There's a look you get from a pharmacist when you are picking up a lithium prescription and a home drug test at the same time. It's not pity, it's not even judgement, maybe it's sadness, or resignation, or maybe it's simply obvious that Normal and I are no longer together. Somewhere we took a wrong turn, and I just can't get us back to my life with Normal. Actually, I don't think I would recognize Normal if it walked up and asked me out for coffee, just for old times sake.
Normal and I are no longer an option. We never were an option, outside of my imagination, really. When I was young I knew how everything worked, and I knew how my life was going to turn out if I did all the right things. Normal was who I would be with. I dreamed of my life with Normal my whole childhood. Normal and I raising my kids just right so that they would never suffer through pain and anguish. Living with Normal meant my kids growing up in the same house, in a friendly neighbourhood, with nice friends. It meant me and their father and I growing together, working together, loving each other, so they could see what a good partnership looked like. Normal and I would be everything I never had, and with Normal I was going to fix everything and do things right with my family.
Many years ago I left Normal, it wasn't a friendly breakup. There were tantrums and tears and reconciliations, but eventually the relationship ended. Maybe the break up started when I realized that you can't 'fix-up' the person you marry, that my needs were valid, or maybe when I noticed that love had left my marriage a decade earlier (Love and I have a long and complicated relationship as well). Either way, Normal and I drifted further and further apart. I made better and bigger excuses. I pretended Normal and I were just fine, that what we were, and I was happy.
Then one day while I was sitting at a stop sign, I realized just how badly we had turned out. That no matter how hard I tried I could not make that pretend life with Normal real. That the framed photo of us in the family room, all smiles, was an absolute farce.
When Normal and I broke up we each got custody of certain friends and groups. Not surprising, Normal got most of the friends and a group or two. People just felt more comfortable around Normal, or maybe they were less comfortable around me without Normal, either way there were fewer people to talk to. That part was hard. I'm lying, that part hurt like a mother-fucker and it still does. Normal saunters around, pals with everyone, and I skirt around the edges of people nervously, waiting to see if they still will talk to me without Normal. Some do, some like to pretend we are still together. I have much less time for those people these days.
These days, most days, I'm glad Normal and I ended it, I'm more myself. I can speak with my own voice. I don't have to pretend Normal and I are happy until I'm nearly mad and want to scream till someone's ears bleed, but I do miss the good times. I miss the friends, the contrived ease of conversation about superficial niceties, the invites to social gatherings.
Maybe one day Normal and I can go for that coffee, maybe one day a new me and a new Normal might be friends.
Maybe, one day.