I’m on vacation this week. Taking time away frequently is a nice balance to my 100mph, doing a ton of really cool stuff all the time lifestyle. When I travel, I rest, regroup, get a fresh perspective and I do a lot of these two things:
- Talk with my wife, who gets me in a way no one else ever has or ever will, including myself
- Get exposed to people who annoy me:
This is a large and diverse group. In the past, I have referred to them as “normal people.” My infinitely reasonable wife tells me that in my quest to champion the cause of people who are F’ed up like me; that bashing on mainstream, neuro-typical people is at best unhelpful. She is of course, right.
Plenty of folks consider themselves everyday, regular folks and they are indeed good people. It’s never been my intention to put them down. It’s been my intent to attack normalcy as an ideal. When you live with mental illness, you view “normal” as just one more thing that you’re not.
The definition I embrace: Throughout history, whatever the greatest number of people are doing has been viewed as normal.
And if you’re a misfit, mentally ill, a survivor, an addict, a person in recovery, homeless, a person who self-harms, or lives with an eating disorder or if your heart otherwise has a metaphorical hole in it…then you’re probably not looking at yourself as normal and maybe that bums you out.
Or maybe you’re an artist, musician, healer, sculptor, poet or playwright. Are those things “normal”? Is it normal to be passionate? Vulnerable? Outwardly loving? Incredibly sensitive? Is it normal to only want to spend time with people who are those things?
I pride myself in never taking the people in my life for granted. I don’t maintain relationships from a sense of obligation. I don’t spend time with people based solely on the fact that we’re related.
I don’t keep up with people I went to high school or college with. I don’t network professionally. I don’t promote other people’s work or writing in hopes that they’ll promote mine. I don’t care to attend conferences or marketing events and I wouldn’t be caught dead at a cocktail party (it weirds people out that I don’t drink).
But then I go on vacation and there are all these…people.
I stand out in any crowd. Missing a leg and looking more than a little like Gandalf the Grey will do that for you. People seem bored with their lives. They notice me, try to read my tattoos without me seeing or they openly stare at my prosthetic, or they make small talk in an elevator.
And I want to ask them if they feel bad about Chester Bennington dying, or have they listened to Keesha’s “Praying”? Or have they read Mark Mason’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck?
But you’re not supposed to do that. And you’re not supposed to yell at the hotel clerk that you don’t want their policies on screwing up your reservation explained (again) cuz that embarrasses your wife.
You’re supposed to act like everything is F’ing fine and that maybe it’s okay that Donald Trump is president and that Mary Mayhew is running for governor and you have to type “F’ing” because media companies that host blogs have concerns about the use of obscenities.
(It’s like this in my head 24/7)
One of the problems of living with A.D.D. is that I can’t not notice all forms of: people, sounds, smells, stupidity, fakeness, freaks, music, atmosphere, and art work (God I hate the safe corporate chosen paintings and photos in my hotel).
Add to that an excessive amount of empathy and intuition and I just get flooded – not just by the sensory input, but also by noticing all the feelings and insecurities that fake people hide.
The joy of having A.D.D. is this seemingly non-sequitur: The only thing I remember from reading Ulysses is, “I am a part of all that I have met.”
Being in recovery (in my case, from mental illness) I am acutely aware of both being a part of and being apart from. When I am with my people, I feel connected, understood, and cared for.
And I feel all the more okay with being the glorious mess of a work in progress that I am.
By the way, have you heard Macklemore’s Glorious?
When I’m among the masses, I get reminders that I’m…different. I get reminded that the world is BIG and there are not a lot of places I fit in. Places don’t matter to me much – genuine people do.
And it kinda makes me wanna go home. See you freaks soon.