Mar 302014

dryerI follow someone on Twitter who includes “Normal is a dryer setting” in her bio. What a thought-provoking thing to say, eh? I like its poignancy and elegance very much.

She advocates for people with special needs—Down syndrome, folks on the spectrum, and so forth. That’s what she means when she says that. It speaks to something different for me.

I’ve grappled with “normal” for most of my adulthood, in terms of how people’s lives go. I determined a long time ago that there was no such thing.

Everybody’s got a backpack they can’t take off. Some folks—I (still) like to believe a lot of folks—have light ones. Others are so crushingly massive that just getting through a day is a minor miracle.

And I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout my backpack lately.

There’s just about a third of a hair’s width between thoughtfully examining your childhood and blaming your childhood for whatever flavor of asshole you’ve become. I’m not interested in the latter. People are themselves responsible for who they are. Anyone who knows me 5% knows I believe that.

But I’m finished pretending that a number of childhood things that happened to me, or in close proximity to me, were “normal.”

Know that I don’t walk around resentful. I know, intellectually, that the people I could/would blame were doing the best they could.

But I struggled for some time with just how I would allow that to inform my reality, particularly as a husband and father. I don’t have any greater earthly responsibilities. It is critical that I bring clarity and integrity to those tasks.

And though I genuinely believe I’ve done a serviceable job at both—maybe even an unambiguously good job, particularly relative to society—I can feel just as dark as I want, anytime I want, considering my failures.

Marinating in my failures.

I’m realizing that to some degree, I’ve been defining success at these tasks in negative context with what I’ve directly experienced as a child. I’ve been saying to myself “well, I’m better than x“—where x is something I remember from my childhood—and calling that good enough.

It’s not.

I can do better.

And because I can, I must.

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 Posted by at 11:27 pm

  5 Responses to “Normal is a dryer setting”

  1. Amen! I am right there with you brother!

  2. Totally with you, Bo.

  3. Thanks, Carol and Dave. Wasn’t sure how this post would set with me. But it tumbled out just about as quickly as I could type it, and experience has taught me that I should usually click Publish on those.

  4. Bam! You nailed it. One of the last “conversations” I ever had with my now estranged sister was about this very thing. I put the word in quotations, because it was mainly her ranting and raving about how MY life was ruined by the actions of another family member. Of course, her life and my brothers were also ruined, according to her, but nowhere near as much as MY life. Well, it was certainly news to me! The strange part is, I guess I was the only one who did not realize that my life was ruined. Go figure.

    You see, it all stemmed from something that happened because one family member told another family member something that should not have been told. And yes, it caused quite a lot of heartbreak and mischief all around, but the bottom line? My mother was dead of cancer within about a year of it all anyway, So seriously? It really didn’t matter at ALL in the overall scheme of things. And that is exactly what I told my sister.

    I have a wonderful life. I have a beautiful son. I have a loving and adoring husband. I have a job, a home, my dogs, my health, and I could go on and on. My life is what I have made it. Not what a loose lipped family member made it. And I also believe that the way things turned out were exactly the way they were meant to be. Two of my siblings spent their entire lives blaming others for their problems. We all came from the same parents and same set of circumstances. That should speak volumes.

    Sorry for the long winded reply. I just get very passionate about those who always blame others for their own problems. I’ve lived with it for many years.

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