An Open Letter of ADHD from a Mother to her Son

Dear DJ,

The one thing people can never really quite prepared you for when you’re about to have a baby is just how completely and madly in love with them you will fall.  I can still see myself sitting at the foot of your baby swing on the floor as you rocked back and forth asleep only weeks old, utterly amazed at how perfect you were, it was you and me against the world. It was always you and me. You were the best thing that had ever happened to me, through you I found a sense of purpose where none had ever been given the chance to exist. You gave me and anchor and a reason. But it wasn’t long before everything I had hoped for you and dreamed for you began to all fall apart, but these things happen when we give our power away to other people, and theses things happen when we’re not honest with ourselves, and these things happen when we are not brave.

Too many years go by too quickly. I should have been a better role model, I should have protected you more, I should have stuck up for you more instead of being the nice one, the fair one, the mediator always ready to resolve everyone and anyone else’s issues. I should have fought harder for you but I was already getting so tired of fighting everything inside my own head and right outside of my grasp, still though, I should have stood up for the things I knew were right for you and the one very thing I knew was wrong. Watching you through the years has been like falling through a looking glass back in time, watching myself, and watching you still.

It’s hard when you feel different, it’s even harder when you feel no one understands, not even the people you love and count on the most. You wonder why every little thing seems so hard. You get scared. You doubt. You tend to live inside your own head, you can play out your life there, the one you know you should have but is somehow just out of reach while everyone else seems to be moving on with theirs.  You can achieve there, succeed there, you’re loved and accepted and understood there. Its safe in there. But while inside time passes by and one day you’re forced to open the door and it’s then you find the entire landscape of your life has changed and you’re completely unprepared. I know this because I’ve lived this.

From a time when no one understood the spectrum of ADHD, I fell through the cracks. The sweet one, the quiet one, the lazy one, the one that was just ever so slightly out of step with the rest but never quite enough to notice. The one that was readily picked on, too easily bullied. If I would try harder they’d say, she just doesn’t care, she’s just a daydreamer, she doesn’t take anything seriously. These words are poison to a little child and through them I’ve spent nearly a lifetime trying very hard to look and be like everyone else while always feeling like I’ve fallen just a little too short. To be so young and to overhear you’re own family discussing how you’ll never amount to anything crushes the very soul of a child and we tend to live out these expectations placed upon us at such an innocent impressionable age. I know you’ve heard these things too. But you need to know that is not true. And you need to be brave. Time has a way of keeping on.

When there arrived a defining moment in my life, the very thing I had hoped for, prayed for and waited for, the opportunity to change my world and yours for the better, instead of grabbing it I ran the other way. Instead of stepping up I turned around. I found a way to make an excuse. I lied to myself and I convinced myself of that lie and I left the people I had been with, the ones that truly knew me, loved me, accepted me and were cheering me on to go back to a life I wanted so desperately to escape from. A place that didn’t even define me anymore, but was familiar and it was safe and mostly because if I let those people down it wouldn’t really matter, because after all, that’s what they’d expect of me. It’s easier, less painful if you fail in front of those who doubt you, but to risk letting down those who believe in you, well, that just can never be, or at least feelings would so have you believe, but then I got stuck there and couldn’t find my way back out. I robbed us both out of what could have been and should have been the beginning of a happily ever after to return to place I knew I didn’t belong and dragged you along with me, and for that and I am so sorry. I’m sorry that I was not brave.

It’s hard trying to find your place in the world when you’re neither this or that. It’s hard to function with such intelligence and lack the execution of it, instead we stumble around like clowns never letting the world see our true selves, hear our true voices, sitting back in the shadows we’ve become accustomed to, never taking our turn at center stage. We pick the wrong acquaintances, we entertain the wrong friends, we get tangled in the wrong relationships, we settle, we settle because it’s easier than taking the risk of everyone else being right. They are not right. No matter how many times you may fall, know they are not right.

When you can’t get a grasp on yourself you’re unable to get a solid grasp on anything else. Discipline yields results but discipline is a difficult thing to an undisciplined mind.  A mind that wants its own way always. It’s far more than a matter of willpower, ADHD is never quite that easy of a fix and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.  Those days for me end here now. I have no reason not to be anything but honest with myself, with anyone. I have no one but myself to believe in me, but I’ve had that person here with me all along, it’s the one person I should have tried to save all those years ago while I was off trying to save everyone else around me. We can’t fix ourselves through fixing other people, just as we can’t learn to love ourselves by making someone love us to prove to the world we are a complete person. I know, I’ve tried. I’ve tried through family, I’ve tried through failed relationships, I’ve tried through you. It never works that way. It was never meant to.

People are just people, even parents, we’re just people doing the best with what we have, the lot we were cast, the material we were given to work with. Some of us, many of us, come from broken and we carry that brokeness with us, we pass it from one generation to the next unwittingly, skeletons from inside the closets of houses we’ve never known, it’s in the blood, just like ADHD.  It’s in the genes. Some of us step up head on and break out, some of us try really hard and just seem to get stuck spinning around in circles trying to make sense of it all, some of us just project to protect ourselves and some of us crumble and fall completely. Be Strong.

Never let anyone, not even your own self trick you into believing you’re less than your are, believing you deserves less than anyone else does, are less anything, ever, because you think differently, you process differently, understand differently, it’s through our differences that make us individuals, it’s through our difference we bring our gifts to the world, and above all else, know that I do know, I’ve always known, I do understand and I always love you. Be brave.

Mom ~