Thursday, December 3, 2015

"What Lies Beneath: Struggling To Learn"

I've been dying inside for a long time now, just waiting for "the perfect thing". I'm not wishing for a fancy trip around the globe, or a huge diamond ring, or even a million-dollar house; part of me is just constantly, desperately, craving a way to let out some of the words and creativity and passion that is stuck deep down inside my soul.

It's been a long time coming, since as a child I struggled with what felt like trying to run in a pair of flip-flops, worn over a cowboy boots. Today it would be called "learning disability" or labeled a disease titled with a string of capital letters mashed together such as "ADD" or "ADHD", but back then I only knew it as mind-numbing, scream-worthy, frustration. The words didn't come out right when I spoke, and when I sat down to try and explain on paper, the words looked crooked and demented and I fumed upon seeing the pages of scribble that had taken so much effort. Maybe that explains why there is so little left of my childhood; sure, there's a box or two out in the shed with papers and a yearbook, a few ribbons, ticket stubs and cards, but little of anything that was "good enough to save".

Moving on to high school was like riding a roller coaster because as I flunked standard English classes, I also scored high in the honor writing program I'd begged and weaseled my way into. Determined to channel the relentless clamoring inside my mind, getting a chance to be in that advance college-level course seemed like the golden ticket, and yet I continued fail at diagramming sentences and remained unable to explain what a verb was. The honors class teacher peered over his glasses at me to say that what I turned in was "pretty good" and that I should pursue writing, but I soon realized that my brain couldn't keep up with his advice.

It didn't really matter either, because following graduation, my inability to absorb the basic curriculum of a community college proved too much. That's when I noticed the fury at being unable to express what I felt, began subsiding from white-hot anger into a quiet, defeated sort of grief and sadness. Rather than flunking so many classes, I opted to withdraw from them instead, a pattern that continued during the next year and a half. By the time I got married just after my 21st birthday, I was working full time and hoping desperately to never need formal education for anything again. I wasn't stupid; I knew I couldn't learn, even after reading and re-reading a chapter all night long, or writing principles of economics 100 times.

The silent sort of grief I felt while coming up empty in my daily life, unable to create or grow or even function normally, never went away. It lurked inside my soul like a demon, surfacing occasionally when the need to learn a new task or concept arose. It's not not that I can't learn, I'd tell myself when struggling to understand projects and challenges that turned up at work; it's that I was different and just hadn't found the right way yet. The constant battle to keep up with what seemed so easy and routine to others, took it's toll and to cope I job-hopped which felt like the adult version of treading water.

And then we moved. Started over in a new place just a few hours away where we thought of having a small business, perhaps a different way of life and a new realm of possibilities. I became a small business owner, took a crash course in life lessons over the first few years and fell in love; I'd found my place in the world and tucked away in a small retail shop, "the perfect thing" was unfolding. To be continued...

 "Life on Delmarva" • #delmarvausa