Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have

What is Normal?


Artist: Marie Jameeson

Artist: Marie Jameeson

This past Tuesday I met with my new counsellor for some individual counselling. We discussed (I discussed) a variety of things but one thing I said sticks out in my mind, that is I said I wanted to stop apologizing for who I am all the time. I don’t literally apologize to everyone all the time for who I am but it feels like that’s what I’m doing. It feels like I try to be “normal”, fail and apologize to whomever is asking me why I haven’t done such and such. I hate it. Does anyone else do something like this? Try to fit someone else’s version of normal then end up making excuses for yourself Β when you can’t meet their standards?

I’m sick of trying to be someone I’m not. People are going to have to get used to the fact I am NOT going to please them. This happens mainly with my family where a relative asks me why I haven’t done something or other yet and I end up trying to think of a reason that will either get me off the hook or garner sympathy. Both are actions I dislike and don’t want to keep on doing. I shouldn’t have to do these things but no one else in my family acknowledges the gravity of abuse that occurred-both for themselves and in my own case. All of my aunts and uncles and remaining grandmother experienced abuse in some form. But they won’t address it and I feel unable to talk with them about my experience because of their own denial. How can I expect any form of validation from a group of abused people in denial? As far as I know I’m the only person in my family to go to therapy-apart from one aunt I never knew growing up.

From now on I will do my best to resist trying to be someone I’m not for my relatives. If they can’t accept me for who I am I’ll just make sure our communications are minimal and infrequent at most. We already don’t talk very often and a lot of this is to do with the fact there has been some tension since I began behaving more authentically a couple of years ago. Since then the communication has become limited and I can’t say I’m sad about it. Although I do wish my relatives could be more open to greater authenticity in how they live their lives and the way I live mine.

What do you do with dysfunctional family for communication issues? Do you avoid the people or have you learned how to be honest and not be bothered by the tension this often creates with unhealthy people?

Β©Natalya, 2013.



Author: Natalya

Blogging my thoughts and feelings about mostly mental health, meditation and spirituality(non religious). Hoping to connect with other interesting people in the blogosphere. *The name is Russian and is my pseudonym.

32 thoughts on “What is Normal?

  1. Hi Natalya, Did you change the color of your blog or am I just now noticing the pretty color? lol I like it. I can sort of relate to what you wrote -except I don’t bother apologizing or making excuses to others. I just beat myself up for not being “normal.” I get angry at myself for not working, cleaning, for not doing this or that -wishing I was doing what I feel I should be doing.

    I keep everything I can to myself. I’m not close to my extended relatives and I don’t care what they think of me -I’ve already accomplished more than most of them even though I’m not doing anything now! Also, I don’t want to open myself up to them and share what’s going on in my life. When we deal with abuse that runs in families, it can get messy. Unless a family member is in therapy, there’s really nothing to be gained from talking to family members about abuse within a family.

    To answer your question, I don’t avoid the people. I just avoid talking about things I don’t want to talk about. I don’t talk about working -my extended family does not know I’m on disability. But I will talk about my volunteering w/ animal rescues. They never ask about work. But, occasionally someone will ask about the animals. (My extended family is more self absorbed than nosy. They like to talk about what’s going on in their lives. Works for me!)

    Maybe you can try to control the conversations. Rather than give excuses, would you be able to just say, “No, I haven’t done that.” If they ask why say “I just have not done it.” Maybe they’ll get the hint that you don’t want to talk about that with them. Maybe they’ll stop asking. Or, if you feel safe with them, you could be honest with them and tell them it makes you upset or anxious when they ask questions. If you have news, you’ll share it with them.

    You do lots of good stuff! As a person recovering from abuse, you are doing AWESOME! We may not be “normal” but maybe we’re doing pretty darn good doing what we’re able to do. Maybe we ought to learn to give ourselves a little bit of credit?

    Take care!

    • Hi rl, yes I did change my blog’s theme and colour (yesterday). Thanks πŸ™‚ Unfortunately my family is nosy rather than self absorbed-although they’re that too to an extent! The problem is when I have to see them in person. I have a hard time evading the question, especially if my grandmother is present b/c she was an abusER and suffers from dementia now. Up ’til now I’ve been honest but sometimes use the mental illness card to avoid further conversation! πŸ˜› In my counselling that I just started I’m hoping to work on strengthening my boundaries. Thanks for sharing-sounds like you’ve got a method worked out that works for you! πŸ˜€

      • Hi Natalya,

        Yeah, I imagine it’s difficult to evade questions when family is nosy. Nosy people have a tendency to be a bit pushy. I’m sorry about your grandmother -that she was an abuser and that she has dementia. Even in the best of circumstances, dementia is a scary illness for the person affected and the relatives and caregivers.

        I can’t really take credit for working out a system. My extended family members are just too busy talking about themselves to bother with me. I can actually attend family functions w/ extended family and not say more than a few words the entire time! I just laugh and nod a lot. πŸ˜›

        It’s great that you started therapy w/ something specific in mind to work on. Boundaries are difficult. I tend to confuse boundaries with walls!! Big, concrete-block, steel-reinforced walls w/ barbed-wire on top πŸ˜€

        Take care!!

