By Jeannette McDonald
I realized my life had changed the morning I woke up and the tape that had been playing in my head since I was a young child in school, telling me every day that I was dumb and stupid, stopped playing. Yes, those were the words, “dumb and stupid”. I was in my fifty’s and I remember very clearly waking up and not hearing the message that I was dumb and stupid – it was gone. You can’t imagine what a relief it was not have that swirling in my mind anymore. It was strange but wonderful at the same time. I had lost that part of me.
There is always a “before” and “after” when your life is radically changed. You are headed down one road and then suddenly you are headed down another. Your whole outlook on life is altered.
Anyone who has ever had a problem will tell you that you must be aware of the problem before you can tackle it. If you are in the dark about what is really going on there is nothing you can do to make any changes to improve your life. I’ve heard it said, “Knowledge is power,” and I agree.
I am not saying that finally having that ah-ha moment means everything will get easier. Life is still an uphill battle every day, but in a different way. I’m not fighting the same battle I was when I really thought I had a low IQ and was the dumb of dumbest.
Let me share a little about the “before”. Going to school every day was hard but I never missed a day. Why? I often wonder why I didn’t skip school since I was so miserable. I wanted to be like everyone else. And I wasn’t going to give up. I was constantly embarrassed by my hand writing (no one could read it), spelling (no amount of effort helped) and reading out loud in the class room was torture. I couldn’t pronounce the words on the page.
I got though school, graduated from college at age forty-five and landed a very good job with the government. But nothing I accomplished in my life mattered. I still felt flawed. One of my most telling memories is that at forty years of age, I bought a spelling book to help me learn to be a better speller. I tried and tried to learn how to spell the words, and I cried and cried because even with my hardest efforts… I just couldn’t. Every time I signed up for my next college course, I knew I would fail the class.
During this time, I was also suffering from depression and I went for counseling. I meditated; I took up running and I’m sure I read every self-help book ever written. There is so much more to the “before” but I don’t want to bore you.
Now let’s talk about the “after”. The After. After my life changed and took me into a different direction. If there is a lesson in this story, it is that if you keep searching for the answers, eventually you will find them. I found the answer at fifty-two years of age. It might seem like it’s taking forever but you must never give up.
It happened for me when I found the name of a communications group in the phone book. Yes, a phone book. I made an appointment. I had tests done and discovered I have a word processing disability and ADHD. Finally I knew why I couldn’t spell, pronounce words and had a hard time remembering.
Now my life was better. This is the after. The “after” when you’ve found out what the true problem is. Now you can have the life that you always wanted. The life free of problems and worries. The life where you are really, really happy. The life where your job comes easy, where you don’t have relationship problems, where you are physically and mentally healthy.
I wish it was that way. But my problem did not go away. I now had a name for it, but it did not go away. So, I started on a new path. A path of different doctors. A path with medicine and side effects. But now knew I was not retarded. I could work on my memory problems and my language problem. Now I knew what I was dealing with and I could face the next battle.
It was after I found out why I always had a hard time with certain things in my life that I realized there is no end to the rainbow. I have to keep striving. I need to keep search for the truth of what my life is all about. Everyone has lessons to learn. And as you learn one lesson, another appears. Life is a continuous series of changes. Reaching the top of one mountain does not mean there will not be another mountain to climb. The real lesson for me is to keep climbing each mountain. My life will constantly change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. But I will not be stagnant. I will always live my life to the fullest.