The harsh reality of work and relationships is frightening. My outlet? The weekly ADHD support group, a gathering of seven adults who are amazingly similar to me.
by Jane D.
The weather has turned from balmy warm into the kind of icy chill that is a clear reminder that the season is changing. The birthday is around the corner. 33. Jesus died when he was 33. Somehow it seems like a milestone year. I have great expectations on some days, no expectations on others.
The romance-filled summer with the litany of men is gone; the harsh reality, and the silence that follows, is frightening. The temptation is to return to the harried, colorful treadmill of a life that I once craved, but I am tired now of it all and am left sad and angry.
The outlet is the weekly ADHD group, a group of seven adults who are amazingly similar to me. It is odd because I've spent much of my life feeling flawed, apologizing, and trying to get the message across that the missed deadlines, tardiness, the word skipping, topic jumping, forgotten birthdays etc. are not for lack of heart but rather what I now realize is a learning disorder. I arrived late once again, but I've learned to secretly praise myself when I do arrive. "You're doing fine," I whisper. I need to be my biggest cheerleader, selfishly so.
It turns out that I'm not the only one who has had a rough week, but it has been rough. I have been humiliated by the she-boss before the colleagues. Nothing I say or do makes her happy because she is so right. I am late with deadlines, do things last minute, and I don't seem to get the message half the time because I am so fixated and fearful of hiding my disability. The few times I've tried to contribute to a conversation, the boss looks right through me or to someone else and changes the topic.
Perhaps I am off topic, but I tried. I know from her standpoint I must look bored. I am looking around, the gaze first to the color of her finger nails and then to the wall, then to my colleague who is tap tap tapping his pen, to the part of someone’s hair, I think about the boyfriend who broke up with me three times. He fired me for the lack of sex and the string of miscommunications. I wonder if I would have elicited more sympathy if I said I have ADD. Doesn't matter now, because it is water under the bridge.
I am told that life for ADDers is a dance of three steps forward, two steps back. So the three steps forward are these: I carry the planner with me now, and have the Time Management To Do sheet. It looks like one of those dreaded time logs, punch in and punch out. I have the stopwatch staring at me. I take the 20 mg of Adderall. I live in constant fear that I will be canned, especially since the economy sucks. But I listen to others’ stories and realize I am not alone. There are others who struggle to get to work, keep jobs, please bosses, get along with colleagues, others who struggle to wash dishes, clean closets, whose minds run as free and colorfully as mine. What makes me angry is that I believe that life isn't that cookie cutter, why should everyone be the same? Isn't there a place in the world for me, a place where my gifts will be appreciated?
I talked about my week but it ended up being a depressing ramble. A dirty little secret is that I don't read, the newspaper, books, I don't read because half the time I don't get it. My mind wanders off onto another path. So the boss is very worried that I don't seem to be following what is going on. She's right, I am not following what is happening because there are times when I feel like I am reading Greek. I read and re-read a paragraph three times… what does it mean? I listened to a message from the boss and didn’t get what she's saying, partly because I'm so scared I won't get it. I started to think that I should record the meetings and conversations, but it would be proof that I have a disability. Normal people get it.
On the bright side, I resisted the temptation to buy yet another planner, yet another notebook. I have an infatuation with paper, as if each new list is a new promise and a new beginning to do things better. Staples really should give me a discount. I am already a platinum member, and not by choice. I did, however, cave in to a pack of fluorescent color Post-its. Everyone laughed and I laughed too. Humor is wonderful and it is free.
Ahh, the word free. I told the group that once again the only time I feel free is when I am in the water. Diving into the silence of the pool is soothing—no human voices—and I can control the movement of the water.
After the pow wow, a few of us grabbed a bite to eat. We've only known each other for less than two months but there is that connection that transcends age, race and economic background. The word "soulmate" followed me all the way home and I saw a flicker of life amidst a blur of tears.