Many will often hear me say “Normal is just a setting on the washing machine that nobody uses.” I say this because, for many years, I tried very hard to find normal. My journey has had its moments – both good and bad; however, I have finally come to a point where I choose to focus on all the good and all the blessings. Though I am a sex abuse survivor, I have many more important roles in life. I am a mother, grandmother, widow, girlfriend, college graduate, friend, worker, co-worker, and the list goes on. I am so much more than just someone who survived a traumatic childhood.
For me, my abuser was my biological father. For more than eight years, I was his personal toy. The dysfunction in my house allowed him to control me through fear and manipulation. When I moved away, he stalked me. When I stated my intention to go to college, he let me know that he thought I would never make it through and that I would be better working the streets. For many years, his opinion of me kept me feeling that I would never measure up, no matter what I accomplished or what I did.
My battles with this made me try to measure up to the opinions of others throughout my life and, in my search for “normal”, I allowed others to direct my life. I sought counseling many times. In the early stages, I had a licensed therapist tell me that the abuse was my fault because I had allowed it to go past a certain age in my life. At that moment, the fight instinct in me took life and I had to be pulled out of her office. NEVER EVER accept anyone telling you that. It took me a long time to get over that therapist and seek treatment. Even so, I began fighting that day.
As for college, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and as President of my student body. I then went on to receive my MBA and assist my mother in getting her Associates Degree. I had a career in technology and Higher Education for many years. I have published collegiate papers and spoken in many states and two countries. When my husband died, I founded and ran a nonprofit to provide mentoring to children in STEM career fields. After that, I continued working in jobs that focus on our children. I now have a dynamite counselor who helps me with seeing my value and my worth. I have a solid relationship with someone who accepts me as I am, pushes me to move forward and values me on both the good and bad days. More importantly, I have found my own value and worth. I no longer believe in “normal” as a goal to be achieved. I have my own definition of normal and I am ok with that.
It is my hope and plan that my story can help others to find peace and joy in their respective journeys as they seek to find out who they really are and not who others have told them they have to be. I want to help them find their “normal”, be ok with that, and find joy in their lives.
This blog post was written by Jeni McIntosh-Elkins. Jeni is passionate about helping others find their voice and co-runs a blog sharing about her experience as a widow.