In Pursuit of the Elusive Normal
One day you're walking along, innocently minding your own business, when out of the blue you're randomly selected from the crowd to be kidnapped and brutally tortured by a gang of sadistic sociopathic terrorists.
These evil thugs hold you hostage and threaten to kill you. They torture you, they humiliate you, they isolate you. They take all your money, they lock you inside your own house and tell you they'll kill you if you try to leave. They deprive you of food and sleep; they cut you and stab you and poison you until you're so sick and weak you can barely stand up. They mutilate you and disfigure you until your own family wouldn't recognize you. They do this again and again, over and over, for six months, constantly threatening to kill you if you refuse to submit to their torture. They threaten to kill you if you don't have a "positive attitude." Though of course if the whim strikes them, they're always reminding you, they might kill you anyway, no matter what you do, just for the hell of it.
And then suddenly one day they're bored with torturing you and decide to leave you alone. "But don't be so sure we're really finished with you," they warn with an evil laugh as they're slithering out the door. "Because there's a damn good chance we'll come back for you. It could be any time: maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, maybe a year from now. Never forget: we've got your number, lady, and we know where you live. Nobody can stop us if we decide we want you again, nobody."
They slam the door and they're gone. Silence. You weep with relief. You still feel weak, your body is wracked with constant pain and fatigue, you look terrible, you're forever branded with the social stigma of having been assaulted and violated, but at least, thank the Universe, you're alive!
You struggle to pull yourself back up on your feet and set about trying to resume your normal life. Sometimes you feel giddy with happiness and gratitude, but then other times you feel inexplicably empty and depressed. You try to go about your business, but you can't seem to concentrate. You can't focus on what it is you're supposed to be doing. Your mind is in a fog. The future seems uncertain, you're nervous and jumpy. Every sudden noise might be them, coming back to get you.
"Relax!" your friends tell you. "It's over! Don't be so paranoid. Sure, they might come back some day, but then anybody might get hit by a bus on the way to work tomorrow. You can't live in constant fear. Forget about it, and just live one day at a time."
You try. You really do. And sometimes you manage. You try to go out and do "normal" things, the things you used to enjoy. People stare at you when you go out in public, but you put on a brave smile. You try to engage in small talk. You struggle to keep up. You try to stay active. It's been two months now, your energy and stamina should be bouncing back, but you're still so tired. The fatigue tackles you without warning and grinds your soul into the ground. You have crying spells that just won't stop. The poison doesn't seem to be leaving your body as fast as it should. You wonder if it ever will. Your hands and wrists and feet still hurt unbearably where the nerves were damaged, but you don't want to complain.
Because frankly, people are sick of hearing you whine. The novelty of hearing about your horrible experience has worn off and now they're ready to move on. Your support network drifts away. Come on, you tell yourself, act right for gods sake! You're sick of feeling sorry for your self, and you want to move on too. What the hell is wrong with me, you wonder. Why can't I get over it and snap out of it and have my normal life back again?
And what the hell is normal anyway? You sit and stare at the wall for two hours, and you honestly don't have any idea.