Something I’m beginning to realize over the past couple of days is that I’ve been practicing a form of denial, normalization. This is probably not a surprise to those who may have been following this blog for the past couple of years.
I’m sitting in the family room of the couple who have opened up their home to Luna and myself. I’m trying really hard not to cry as I see photographs arranged on the walls. The ones in front of me depict the many places, throughout the world, the husband and wife have been fortunate enough to travel since they got together thirteen years ago. Below that cloud of snapshots, is a U.S. map. It’s laminated and has a little black, dry-erase marker attached to the lower right corner. Several of the states are outlined in that black marker, representing the states their two daughters have visited.
This is not a show home. It’s a lived in home; clutter free, but not sterile; orderly, organized, and clean, but comfortable.
There is an Elf on the Shelf who gets moved around at night after the girls go to bed. The living room area is the playroom. The old carpet was ripped out when it became too worn. Instead of putting down more carpet or other standard flooring, they put down material that the girls were able to draw, color, and be creative on.
Luna is thrilled that there are three cats, one of whom visited us last night, when I couldn’t sleep and woke Luna up. So, Luna was awake in the middle of the night, fixating on cuddling, petting, and loving on a fat, black cat named Soba, with a loud purr and a determined presence. It only took an hour or so before the cat tired of the attention and demanded to leave, then Luna lay down and went back to sleep within another half an hour.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely know that not everyone who I might consider “normal” gets to live in what seems to be a real-life movie set for Lifetime.
The pictures and knick knacks are cherished memories, displayed as reminders of the good times and important memories of the moments in the lives of their children and their coupleship, their individual and unified histories. The order and organization which exists seems to be a natural part of the ebb and flow of daily life.
No one is “stressing” when the gloves are missing and take a few moments to locate, at the bottom of tote bag being carried to work. When the Tom cat dirties in unacceptable areas, bedding has to be laundered, and the room has to be deodorized, there are sighs and chuckles of frustrated acceptance instead of grumbling, snarling, cursing.
When one spouse is receiving texts, the other isn’t questioning who it is they are communicating with. When that spouse chooses to share the frustration of what the relative who is texting has experienced in a situation in her life with her spouse, no critical, insulting, labeling statements are being made about the person on the other end of the story who made the mistake and created the problem.
How many people live in this kind of normal?
Will I ever be able to live in this kind of normal? Will I ever be able to do this for Luna?
This was the kind of normal I have seen in various homes with various other families over the course of the past 25 years, since my two year old son watched his father almost break my neck, on December 12, 1988.
I’ve never understood it. I’ve always wanted it. I’ve always wanted it for my children. I never thought I could achieve it for myself or for them.
I thought it’s what I would get when I got together with Keith. Partially because he came from, or I thought he came from, the religious/spiritual subculture that I thought produced this kind of normal. After all, on the surface, this is what I thought I saw when I looked at his family home.
It’s the kind of normal I kept trying to show my son and oldest daughter when I chose the in-home child care providers and engaged in the different church communities during their childhoods. It’s the kind of normal I saw in the man and woman who became my adult son’s legal parents last year, when I first met them back in 2003 and wanted for him to experience when I asked/supported his request to live with them during the last year and a half of his high school years. It was the kind of normal I knew he would need when he transitioned out of military incarceration two years ago and why I kept them apprised of his situation and made sure he had their contact information and knew they wanted to hear from him.
It’s the kind of normal I was much less successful in connecting LaLa to.
The kind of normal I’ve lived in, learned, integrated, and perpetuated is a normalization of stress, trauma, anger, and conflict.
Over the past couple of days I’ve heard the term, trauma brain and been told it’s very likely I experience PTSD and that most of the psycho-social and behavioral difficulties Luna has been experiencing are a result of being conceived, gestated, and born into an environment of stress, trauma, anger, and conflict, which she has spent the first five years of her life living in.
I don’t want this kind of normal anymore, for me or for my children. But, I don’t know how to make choices and decisions for any other kind of normal. I need help.
Help me. Please.