Friday, May 12, 2017

Blackberry Winter

“I have terrible periods of lack of confidence…I just don’t believe I can do it and no evidence to the contrary will sway me from that view. I briefly did therapy, but after a while I realized it is just like a farmer complaining about the weather. You can’t fix the weather—you just have to get on with it.”

Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Everyone has their moments of doubt.  Even the most arrogant and narcissistic of us lose faith from time to time.  It’s hard to be human and not see out fundamental humanness; that unbelievable frailty in a world that should have killed us off long ago save for the grace of God.  I still believe that even though I don’t believe in most of the garbage filling up the emotional baggage I tote around these days.
I am the opposite.  I have my moments of clarity.  Sometimes I find faith.  The rest of the time I simply feel like I am the lowest man on the totem pole.  I feel like Sisyphus’s little brother.  I am colorblind to success and competence and worthiness.
For whatever reason I am also blessed/cursed with being a high-functioning neurotic.  I don’t have the luxury of being able to check out and be absolved of this nightmare.  There is some drive within me that keeps me working toward being responsible (and failing) and holding myself accountable.  For the longest time after my ADHD diagnosis in 2007 I wrestled with God on the matter.  How could I be unwired to focus?  How could I not have the capability to participate in religion, society, and occupation and yet still be held to the same standards as everyone does?  How could I have the ability to appear normal but not the skills to be neuro-typical?  Is God letting Satan afflict me with psychological boils for a lark? 
Maybe it was my perception that was flawed.  Maybe there was NOTHING wrong with me.  In which case I must be the most horrible, selfish, uncaring person on the planet because I don’t seem to interact with other people the same way as other people do.  A year or so later I began wondering if I fell somewhere along the autism spectrum.  Maybe I lack the emotional sophistication to successfully interact with my peers.  But again, what if I was simply looking for excuses for my character flaws?
Despite the good things in my life…despite successes, reaffirmations, people who love me, and despite the fact that I am high-functioning…I live with constant crippling self-doubt.  I presented a statewide plan that I co-authored to the former First Lady of Kentucky at the Capitol.  I operate on a first name basis with a lot of important people.  My name gets thrown around in places I still struggle to believe is possible.  I get credit for things I can’t believe are happening in my life.  On an intellectual level I feel like within the next five to ten years of my life things will become even more surreal and positive.  I don’t say these things to brag but to show the contrast between the reality everyone else must see that is separated from my own mind by a shroud.  Even saying these things about myself doesn’t make me feel any increase in self-worth. 
Ten years ago tomorrow I graduated college.  I first started down that path in 1992.  I went to (not including a short stint at a photography school) two different universities in three different attempts over fifteen years.  The last stretch was mainly unbroken between 2000 and 2007.  My academic performance improved toward the end and I was actually on the Dean’s List at least two semesters.  Graduated just shy of a 3.0 gpa only because I failed to drop a class I had stopped going to early on and never made it up.  I couldn’t erase that F. 
I’ve been a professional planner nine years now.  I convinced my current employer to promote and replace me so that I could work more directly on bike-ped and trails projects.  A lot of people have told me I should actually be doing this job or that job and again, I feel like within five or ten years I’ll be even more sought after for my experience and knowledge.  Even though I don’t actually feel like anyone should want me…I’m not worthy of such attention.
I did all of that living with a debilitating neurological disorder, depression, anxiety—all undiagnosed—and with the crippling self-doubt that resulted from that condition.  High-functioning curse; I get myself into too much trouble.  When I get a little rein I run as far and as fast as I can with it.  When I get just a taste of success or hint of confidence I bolt like a wild pony running for the horizon.  And the same goes for when I get a whiff of hope.  When the clouds break for a moment and it seems like my moods may shift I have learned to take full advantage and try to get as much done as possible before the storms come blowing back into my mind and break up whatever warmth and light remains.
Like riding a bike I have to keep moving forward to keep from falling.  If I stop pedaling and coast the ride is going to be over.  I’ve never afforded myself the luxury of coasting.  I can’t.
In light of the tangle of invasive neurologies in my mind I don’t know how I am able to present to you anything cohesive or valuable.  My mind is a maze and I have always been lost within it.  I keep looking for a way out.  I keep hoping to unravel the mystery of it.  But I’m tired.  I’m losing hope in ever changing the layout of the space I inhabit.  The map is not to be found within me.  I know that as sure as I know I’m trapped.  I’ve given up trying to solve this puzzle from within. 
One thing I do know is that I desperately need to simplify my life.  I have too many things competing for a non-existent attention span.  I’m done with writing a regular blog.  I want to be done with social media.  After Riverfest and after the mountain bike race I'd love to just going to delete my Facebook account once and for all.  Twitter the same.  Instagram gone.  I’m going to do my best to pull out of the internet all together.  It’s not helping me.  My life has not gotten better because of the virtual world.

I will likely continue to post here, but not on a schedule, not out of duty, but when there is something truly worthwhile to share.  I write as an outlet, and I know I'll miss it if I stop doing it altogether.  But I can't maintain the focus of doing this thing while so much else around me needs to be done.
Like I said, there are a few things I still need to deal with and have a presence, but from this point going forward I’m going to do my damnedest to keep from making any kind of commitment which will keep me shackled here.  If I could I would just sweep aside all of my commitments at this point and start over fresh, but that goes back to what I said in the beginning about being driven to be responsible and of holding myself accountable.  I’ve failed on too many commitments in my life because of these demons.  Whatever power I have over them I will exercise now and follow through as best as I can.  But I’m not going to let any more demons be conceived to continue to dog me.  I will eradicate the horde of them if I can.
I am a high-functioning neurotic.  So therefore I believe I should be able to defeat this.  I may need help doing it, but I do still have hope.

1 comment:

  1. To me, you seem pretty much like the rest of us. Take a hike, go for a bike ride, spend time with friends and family. That"s what is important.