The holiday season reminds me of times when I was a kid and we had relatives come for a visit, especially those we didn’t see often. We might spend the day together or just a few hours. I was happy around them. The visit was pleasant without any hiccups.
I remember being on the front porch waving goodbye to them. And there would be a very real and noticeable internal shift. It was like a flipped switch; I went from happy to annoyed in an instant.
The experience of Move In Day at college is meant to be a joyful and happy occasion, right? Sure you have mixed emotions on both sides; teens finally get that taste of freedom and independence while parents are forced to consider what life will be like without their child at home. But in general you’re supposed to be happy and hopeful, aren’t you?
I wanted to be like the girl in the above photo. I wanted to exude gratitude for my parents’ help with transporting my belongings from home to campus. To be grateful for all of the effort with lugging my boxes and oddly-shaped objects up 5 flights of stairs. To welcome the assistance with not just dumping things inside the doorway but to begin finding homes for each book and article of clothing. To figure out the perfect spot on the wall for my dry erase board, which would serve as a visual reminder for assignments.
As I finish discussing my high school years and transition to college, I wanted to do another recap of where I stood with sensory processing problems.
The big list details all the different ways I was impacted by my environment and the way I interpreted the sensory data I received. I’ve also done a recap from preschool through eighth grade to show the progress of these sensory issues.
Along with being unable to accept compliments, there was also this long held concept of being less than and inferior to others, which began early on for me. I struggled in so many ways to match the speed, ease and ability of my classmates that I saw it as a flaw in my very character rather than strictly my ability. It defined me to the core, this idea of not measuring up. That even if I managed to improve, it seemed to matter very little because someone else was still better. My focus was all about how I compared to others instead of establishing my own track of development.
You’re supposed to pay attention to your interests and abilities to recognize talents as those might influence future areas of study to pursue and a potential career path. How do you successfully accomplish this with a negative view of yourself? Yes to a degree I saw that writing and creative writing were more strong suits. But it wasn’t enough to completely draw confidence from it or to see it as an actual talent. I still felt misunderstood for preferring to write in a notebook rather than trying to talk with others.
I twisted most of the compliments I received, convinced that people were just trying to be polite or telling white lie because they felt sorry for me. And with this internal, self-defeating attitude, you can tear yourself down pretty far. I didn’t need extra help in this area. So the emotional and sometimes verbal bullying/antagonizing that I received in previous years just reinforced this feeling of being inferior and incompetent, unworthy.
My maternal grandmother died when my mom was 16, so I never got a chance to meet her. I had a relationship with my step-grandmother, but it was still a bit distant and formal. My paternal grandparents lived several states away so we didn’t get to spend a lot of time together either.
Generally speaking I got along with my step-grandmother, but we weren’t super close. We would spend time together a few times a year, usually going out for lunch. In many ways she was the classic Southern woman, and she tried to teach me manners and social etiquette. Not that I was an animal, but I had a preference for eating burgers and fries that she wanted to change. The biggest restaurant moment that stands out is her insisting I try chutney with my meal. (I must have branched out with a chicken sandwich.)
This is the poem that got me started writing poetry on my own time. In previous classes over the years we had written poems, usually following a form or writing haikus and limericks. Those were good ways of being introduced to poetry, but they didn’t seem to be very personal.
In May 1998, near the end of eighth grade, I was at home in the den/family room. I remember Mom called out asking me to bring her the newspaper or something. So I got up and walked toward the kitchen as requested, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. I had blacked out or something. They ran tests at the hospital, including an EKG, but no one could find anything to explain what actually happened. I was given a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours.
I didn’t fully understand the seriousness of what happened that weekend. I just knew I detested having to wear the monitor. But I just wrote down what I felt on paper.
Eighth grade English was a small introduction to the real world. Not everyone is eager to learn. Not everyone wants to be in school. Not everyone has respect for teachers or those giving presentations. Kids act up and cause disruptions in class for no reason. Not everyone does the work or makes an effort.
I viewed trying and making an effort, being respectful and paying attention as expected behavior. I wasn’t abnormal for following those protocols, but I viewed others as weird for not doing so.
This year was also a glimpse of the real world because of my teacher. I had known Mrs. Davis for most of my life. Her mother lived two houses down from us. Mrs. Davis had two daughters. Madalyn, the oldest, was my brother’s age, and we’d hang out a lot. I had a deep respect for Mrs. Davis. I knew she taught English, but I never would have guessed she’d end up being my teacher. I was with students who made an effort and then there were several who put up a fight every step of the way and just didn’t care at all.