I do not believe anyone can define the word “normal.” When one thinks of trying to fit in and be like other people, I would think many bring their thoughts to their years of adolescence. I sure as hell can relate to that. I not only started in a new school with all new kids in Seventh grade but it was also a small school in an affluent town. Did I mention half of my head was shaved haha. I went from going to a private school where the message taught to us on a daily basis was to love and accept everyone that comes our way. The focus was never on our clothes or the brand of sneakers we were wearing. We went to school each day being fully encouraged to be ourselves. Then BAM I’m thrown off my bicycle and four months later in a new school with half a shaved head and a face that had seen better years. I was not only made fun of for the way I looked but for not wearing the “cool” clothes and the “in backpack.”
Even after my outside wounds healed and I looked “normal” I was still made fun of for the way I dressed, did my hair, spoke, and acted. I did everything possible to fit in. I begged my dad to buy me Abercrombie and Fitch clothes and tried every different face wash possible to get rid of any acne. I remember how much I hated gym class because kids always made fun of me. I remember crying as I walked to school because first period was gym class and I hated gym class. It was pure torture for me. But the worst possible sport played in gym was badminton. I could not hit that damn birdie for the life of me and everyone laughed their asses off at how hard I tried. It was so bad that my dad (bless his heart) bought me a badminton set for our backyard. I would set my alarm an hour earlier than usual and my dad I and I would practice badminton in my back yard so that maybe I could hit that stupid birdie and people would leave me alone in gym class. To this day, I am petrified of badminton. I will not go near those birdies. That is the one sport I despise! I wish my future self had told that little ninth grade Jessica that many years from now you will be laughing your ass off about the fact that you practiced badminton before school every day. Not only that I would tell my younger self that you are going to be a great athlete and exercise/sports are going to get you through a lot of physical and emotional pain. I think I found a way to literally have Mono the rest of the my freshman year of high school: badminton or not I despised gym.
Even to this day at times I feel I want to be “normal” and fit in. And however one would like to define “normal” I am probably the polar opposite. But there are times that I feel like I do not belong. I am in a mom’s group that I attend most Wednesdays. The women in my group do not know about my brain surgery or chronic pain or how I feel each day. They talk about sewing and PTA meetings and just things that truly do not interest me. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I can’t wait to leave. I remember my first mother’s group and for a split second I was going to act like the other moms. My brain literally shouted: “screw that! Be yourself Jessica. Never change for anyone.” Am I the outcast of the mother’s group. Sources would say: yes. I dress differently, I parent differently, and I have different interests and goals. I also definitely joke around a lot and at times may be inappropriate but that is me. One of my favorite lines from any movie is from: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with John Candy and Steve Martin. The two of them are in a fight and Del (John Candy) says: “I like me, my wife likes me, my customers like me. Because I’m the real deal. What you see is what you get.”
I think I am finally at a point in my life where I could use the same quote except my husband doesn’t always like me I’m sure and at times I am not happy with myself either but I do stay true to myself, something I will make sure to teach my children.
Being “normal” for people with chronic pain is virtually impossible and I am (most of the time) okay with that. I live a lifestyle that I have to in order to manage my chronic pain without medication. Some people will never understand me and you know what I am finally at a place where I’m okay with that. It hurts when the people I love most do not understand me but they will get there. One of the best things chronic pain has given me is the ability to see “normal” as overrated and just sad. Life is so short, why spend it acting like someone that is not you. The people that truly love you will love you for the person you truly are and the people that do not like you can just stay the hell away. I still get down on myself for not having the income I used to have because I am “just” a stay at home mom but I look at my daughter and I see how amazing, funny, happy, and smart she is becoming and I know I am doing the right thing for myself and my family. People who think it isn’t work just because I do not receive a pay check are just ignorant and it is sad that I even give them the time of day. I was put on this earth to be a mother, help people with chronic pain, and to be ME! The Jessica who tries to be “normal” is an anxious mess. The real Jessica is empathetic, loving, and hilarious. That is the Jessica I love. I’m the real deal. What you see, is what you get.