I have spent fifteen years of my life
trying to redefine normal.
Normal used to mean I got up,
went to school (to learn, allegedly),
and had a routine day before – at last –
coming home for dinner.
Then I would log onto my computer
for several hours before, finally,
reading myself to too little sleep.

Then it all changed.

Suddenly normal was not sleeping,
stirring blearily when alarms went off,
and thinking to myself:
‘I can miss this lecture. It’s fine.’
Because the idea of being with people,
of having to talk to anyone,
or having to do anything at all,
was just too much to bear.
I would sleep the day away until, eventually,
crawling out to eat trashy food
and play computer games.

Or I would have the other sort of day
where I would force myself to classes
power through the day fuelled
by my perpetual fear of everything,
go to rehearsals and try far too hard
to make everyone like me –
then end up in a bar, too drunk to care,
never giving myself a moment
to question what had become normal.

What is normal, anyway?

When this normal passed, the next was familiar –
sleeping terribly through the day
staying up all night, clinging desperately
to the people on the internet
who were safe and kind and liked me,
because I was mostly pretending
to be someone I wasn’t – someone better.
Sometimes, on these normal days,
I even remembered to feed myself.
It was never proper food.

But slowly, ever so slowly, this normal
has changed again, and again, and again.
You see, normal isn’t a state of being.
It’s a meandering path along which
you wend your weary way through life.
It’s a sliding scale that extends
in twenty different directions,
and all of those directions are normal.

Here is what normal means now:
lots of things are very difficult,
everything is a fight, and maybe
everything will always be a fight.
But the most normal part of my day
is the moment where I am grateful,
so very, very grateful,
for how much my normal has changed.

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