Mommy, what is that line on your chin?
How did you get it?
I fell off a scooter.
Then what happened?
I got up, walked about fifty yards back to the house and Grandma sat me on the kitchen counter and cleaned me up a bit. I had a huge band aid on my chin for what felt like weeks.
At this point, my husband spoke up: Your mom didn’t take you to a clinic? You probably needed stitches.
No, why would she do that?
My husband let out a heavy sign and encouraged Kid2 to give me a hug.
The incident with the scooter was one of many. I was an active child and had my share of scrapes, bumps, and bruises. I ripped through may share of pants falling off my bike, I scrapped my share of elbows doing the same. I never broke any bones, but I did have some falls that, in retrospect, may have been better off being at least looked at by medical professionals.
Growing up, that was my normal. We didn’t go to doctors, we didn’t take medicine. With the exception of a persistent elementary school nurse, I was exempted from vision, hearing and scoliosis screenings at school. I was exempted from parts of health and biology classes.
In my experience, going to a doctor or taking medication was seen as decidedly not normal. This was reinforced by my experiences at Principia. Debilitating cramps? Pray! Horrible fall on the ice on your way to class? Pray! Stressed beyond all reason by homework and time management issues? Pray!
Even once I’d left Prin and moved out, I held on to those ideas of normal. I had an anxiety attack getting a “routine” exam at Planned Parenthood — my fear of unplanned pregnancy combined with my fear of all things medical was a lot to take.
It has been over a decade and I’m still unpacking what my new normal is. People can normalize and rationalize any number of things. Tara Westover’s memoir Educated is an excellent example of this. Often it is a coping mechanism, because in the thick of things, admitting to yourself how wrong things are can be a bit too much to handle.