I’ve been doing a lot of introspection lately; reading a lot of self help books.
It’s not about my ADHD, but trying to find my life again.
One of the books that I’ve been reading is “The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron.
I honestly don’t know why I am reading it and doing (some) of the exercises within, other than the fact that it had been calling to me for a few weeks before I bought it. I actually just read the free sample, thinking that would be enough to let me know it wasn’t for me.
And yet, here I am.
I actually owned this book about 15 years ago or more. I remember trying to do the morning pages that are the basis of the book’s exercises (you write 3 pages, longhand, each morning as soon as you get up – no editing or re-reading).
Note the word “trying”. At some point, I gave up and, I assume, gave the book away.
But about a month ago, I tried it again, and so far, I’ve kept up.
I think I’m on Chapter 3 now, and that’s the reason for this post. (You were wondering, weren’t you?)
First, I don’t consider myself an artist, which made the choice of this book a little odd. Although Ms. Cameron considers writers to be artists, I don’t feel as though I qualify. Yes, I recognize that I am a writer; but an artist? No.
The point of all this is that this book has brought up some childhood issues for me, and I bet you can relate to some of them.
Let me start by saying that I loved my parents and I believe that they loved me. There is no hateful blaming going on here. I think all parents make well meaning mistakes without realizing it, and of course, there are some who had less than perfect childhoods. That’s not really what this is about.
I think that those of us with ADHD can recall and relate to more awkward times in our early lives than most people. We may or may not have been nerds or geeks or got picked on, but we definitely knew what getting picked last for a game felt like.
My parents never quite knew what to do with me.
I was an only child, born late in life to them.
They knew and acknowledged that I was smart, but at the same time, I was also “too sensitive”, had no common sense, and was just plain “weird”. Yes, those words were used.
When you grow up as a child with ADHD, you are already at a disadvantage. And I admit, when I was a kid, no one knew or talked about ADHD. Being a quiet, well behaved girl, it would have gone unnoticed anyway.
So you’re a kid with ADHD. You’re socially inept, you don’t pay attention often enough in any situation (I once answered “I don’t know” to someone who asked where I lived, because I wasn’t paying attention), and you try really hard, but you really just never quite fit in.
The Artist’s Way brought some of this back to me as I was reading it and doing the exercises.
I remembered getting made fun of, not only by other kids, but by my parents and other relatives.
When you get that enough, you stop sharing, you stop communicating any more than you need to. (The book ties this into someone doubting their artistic ability, not wanting to share what they create, or simply not creating at all.)
You become ashamed of who you are, and you begin to try and hide it even more. You stop being who you really are.
One woman said that no matter how well she did at something, her parents would find the smallest flaw and focus on that. That really hit home. All A’s and one B? Why didn’t you get an A in that, too?
I realize that this post is sort of all over the map, but I hope that you are able to follow along.
Artist or not, can you relate to these childhood experiences? Are you still carrying around remnants of them today?
What did you want to be when you grew up? I’m sure we all had lots of different plans when we were younger, but how were your ideas received? Were you encouraged, or led in another direction?
Ironically, I wanted to be an artist when I started college. My mom, feeling that was much too impractical (plus I had no talent), tried to steer me towards nursing, a dream of hers. I ended up with a degree in business.
What about your friends? Or even more volatile – your boyfriends or girlfriends? What was the reaction to them?
I would really love to open this conversation up – maybe we should do it on Facebook – because I would love to hear your experiences.