Someone recently got me thinking on the idea of the concept of normal. That person and I were both considering how nice it would be for life to return to normal. That made me consider what is it that is normal for me? Darkness is normal. This was not the trigger, it’s just the word I needed to write.
The first thing I thought of was the top goal on my list every year since roughly 2000. Every year around Christmas and the new year I make new goals, New Year’s resolutions if you will. They are part of my rituals for the pagan holiday Yule, which occurs this time of year. I make six to ten of them and the first one on the list has always been the same… Yes, I have had the same most important goal for 15 years. And yet, every year I’ve accomplished it, it went right back on my list. Because it always felt at risk. It was a very simple goal, yet at the same time always felt like it would be the hardest to achieve. “Survive Another Year.” It was an indicator of the darkness in my heart. It was an indicator that darkness is normal.
Yet, this year it doesn’t seem at risk. However, I want my life to return to “normal.” So that means it has to go on the list? How does one reconcile the want to return to normal after the holidays with the fact that that means returning to darkness, depression, and despair? For me to look back to a time when “normal” meant “happy” I’d have to look all the way into my early childhood. It was suggested that I should change the definition of normal. If I don’t change the definition of normal over the next year I’m going to spend more time in darkness. Darkness is Normal. The definition as it stands is as follows:
“nor·mal [ˈnôrməl] ADJECTIVE: conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”
If I look back at what is typical for my life, that means depression, that means pushing emotion down and bottling it up. It means being unsure of myself. If I look at what is usual it means going with the flow, not changing and not growing. In my life the usual has meant survival. I feel like finally my survival is no longer at risk. Yet I find out of habit have written down “Survive Another Year” as the top item on my list of goals this year. When I wrote that on the morning on January 2, 2016. I WAS SHOCKED. How could I even consider that a goal? For the first year, since 2000 I feel like that isn’t going to be a challenge. It kicked me out of my thought process and made me question everything I had done this year. No other goals were written.
I slipped instantly back into the mind of ‘Joe’ and I’ve been stuck there all day. I’ve questioned everything I’ve done over the past year and asked myself have I really made progress? The shadow instantly fell down on my life again. I don’t feel any more comfortable with physical intimacy. I have taken steps backward on being able to deal with and cope with emotion. Sure I have more physical characteristics of a female but I am still embarrassed about my body. I still have very masculine traits and components that would take surgery to fix. I am stuck between male and female. I am no closer to having the courage to face surgery. I still seethe and anger to see my name. It’s still all over my mail, it’s plastered on my bank accounts and credit cards. Everything, everything, still says Joseph. Even a great deal of stuff at work still says Joseph. I have changed my gender in one place, yet everywhere else it remains male.
It has been a whole year of transition; I feel as if I have gotten nowhere. The darkness has returned. For a little while on this day, I regretted continuing to survive. Ah, well I guess I am back to normal. As I sit here in the evening of January 2nd there remains only one thing on my list. Survive another Year. I thought this would be the first year in a long time that would not be on my list. So much for that. I guess it does still belong on my list. Maybe next year I’ll be able to put it behind me. At least I have another year to try to put that behind me. Maybe…
Maybe normal isn’t such a good idea… Somehow I’m trapped again. All of a sudden I feel like I’ve been hit across the head. I’ve been knocked to the floor. Knocked out by these three words on once piece of paper. I hope, no, hope is the wrong word. I expect to make more progress in the next year and hope I won’t have to list these three words again. I thought I was past this. I’ve learned that I’m not, even the smallest things can kick me back on my ass. Maybe I’ve been in a beautiful dream for the last year? Was I imagining this happiness? All of a sudden it’s gone again. If I go outside into the cold night and start counting stars will the right amount be there? I’ve counted the stars over and over again. That act is normal. I can only count the stars from the darkness. Darkness is Normal. When I was in the light, only one star shined… That was abnormal. There was only one… Josie shined so bright. Where has her light gone?