    • LOL, your extended family sounds easier than mine but I’m sure they’re difficult too but in different ways. The grandmother makes me feel see through so I can’t evade answering question. Then she’ll ask the same question again over and over after forgetting asking already! Thankfully I don’t see her often! πŸ˜›

  2. I avoid. I don’t really know what to do about people in denial. Not saying you should do the same though.

    Good for you on being more authentic.

  3. You’ll be more successful at being you :p

  4. I love the new them…so pretty! “I am sorry,” used to be among my most used phrases. Sorry for what?? For having thoughts, feelings, and opinions? Sorry for breathing the available air? Sorry for not being what you want?? Yes, I was sorry for all of that and more. I am not sorry anymore. I am me. Xoxoxo

    • Thanks! I hope to get to where you are sooner rather than later. I’ve definitely improved but still feel there’s a bit more I need to do. Hoping counselling will help me in this area.

  5. you can’t get validation from those in denial, then they would have to acknowledge things they don’t want too. i’m learning to remove toxic people from my life. being you is going to be so freeing for you!!

    • Thanks Zoe. I know you’re right. It’s hard accepting some family members are not healthy to be around-yet I’m fully aware how dysfunctional their thinking is. Being me is freeing, yes. I just have to be me regularly now! lol πŸ˜€ How are you?

      • You are taking back your power!! xo

        i’m tired but good, i have a lot of stuff to share through my blogging, it’s been a hard week yet productive at the same time. things have also been so busy since Hubby came home.
        how are you?

    • Aw, I’m glad you’ve been getting things done but hopefully you’re resting when needed. Therapy is definitely exhausting when we start digging under the surface. How did the visit go with Hubby’s two friends?

      I’m okay, thanks. Tired now that it’s nearly midnight but otherwise good. πŸ™‚

      • I am πŸ™‚

        They cancelled the second visit which was fine with us both we were tired. Nice couple though and they are a lot younger, we are old enough to be their parents…it was funny because they are a younger version of us in so many ways…lol

        i hope you’re able to get some rest!!

    • Ah, that’s good you were able to avoid having to entertain two days in a row. So they must be around 20 or so if you & hubby are old enough to be their parents! lol Oh well, I have never had friends my age but mine have always been older.

      • yes, i wouldn’t have minded if they did come, but i was happy to have the down time since they didn’t. the girl is 20 her boyfriend is 22 lol

        we usually hang out with older too. Hubby hurts so bad over not being able to have kids, i’m thinking that’s why he’s been connecting to 20 year olds lately.

      • Aw, I’m sorry your Hubby is still hurting about being unable to have kids. Has he gone for any grief counselling? That might help him…sorry if that’s too personal 😦

      • i sooo wish he would go for therapy, for that and other reasons. at one point he was considering it, and i was getting excited, but he’s shut down to the idea again…i think in part because he see’s the pain i go through. i have pushed some, for him to go, but i can’t push anymore…or he will be more closed to it.

    • Aw, that’s got to be difficult for the both of you. I’m sorry he’s not ready to have therapy. You’re right though you can’t push too much or you end up having even more resistance. Has he read any books on the subject? There must be some good books that deal with inability to have children and associated grief. Just a thought. Sorry I don’t have anything better 😦

      • Oh well when he knows it’s right for him, he’ll go. He doesn’t read. He can read but is dyslexic so has a hard time with it. He is however willing to let me get a book for couples, on dealing with PTSD, and i’ll read it too him. πŸ˜‰

    • Oh, I didn’t realize. Sorry about that. My dad’s dyslexic and I’m pretty sure I am too-albeit mildly. That’s a good idea reading the book to him if it’s for couples.

      • yes it’s one my “T” recommended. Hubby is and incredibly smart guy, just reading it hard. i think i remember you mentioning in the past that you had dyslexia too.
        now if i could just get Hubby’s attention span to work…LOL

    • Yeah, it’s amazing how lots of dyslexics are really smart people but can’t read with ease.

      Oh I think I could use a better attention span too! πŸ˜›

  6. “What do you do with dysfunctional family for communication issues? Do you avoid the people or have you learned how to be honest and not be bothered by the tension this often creates with unhealthy people?”

    I close the door and come back 3 days later.

    I never talk what I don’t want to talk about or what they don’t talk about. I know their boundaries, and I don’t let them trespass on mine – then I just leave, in anger to show them they trespassed. What is honesty to people who are not even honest with themselves?

    • That is very good how you handle your less healthy relatives. I’m working on my boundaries in counselling so I can do something similar! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  7. Many years ago, I’ve been through this, almost apologizing about everything but mostly about who I am. Your whole post points to one direction; self – esteem. Others won’t accept you, if you don’t accept yourself first. It needs a lot of personal work and many detachments from people who keep messing up with your self – esteem. In the end it’s not your issue but theirs. You can study a bit about the solar plexus, on meditation and how to work on that on your own time. πŸ™‚

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