“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya
I’ve been having a recurring dream. It isn’t exactly the same dream, but it is the same theme. I am sometimes in a prison camp, sometimes in a cult, and sometimes in some type of camp like a reservation. No matter which it is, I am trying to escape.
These dreams have been going on for at least a couple of months. Granted, I am grateful that I am no longer having the gray-mud-vomiting zombie dreams, but those were only 3 or 4 dreams total. My escape dreams have been 3 or 4 a week for several weeks.
Enough to wonder what the heck is going on in my subconscious.
I wonder if maybe my brain is trying to work out how I am trying to escape the lies I have believed about myself since I was a child. Maybe that sense I had that I didn’t belong or fit in was my way of coping with so much contradictory reality as such a young age.
I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of days ago, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t have a deluge of racing thoughts like I used to have, but I couldn’t seem to settle my brain back down enough to get back to sleep for 2 or 3 hours.
I had another thing that I hadn’t ever told anyone. Funny how things like that pop up when you get repeatedly triggered over something related. In the process of revisiting, praying, unpacking, praying, peeling that freaking onion, and praying some more, the thought came to me:
Nothing was normal. Everything was distorted. I don’t think I have a clear objective memory because there was so much contradictory information.
I didn’t want to let that thought be lost once I went back to sleep, so I wrote it down.
There is usually running involved in the dreams. Running away from somebody, some group, some zombie, some trap. The running never ends, except for that one time I was trapped in an empty cargo bay about to die from irradiation or poison. But at least the zombies weren’t in there with me.
Every race I’ve run has always had a clear end. There have been times I was sure I would never make it to the end, but I’ve always managed to keep going – even if I could just barely put one foot in front of the other. Because I knew there was a clearly defined end. And a couple of times because my friend Karyn either came back to get me or stayed with me vowing to drag me across the finish line if necessary.
Sometimes I feel like I am chasing after “normal,” when I have no idea what “normal” is. There is a conversation that takes place in Star Trek Generations between Dr. Soran and Geordi LaForge regarding Geordi’s eyes.
Dr. Soran: Have you ever considered a prosthesis that would make you look a little more… how can I say… more normal?
Geordi: What’s normal?
Dr. Soran: “What’s normal?” Well, that’s a good question. Normal is what everyone else is and you are not.
Geordi was blind from birth. There was no prosthesis that was going to give him sight in the same way seeing people had. The banana clip visor he wore gave him the ability to see things that sighted people could not. Soran was trying to force him to focus on the external appearance of normal – looking normal. In later movies, Geordi has prosthetic eyes rather than the banana clip visor. His eyes still didn’t look “normal.”
Geordi’s handicap did not handicap him. He couldn’t see things the way other people see, but he had a unique view of things that made his lack of normal sight valuable to those who had normal sight. His biggest physical weakness was also his biggest physical strength.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Maybe the reason I never escape in my dreams is because escaping the past doesn’t change it. I’m never going to have that “normal” childhood. I’m never going to have a “normal” loving relationship with my dad. And you know what? I might not ever “feel normal.”
But I am not alone.
Even in those dreams, I am not always alone. Sometimes there is a small group with me who are also trying to escape, and we are working together to escape and/or overthrow oppressors (or zombies). Here in the real world, in my real life, I am not alone. I have a tight network of friends who know most (and some all) of my junk. And they are willing to drag me across the finish line – to help rescue me from the cult/nazi/zombies.
I’m not the only person to not grow up in a “normal” environment. We generally try to appear “normal” because we want to be “normal” – to fit in. But we tend to find each other. And that’s where our “abnormal” lives intertwine and become strength. We understand each other. We can help each other in ways “normal” people can’t.
And when “normal” people find themselves embroiled in the type of “abnormal” that was our “normal,” we can be there for them in ways their “normal” friends and family can’t.
Thus, weakness becomes strength.
And “normal” means nothing.