The sun had just risen over the black-top parking lot of the Super Walmart in Anderson, California. My date was sitting on the pavement, while I was sitting on a parking stopper. Suddenly she got up and made it clear she wanted to go home.
As I dropped her off at her home, she got out and repeated, “I was waiting for you to lead. I was waiting for you to lead.”
I felt demoralized because I didn’t have the confidence to lead the stunning woman I wanted to be with.
I got back the result of the personality assessment. It pointed out that I lacked the confidence to take leadership, but that I didn’t really understand why.
I have known for most of my life intuitively that there were certain tasks which I could do, but that there were other tasks I couldn’t do.
For people recovering from ADHD, one of the symptoms is that their executive functions develop 30-40% later than people with normal brains. Part of how this plays out is that when the ADHD person is doing something which aligns with one or more of their strengths or interests, they’re able to perform at a very high level. But when they think about engaging in activities which their brain deems as boring, even activities which are important to them and their future achievement, their brains inhibit them from doing the task. They appear to be very inconsistent.
I have wondered for years why certain tasks were a piece of cake for me, but others were like pulling teeth, even tasks that were important for me to accomplish. I am confident I now know why. I think I struggle with ADHD.
There have been tasks that I knew I couldn’t do over the years. I simply sensed it, but I didn’t have a way to put it into words. It was like I wanted to do those certain important tasks, but my brain wouldn’t cooperate with me so I felt an impending sense of failure.
Every time I was hired for a position or made a friend, I could feel that it was a matter of time before they would ask or expect me to do something that I wanted to do for them, but that my brain wouldn’t allow me to do. I would try to do really well with the tasks which my brain would allow me to do well in, and then hope and pray that the moment would come that when I failed to do what the person asked or expected me to do, that I would have enough good will stowed away in their soul to save me from getting fired or losing the relationship. From inside myself, where I observed myself and commented on my thoughts, feelings and action, I felt helpless in the areas my brain wouldn’t let me act to achieve.
It was like there were certain parts of me inside my mind and soul that were totally willing to act to fulfill the expectations of others, in jobs and relationships, but when I tried to act I hit a brick wall and somehow couldn’t climb over it or get around it. I felt utterly debilitated, but figured that I was either lazy, stupid or crazy based on the feedback I gave myself and that other people gave me.
At other times, there were things I knew I shouldn’t say or do, but in those areas it was the opposite of the brick wall. It was like a water slide. Once the thought or action entered the slide of my mind, out it shot towards the people or situation I faced. It was like I couldn’t stop myself. This dis-inhibition destroyed my relationships and jobs.
Recently, I discovered I may have ADHD, which symptoms perfectly describe how I’ve observed my internal and external realities for years. I have felt a profound sense of frustration and failure for a long time. I thought that I was lazy, stupid, or crazy at certain points.
I’ve had a low self-esteem for a long time, which I’ve tried to cover up with an over-inflated sense of self-important. But then I learn through the book Adam’s Return that I wasn’t that important. That made it harder to cover my sense of worthlessness. I had to start getting my sense of worth from God, who told me I am His precious son.
Finishing grad school and discovering I love books wrecked the image I had of myself as stupid. I kicked butt at writing papers. I got many A’s.
I have still thought of myself as lazy, but now, because of this informal diagnosis, I’m realizing that the brick wall that’s hindered me – despite extraordinary and repeated exertions of will power – was not laziness. The problem was neurological. I’m not a bad, lazy, stupid person.
I didn’t not lead the stunning lady because I didn’t want to.
I didn’t lead her because I couldn’t.
All the actions I’ve taken are my responsibility. I’ve been fired many times because somehow, I couldn’t stop myself from saying certain things or taking certain actions, or because I couldn’t do certain things. But God has given me tremendous grace and mercy.
I’ve covered my insecurities with arrogance and pride and defiance. I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m free to be me, the real me, and to get help recovering from ADHD.
Today, I met a successful business man who has ADHD. He’d summited mountains of business, and crawled on the deserts of suicide and poverty. Now, he’s married to a beautiful amazing woman who also has ADHD, their strengths and weaknesses complement each other, and he is very happy. His business is going well, and they’re enjoying an active life together.
Practically, I’m at a career low, but I know the truth about myself now, and I know what to do about it. I know I’m not a screw-up. I know I need help. I know that I’m going to be OK if I don’t give up. If he can do it, then I can do it.
Thank you God for providing a pathway of hope, and a light to guild me on the paths of the future you have planned for me.
* I’ve used information from the books Driven to Distraction and Smart But Stuck in this post.