The woman who was abnormal
Here lies Mama G who was not normal. That would be an apt and complimentary epitaph. I’ve been accused of being ‘abnormal’ more times than I care to remember and not by just one person. My ultra tradition Chinese family has always regarded me as the black sheep, the rebel, the one ‘tainted’ by the western culture and values. They used to joke that I was found under a tree which explains why I don’t fit in.
My ex often claimed I was mad, paranoid and over-emotional. When his parents and I didn’t get on, I was the problem and so it would be better if I didn’t come. He used to say I was not normal because I was way too kind to strangers. Well, I thought, if being kind is abnormal then I’ll leave you to be normal.
The other day I brought my trolley along for lunch with a friend as I wanted to buy 10kg of dog food afterwards in Tai Po Market. He told me there was something seriously wrong with me, as I could hardly feed myself and put a roof over my head. I replied that I liked being mad, what are you going to do about it and if I was insane why are you having lunch with me? An old lady passing by laughed because it is my perogative to be ‘mad’ and of course that like ‘truth’ is also open to interpretation. Like the saying goes, ‘one man’s poison is another’s pleasure.’ The cleverest most creative people all tend to be a tad eccentric or hyper; Stephen Fry is a classic example as were many of the comics who tended to be depressives such as Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers.
Why are people so quick to label, judge and attempt to define us, try us what we are and what we should and shouldn’t do, say or be. Kids who are exuberant are too quickly pigeon holed as hyperactive and medicated with Ritalin. Why can’t we just be us and it’s ok. Why are we always measured, assessed, tested, examined from a very early age and unless you are a genius you will always be found wanting, because there will always be someone else better, faster, smarter, more beautiful, fitter and so go.
Recently I don’t know if it is a blessing or a curse but family and friends seem to have come out of the woodworks to advise me on how to live my life, how to improve myself by pointing out what my faults are. Though well meaning I am not sure I welcome this unsolicited advice. Some of what they pointed out were brutal and I am not sure if that was necessary. For example one old friend I hadn’t seen for almost 20 years told me in no uncertain terms that cancer recurrence, divorce, the death of an aged parent were things that happened all the time and the implication was I shouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. These events are all ‘normal’ and maybe it is because I’m not that I can’t accept them and feel sorry for myself. That in fact I was wallowing and that it wasn’t fair on my daughter, as she is looking to me to set a good example on how to overcome adversity.
I’ll give hm the benefit of the doubt and put it down to him doling out tough love to force me to move on. But he definitely is not cut out for the diplomatic service or public relations.
Just because to suffer is fundamental to the human condition doesn’t negate the pain I experienced. Neither does the fact that many others are in the same boat. In the same way that telling me there are others worse off than me when I was undergoing chemo on my own feeling like death warmed up and bald offered no comfort except a feeling of irritation and rage. ‘Think of the starving children of Africa!’ Ok and how does that help their plight or mine? Their suffering doesn’t take away mine and vice versa; the two has nothing to do with each other.
Yes everybody’s mum and dad will get old and eventually die. This is indisputable but it doesn’t mean we are not terribly sad at the loss. Is it actually abnormal to have emotions, to feel? Is it an illness, a disease that needs curing?
I’d rather be not normal, imperfect, surrounded by all my flaws, faults, eccentricities and issues but still be me. It has taken me over half a century to be finally comfortable in my own skin and nothing and no one is going to change that.
Posted on December 5, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged abnormal, advice from others, comfortable in your own skin, identity, on being judged, Self, what is normal. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.