Stop Beating Yourself Up! I Did!
I was very late, but it wasn’t my fault, so I forgave myself and blamed it on the craziest day I had ever lived through.
Adults with ADHD are prone to making mistakes and blunders. Who hasn’t melted a pan in the oven because he got distracted? What? Is that only me? Well, I won’t mention how many pans have been returned to their basic elements under my care. The point is that there is some disaster hiding in every ADHD adult’s past. Consequently, many adults with ADHD have very poor self-esteem.
If your lover/spouse/parent/teacher/boss isn’t grinding you down for letting them down, then it’s yourself. Of course, not all ADHD adults beat themselves up. Some go through life puzzled about why everybody is mad at them, bless their souls. In my case, I don’t believe there is a person alive who is as hard on myself as I am, yet I also force myself to improve over and over again. Why do you think I melted so many pans? Now I don’t have that problem, and I cook a mean pasta.
It’s easy to blame ourselves when things go wrong. We get used to accepting blame because we usually cause so many problems. However, with training, we can override that impulse to self-flagellate while setting a positive example for our kids. Take my fiasco last week.
I was determined to not be late to my daughter’s therapy session. It seems the Universe conspires to make us late each week, but this time I left early. I got in my car and called the school to have them get my daughter ready for me to pick up. I gave myself 10 minutes to get to school, which was only 5 minutes away. That was plenty of time for me to drive there and for my daughter to come to the front office. Then we’d have 25 minutes to make a 10- minute drive to the therapists. We’d be early! No ADHD tardiness for me!
Unfortunately, I got somebody in attendance who was being trained. Such a sweet lady, but she took the entire trip from my home to the school to properly spell my daughter’s name. I pulled into the school parking lot with my eyes buggin’. “It’s OK,” I told myself. “There’s plenty of time.” I then waited 10 minutes. No daughter. So I went inside to discover, oops! The trainee never sent the class excusal note to the teacher!
[Read: It Always Takes More Than “Just Two Minutes”]
I waited another 10 minutes. Now it was 5 minutes before we were supposed to be at the therapist’s! A second excuse note was delivered to class. Apparently, my daughter didn’t feel like leaving. By the time she was ready to go, we had 1 minute to get there.
En route, we were stopped at a train crossing, so I called ahead to let them know we’d be late. I explained my morning and laughed. The therapist laughed politely in return. Was that tension I heard? I was certainly stressed as I hung up. That’s when I noticed the train crossing was still down. How long had we been sitting there? We waited 4 minutes more before it lifted, but the Universe wasn’t done with me. Several slow cars cut me off, counting on my reflexes to spare our lives. It flustered me so much that I missed my exit. We finally arrived 25 minutes late. How embarrassing! We sat down to begin my daughter’s therapy session.
2 minutes later, the fire alarm went off.
I’m not sure what I did to tick off the Universe, but I felt its wrath that day. Fortunately, there was one thing I knew: I left on time. No matter what happened, nothing could take that away from me. As we stood outside with everybody else, I began to laugh. “Let’s just go home,” I said. On the ride home, my daughter and I talked about tardiness, and the importance of liking ourselves even when we make mistakes, and of not keeping an adult waiting. We both agreed it was the craziest day ever.
Then a bus cut us off. Slowly.