When I was a child growing up in rural Michigan with my nine brothers and sisters, life was normal. Our Father, who was married to someone else the entire time he and my Mother were having children together, had multiple women friends all over the state of Michigan. Our life was normal. Normal? Yes, because it’s all we knew – and what could we do about it anyway? We were children.
When my Father’s wife finally left him and he had had enough time to convince my Mother that he had changed, she finally married him. This became the new normal.
My Father wanted to raise us right, so he took away the freedom that my mother allowed us – to run wild and free in the swales, swamps, and forests of our small town. He turned off the tv and turned on old music from Jim Reeves, like:
He’ll have to go
Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone
Let’s pretend that we’re together all alone.
I’ll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low.
And you can tell your friend there with you, he’ll have to go.
At where I am now in my life now, I see that he was trying to help and trying to do something good for us in the only way he knew how, but there was one thing missing.
This guy moved into our house, he was a man I barely knew, even though he was my Father – he changed the rules, changed the locks, changed the tone, without ever telling us why he was doing it, what good it would be for us, or ask what we thought about it.
We were children.
There was one thing he couldn’t take from us though – the fact that we never invited him, we never asked for him – we did not vote for this. And those of us in the family that were young and had many years left to live with this guy, had to figure out how to cope.
Initially, at ten, I tried to kill myself, by hanging myself from a curtain cord in a Days Inn motel room, in Ocala, Florida, where we were on vacation. Vacation for us, meant that we lived in a motel room in Florida, instead of in a house in Michigan, there was no trip to Disney, no fun for a kid. My parents played cards and my brother and I, who were the two youngest, sat in the air conditioned room, longing to be home. This new normal was not anything I wanted to be a part of. I was getting out whatever way I could. I wasn’t successful in this cry for help and no one even noticed that I tried. My Mother came in while I was hanging from this cord and said. “Get down from there Amy Beth!” I never tried again. I knew it wasn’t the answer – and I know that it is not the answer.
I don’t know how or why – even at ten – I knew that one day I would not have to deal with this guy anymore. He could control this small part of my life, but he couldn’t control how I related to it, or my future.
This memory serves me well today, in this time, when we have a President-elect that is not normal. Someone who thinks he’s the only guy with the answer. Where millions of people did not vote for him, where his idea of a rigged election became our nightmare.
Where he’s trying to make us believe that everything will be fine. Where he’s implying that he’s got this. And all along, he’s installing men, who are exactly like him in positions of power. It’s not normal and yet – it’s the new normal
A conversation. Our president-elect has not engaged with us in any appropriate manner. That’s what narcissists do. It is not normal.
We should not let it be normal.
We cannot let it be normalized unless we want to fade away.
What can we do?
We can contribute in the way we know how. Whatever your talent, you can offer it out to the world, if you are a healer – heal, a writer – write, an activist – act, a mother – raise your children to think for themselves, a father – have that conversation with your children, a teacher – teach, a reader – read. Do what you know how to do.
Now is the time to create the new normal within ourselves.
We are not children anymore.
and some day – he’ll have to go