I drank to be normal and not feel like a fool

I drank because I was n’t normal

“Dear God, please, make me normal”  I whisper these words while on my knees at the side of my bed. I need to whisper them because if my husband heard me, he would then know, I wasn’t normal. It would explain why I drank the way I did and drove him crazy in the process.

I had this daily ritual for the best part of ten years of my life. Ten years when I drank too much. God bless God, but he never actually answered my prayers and made me normal.


What is normal?

I even did all the actions that went along with a determined person asking God to fix them. You know the ones. Squeezing the eyes tight, putting the hands in the prayer position and being on my knees. All the tell tail signs of desperate women trying to gain acceptance in a world were only the “normal” survive. So in trying to feel  normal I drank too much.

I know it sounds like a cliché, but I now have a daily gratitude chat with myself. It includes

Thank God I’m not normal.”

Simply because what is  normal ?


How is normal measured?

 So scientists decide to look at studies of “normal” patterns of behaviour. Let’s say for example they want to know how quickly children learn the alphabet. They take a classroom, look from the slowest to the fastest. Then they  take the group in the middle and declare this group the “normal or average”.  This group’s  speed and time is  the average time to learn the alphabet.  All the school programs and curriculum are designed around the average child. (I’ve over simplified this a  lot but you get the picture!)


Lovely shiny labels

Mental health is sometimes measured  much the same way.  A some what exaggerated example.  Scientists  take groups of people, going from the “ manic”  to the “ catatonic”.  Then the middle group are defined as the “average or normal” behaviour. The rest get lovely shiny labels. Usually  with some expensive drugs to help them fight their “disease or disability” and change their behaviour to normal.


Homosexuality was not normal

Don’t laugh. This type of process was once used to label people who are homosexual as not normal. At one stage, less than 50 years ago,  homosexuality was labelled as a disease in the DSM. The DSM is  the psychiatrists bible of mental health disorders.  So because people who are homosexual are a smaller group they were seen as ” not normal”. They were told they were ill. We still see the awful effects of this to-day with rates of mental health distress higher in men and women who are homosexual

So remember

There’s No Such Thing As Normal

We seek to be normal

You’re probably still thinking -ERM….YES, THERE IS!  And you and I desperately try to fit in there for fear of looking like a fool. So all through your educational, social, family and love life, we seek to be one thing. Normal, and this is where my problems began.

To fit into the norm, many of us must turn our natural talents up or down to suit the social circle we live in. Some of us have gifts in ways that are truly beautiful. But because we live in a world where it’s not good to stand out  we tone them down. It means our actual brightness and brilliance is never exposed. It’s almost  tragic when you realise that you and I are being denied the talents of musicians, artists, playwrights because they are trying to fit into the normal world.


I missed the opportunity to enjoy my children

For me, the real pain hit hard. I realised I was so desperate to fit in and be acccepted as a good, “normal” mother that I missed the opportunity to enjoy my children.

I was sticking to rigid  routines and forcing my kids to keep up with “normal” children.  From sleeping through the night, to  toilet training and  reading ability.  The pressure to have our  children “normal”  is disastrous for any mother. We know that children develop at their own pace and speed. By forcing them to fit into the middle normal section of society, we are sending the message to them that they shouldn’t be different.  They are not wonderful as they are.


I don’t worry now about how “normal” I am

I’m thankful now. I don’t have to worry (or even care) about how normal I am. I’m blessed with a mind of my own and talents  I have developed over time. Of course, I’m not totally confident inside.  I still have insecurities. I very often have to double check my words before they come from my mouth. I do this as I don’t want to hurt or offend anyone and not everyone thinks and feels the way I do about everything. But this is what makes being human so interesting.


A world with no shame

Imagine a world where there was no judgment, shame, norms or rigid  rules about how we should behave. A world where we drank sensibly, purely for pleasure and without harming ourselves?  (Ok we still need good rules about not killing each other and stopping at red traffic lights.) But imagine  a world where love, freedom, and respect were the three most important components to a blissful society. Well, this is how our world is supposed to be. So why isn’t it?


We are easier to control if we strive to be normal

Society tries to  keep us in a constant state of normality.  We are easier to control this way. The way I drank  meant I did n’t  have the energy to think and question things around me. Some people would lose out on a great deal of money and power if the whole world started to think for themselves.  What  if everyone walked away from making products and doing things that don’t serve humankind or our planet?  What if we started bringing our  gifts, talents and beautiful selves to the surface. What do you think might happen. Yes, you’re right. Our lives would be incredible.

As the song goes

“Tell me why are we so blind to see, that the ones we hurt are you and me

From, Coolio, Gangsters Paradise.


Don’t be afraid of society’s judgement

So be the person, you would want to be if you were not so afraid of society’s judgement. Be a good role model of a person happy with themselves.  So  your children will be grow up to be happy in their own skins and not trying to constantly to fit in.  Be the person you would like to hang out with.

You’ll be more fascinating, fun and dare I say it…One day being just ourselves may be “Normal”

This post was written by val

Valerie is passionate about helping people with alcohol abuse problems and has gone public on her own problems with alcohol appearing on TV and radio. She founded Valeriefarragher.com a support service which provides services in Co. Mayo. She is the author of the book “Come back when you’re sober”. Valerie is the voice of Lifewise and ensures all our content and materials are relevant and interesting for all of our clients.

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