I am a survivor but,
I am also more than that.
I am 100% me.

Nothing is looming in the dark to pull me back under. 
There are no monsters in my closet, and that’s a pretty big deal.

Later I asked her about her opinion on the purpose of suffering.
She said “I think it’s growth. Pain always leaves an opportunity for growth – without it, we would never change. We only change when something is uncomfortable or hurts.”

Health is not the absence of disease or suffering, it’s more. It’s taking a changing circumstance and turning it into an opportunity for growth.

I found this online, and I think it’s pretty great. It’s what this guy, Dr. Ratson believes is a true meaning/definition/path to health.

“A person must recognize the inherent PURPOSE of his or her own life. The constant awareness of why you are here and whether you are working towards that purpose can help you to wade through the conflicting and confusing mass of expert advice. This is important because there is a lot of confusing and conflicting expert advice available and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

When you feel unconditional LOVE for yourself and others, you cannot help hut feel that the entire universe supports you. There won’t be room for a cynical or hostile view of the world or its people. Many negative emotions arise from a cynical, paranoid and hostile view of the world. Believe it or not, but our view of the world affects our health. 


When you take total RESPONSIBILITY for your own well-being, you can trust and rely on your innate biological, psychological and spiritual healing power. Also, when you assume total responsibility, you can never abuse your personal power.

With inner FREEDOM, you can no longer be a slave to external pressures or other handicapping conditions. Inner freedom gives you hope for the possible and faith in the probable. You are then able to experience genuine joy. When you characteristically experience genuine joy, something interesting happens. Others cease to irritate you or give you any more grief, even though their behavior might not have significantly changed.”

– Dr. Ratson

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