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Dyslexic not Dumb…..

“I alone am one…dancing to the beat of my own drum.” 

Rarely ever have I heard anyone say proudly”  yeah yeah, he gets his blue eyes from his mother, but I’ll be a son of a gun, he gets his ADD (or ADHD) from me!” 

Those of  us living in the world of  chronic chaos, clutter, failure to follow through, who are at best wonderfully creative, highly intelligent, sensitive to music and how it feels, and at worst, lost in a pile of papers that seem to have no beginning and no end…have for many years compared our lives to those of individuals for whom order, punctuality, and the ability to follow through.  We try, we tell ourselves that “this time it will be different” but for the most part, the paper monkeys and closet vandals, follow right behind us and ransack things before we even get the chance to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Frustration sets in, which, in the same manner that a dog chases it’s tail, and makes the simple appear insurmountable. 

There are those who utilize medication to help us do what others take for granted.  There are those who work so hard to give the appearance of being the same as “everyone else” that they develop characteristics of OCD.  

This doesn’t happen because of a lack of intelligence, but for some of us, it is made more difficult as it is accompanied by Dsylexia and Dyscalculia.  Those of you who, found it difficult to sit still, were easily annoyed, or annoyed others (etc) were- in my opinon- extremely fortunate.  Those of us who, while creating stories and various scenarios in our mind, sat perfectly still and appeared to pay attention, were often undiagnosed, and therefore received no help.  Some of us did fairly well academically when were allowed to study things of interest, some of us never made it quite that far. 

For many, myself included, elementary education meant pretending that you understood what was explained (especially in math) just so you could be finished and go outside and play at recess. Besides, other students, who got it, couldn’t understand “why after having it explained 5 times” – you just don’t get it.  In truth, at the time neither did you.  Teacher was always getting after you because you forgot your homework – which of course made school harder to attend.  There are those who eventually dropped out; not because they lacked the intelligence to continue, simply because the task seemed overwhelming so they stopped, gave up, or rather “froze” like deer in the headlights.

Individuals that persevered may have found a niche in creative, viusual, and/or performing arts  We are indeed kinesethic – hands on people who have a lot to offer. Survival meant  finding ways to compensate. Doing so enhances our abiliy to “think outside the box.” We see things differently.  A lifetime of sitting perfectly still while not really paying attention has allowed us to become excellent writers as many of us have very vivid imaginations. Some of us are highly intuitive and have a tendency to ” go with the gut” feeling that arises.  (It’s funny to me that as an adult I am able to “go with my instinct” but as a child it just meant that I was easily distracted”).   Just the other day, my daugther asked me what the purpose of going to church because everytime she looks at me my eyes are closed.  I explained to her that closing my eyes helped me focus on what the Pasor was saying as opposedto making up little stories (in my head of course) about the other church members.

Some days are better than others, but I am who I am.  Knowing that my children have inherited this “gift” from me gets me down and causes me to question the plan for my life ( are you serious God – ADD/ Dyslexia/Dyscalculia/ 5 children / an elderly chronically ill mother with worsening dimentia/ and me – really?)  Then I enconter someone who (usually an adult) who will reference themselves as being stupid.  They will begin telling me about their childhood school experience while at the same time referring to themselves as dumb because they have ADD or Dyslexia or both.  I tell them that I have it too.  The most common response “but your’e smart” my reply ” then you are too.” 

There comes a point in time when we must focus on who and what we are in order to fully appreciate the person we have become.  Of course, for one who finds it difficult to stay on task, lacks organizational skills, and had problems with punctuality, everyday can be a challenge, if I let it.  I don’t.  I remind myself to focus on the task at hand instead of becoming overwhelmed thinking about all that I have left to do. (Mindfulness is very helpful  – thank you Thich Nhat Hanh)

I would be less than honest if I said that there are not days when I am faced with the knowledge that things in my life might have been different “if.”  Realistically speaking however, if things had been different I could not have become the person I was and still am meant to be.   

For my children…..

Perhaps you would have been better off with a parent who was more organized than me, but there was order in the chaos.  Perhaps having a parent who paid attention to detail would have been more benefical, but I’d like to think I helped you see the importance of the bigger picture.  Your lives would have run more smoothly if you had been granted a parent who was better at following directions, but I’d like to think I taught you how to create your own path; how to be your own trail blazers.  Maybe you would have learned a lot from living with a parent who is really good at following through, but I hope you got something out of being fully present in the “here and now” with me.  I know that I havent taught you how to focus on the task at hand to the exclusion of all else, but I hope you understand that to be “distracted” by life is not really a distraction at all.  Considering long term consequences are important – we are all living with mine – but I hope you  have learned the importance of having the courage to carpe diem.

It would have been easier, but it would not have been our way.  It wasn’t a part of the plan for us.  For all that we have lost, for all that could have been so much better, I hope that you will be able to focus on all that we have experienced, and find joy.  For all the sadness over my inability to provide you with two parents, perhaps, witnessing the effects of a mother doing it all, trying hard to be all, getting up, and falling down  ( time and time again), was the best role model of all. 

In this way you will understand the true meaning of the  Theodore Roosevelt’s words ” “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”©

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3 thoughts on “Dyslexic not Dumb…..

  1. i love all that you’ve written here, not because you’re my sister, but because you are the brightest, most joyful, happy and most fun person i’ve ever known!!!

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