Tuesday, February 10, 2009


It's a wonderful thing to feel normal. To know that what you think, feel, believe and experience is validated by others. To be told there is nothing wrong with you, that someone understands, that it's ok because you're not the only one who does it. Normalizing is a powerful thing. It's also very dangerous.

One thing that humans as a society have come up with in order to live with each other are social rules, along with taboos. The ability to shame people for being different keeps most people in line. Those it doesn't work on weren't really seen as a threat because their numbers were so few. They were isolated, and heard mentality ruled.

Then came the internet. And suddenly, everything is normal. You can find anything on the internet, including people who will agree with almost any position. Suddenly there is no more shame, no more isolation, and you can follow the heard right into your own version of normal.

When I had my issues with self-injury was when I started spending more time online. One of the things I found was a support forum for cutters. That site simultaniously keep me sane and drove me crazy. It basically kept me right on the edge between healthy enough where I wouldn't need to cut and messed up enough to where I was a real danger to myself. Finally I had people who understood, I didn't have to feel guilty and ashamed, I was ok. It was ok. They did it too. It couldn't be so bad. It was normal.

See the problem?

To this day I have a hard time on those sites. As much as I would love to be a support for others, to show them that recovery is possible, I just can't do it. I don't have enough strength to remember that normal is not the same as good.

It's like holding an AA meeting at a bar.

I don't know how the culture can combat this. In some ways it's good - things are being brought to light that shouldn't have been hidden in the first place. Victims are being given validation, closure and healing as they come together. Cultures are being de-mystified and understanding is being shared.

In other ways it's a very dangerous thing, as not all information being shared is good and not all shame is bad. There are some things that should never be seen as normal.

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