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Facing My Limitations

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The other day, M and I had an argument… sort of.  It was meant to be a discussion, and we tried to keep it conversational, but emotions got high, as they tend to do, and tempers flared, and we were both licking wounds when things were over.  We worked it out, and we promised each other we’d fix it.

But something He said stuck with me.

He told me there’s a shit ton of stuff that He does throughout the day to help me maintain an even keel, and stay on task.  He reminds me of things often, and points out obstacles I don’t see so I won’t trip over them (literally and figuratively), and when He sees me trying to take something from the bottom of the pile without moving everything, He’ll make me stop and take everything off the pile first so I don’t knock it all over.  All of this, and more, He does so I don’t freak out about how clumsy I am, or get upset about my failing memory, or get frustrated with my disabilities. 

You know that scene in “Lost”, when John Locke’s in Sydney in the office for the walk-about tour? And the guy says to him (I’m paraphrasing, at best.), “Dude, you can’t go cause you’re in a freakin’ wheelchair!” (Come to think of it, damn near every character on that show had serious issues with having their mental or physical limitations pointed out to them.  Hmm…) and John Locke goes nuts screaming, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do!!!”? Yeah… I know that feeling well.  I hate being told what I can’t do.

I tried to be grateful.  He means well.  He’s trying to protect me from how utterly crushed I am when I’m faced with my limitations.  I was incredibly grateful for about five seconds.  And that’s when this rush of overwhelmingly painful emotion consumed me.  Helplessness, and uselessness, and worthlessness, and… I should be able to remember, in the two minutes it takes me to walk from our apartment to the corner store, what M asked me to pick up.  I stood there and looked Him in the face while He told me.  Tried to pay attention to every word.  Repeated it back to Him three times.  And yet, here I stand, staring at the shelves, absolutely petrified because I can’t remember what it was He asked for.

I am far too young for Alzheimer’s, so it has got to be… something else.  I am loathe to self-diagnose a disease that didn’t exist when I was a child.  That can be focused with different teaching techniques, rather than medication.  That people my age seem to develop later on in life because our society has stopped using the techniques we used when we were in school, so we can’t focus like we used to.

Since becoming an “Alias” fan, I occasionally joke that my parents tested me for CIA training when I was a child.  With my father’s military background, and extreme patriotism, it’s not a far stretch to think he’d submit me to such things when I was a child, provided he believed they’d only help me, and not hurt me.  Or maybe his patriotism was so great that he would have sacrificed one of his children if he believed it would better his country.  But I’m not sure that’s the case.  Someone else’s child, maybe.  Not his own.

In any case, my parents, from a very young age, gave me exercises and tests to increase and determine my mental aptitude, concentration, attention to detail, short and long term memory, problem solving skills…

I have memories of sitting at the table with my mom for hours putting together puzzles kids my age would only play with.  She’d lay a bunch of my smaller toys out on the floor (blocks, and My Little Ponies, and pencils, and McDonald’s toys, etc.) and tell me to look at them for a minute, or however long, then make me turn my back so she could take something out.  And when I turned back around, I had to tell her what was missing.  We’d walk into a room full of people, and my parents would randomly ask me what people were wearing when we were fully passed them, or whether they had short or long hair, or something of the like.  My relatives were often instructed, before the phone was handed to me, to let me guess who was on the other end.

Really, it was just a different teaching technique.  A different way of focusing my attention.  Making learning fun for me, because the normal classroom setting bored me to tears.  And it’s one of the reasons that, until I stopped caring about school, I was always at the head of my classes.

But my parents forgot to tell me, when they stopped playing those games with me, that if you don’t keep at it you may lose it.  And it didn’t even occur to me until I began to notice just how bad my attention to detail, and ability to remember things, and attention span have become.

It makes me feel weak.  And helpless.  And stupid.  And worthless.  And it’s driving me insane.

I know that wasn’t M’s intention.  He didn’t point out just how much He does to keep me from feeling that way to make me feel bad.  He was simply making a point.

I guess one could argue the theory that His constant correcting and reminding has made me dependent.  One could argue it’s kept me dependent.  Enabled me.  And maybe it has.  But I’m not helping matters by making no effort to correct it myself.  And I’m tired of feeling weak and helpless.

It’s time for me to get off my ass and do something about it.  No more excuses.

  1. August 27th, 2010 at 02:37 | #1

    Rayne,

    In one of the Dirty Harry movies, his signature quote was, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” This is oh, so true. Congratulations, you’re leagues ahead of many people because you do, in fact, know what you can’t do. More importantly, you know how to overcome and defeat those limitations.

    The most important thing for you to do (and yes, I know you know this) is to stiffle, quash, beat fown with a sledgehammer, those feelings of inadequacy that try to rear their ugly head whenever you stumble. You are not stupid. Who gives a fuck if you’re clumbsy (raising hand to join you). You’re only helpless if you don’t get back up. As for memory, I go through each quarter not knowing what 90% of my students’ names are. I just can’t remember names. I have brain cramps over things I just had on the tip of my mind mere seconds ago. Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

    Sorry, this is a sore point with me. I live with someone who makes everyone walk on egg shells artound here becasue any critisism, hell, any unsolicited help is viewed as a personal attack that she’s stupid, incompetant, etc. It’s taken me all these years knowing her to realize that there are plenty more people who have the same feelings and never say anything. And it simply IS NOT TRUE for any of them (you included, in case I haven’t mentioned that yet).

    Take care, and wish me luck in Australia.

    Dave

  2. August 27th, 2010 at 10:15 | #2

    @dweaver999 I knew you were going somewhere, but I had no idea you were going to Australia! That’s so not fair! But good luck!

  3. August 27th, 2010 at 10:24 | #3

    I used to think I was really clumsy, but when I joined the Air Force I found out that actually I have no depth perception. So now I feel loads better every time I miss turning a corner by a little bit and slam into the wall, but hey, I still look clumsy.

    I feel like this a lot, and I usually find there is a reason for it. For instance, when I spread myself too thin, and it feels like I’m getting nothing done, I’ll just completely shut down entirely, and do nothing at all. That leads to feeling of stupidity, worthlessness, and helpless. Which leads to depression, and even more intense emotions, until I realize it, and cut back on the things I don’t need. I realize, your situation may be different, but it at least gives you another angle to look at as part of the solution.

    In all honesty, there have been times when you were quite literally the only thing holding me together, whether you know it or not. So, I need you, which makes you so not worthless. Muah!

  1. August 26th, 2010 at 16:19 | #1

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