This I Believe

Mary - Kent, Washington
Entered on June 26, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that dysfunction is normal. Normalcy by itself, standing alone, is a myth. Normal can only exist with a companion word, and in my case that word happens to be dysfunction. Through my own dysfunction I have come to believe that everyone has imperfections and challenges and that there is no right way to be, to act, to react or to live. No one normal standard that everyone else should measure themselves against.

In the last year my family has experienced 1 divorce, 2 births, 1 death, 3 moves, 1 addict getting hooked, 2 career changes, and 1 addict getting sober. We’ve had fights, lies, make ups, break ups, hugs, tears, anger and joy. Has it been an eventful year? Yes. Completely unexpected? No. In the context of my family and our lives what may seem like utter chaos is normal…. and it’s dysfunctional. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.

When my aunt recently died from emphysema we were all there for her final moments on earth and all watched as she took her last breath. Everyone had their own way of dealing. Most people cried, some loudly, some in the corner of a room so as not to show the rest, some people hugged and some did not and the rest went outside to smoke. Right before she died her husband cleaned, he wandered around getting things ready, maybe for her, for the people on their way, or simply for his own sanity. After she died some people hugged her body or held her hands and some people felt like there was no reason to be in the room anymore. It was no perfect goodbye. No normal end to a normal life. It was painful, it was akward, and it was real.

Growing up I always tried, but I know better now, I no longer measure my family against anyone else’s. First of all, the extent of our own dysfunction can’t be measured so why should I even attempt to evaluate someone else’s, but mostly because I know that everyone has their own… normal dysfunction… the type of dysfunction that is to be expected from them in the context of their lives. As far as their dysfunction goes I can’t judge it, define it, or package it in a way that is easily understood. And maybe that’s a good thing. Normalcy, standing alone, is not only a myth but it’s a foreign object to me. So the next time I’m trying to feel normal, I’ll stop and remind myself that I’m normally dysfunctional and I’ll let out a huge sigh of relief.

This I believe