Have you ever been afraid of closing your eyes before falling asleep, dreading the thoughts that could appear in the darkness behind your closed eyelids or the dreams you could have?
My traumas have this obnoxious habit of pulling out on me a “Freddy Krueger” from time to time, even before entering Freddy’s domains. And one night, on top of it, I had a heartbreaking worry.
Consequently, my brain had triggered a line-up of apocalyptic negative thoughts, that were hammering my soul. Ruminating, for someone with the so-called ADHD (like yours truly), resembles to a hamster in a mouse wheel. I was rolling in the deep listening to those creepy Freddy’s kids singing, “One, two, dreams are dying for you,” unable to realize I could just jump off, snap out of it.
I was devastated, and I… , I guess I needed the hug of the mom I’ve never met. A voice which I could trust, without a doubt, telling me, “You’re gonna be fine.”
However, I do have an almost invincible inner strength, which I take for granted most of the times. One that whispers, “Your brain is lying to you. Make it shut up. Jump off the wheel.” And on that night it said, “Call TED”. So I did.
Full disclosure: The first time someone mentioned to me a TED talk, I said, “Yeah, great talks!” while I was thinking, “Who the heck is Ted.”
Over the years I’ve come to accept one thing I had been taught decades before: “One can’t know it all, and it’s ok. Raise your hand; that’s how we learn.” Since then, I embrace my ignorance as if it were a newborn that needs to be fed. It is an act of love. Back then, googling “Who is TED” was an act of love.
Now that we’re buddies, I have him on speed dial… I’ve got the app on the first screen of my iPad, ok? And it has options, buttons to choose from. Such as health, technology, inspiration, …, “help my soul is dying”. I clicked on this one.
The first video I got as result had a woman on its cover with such sweetness in her face. Its title was “12 Truths I Learned From Life and Writing”. She looked like the kind of intellectual who had it all figured out, as if anyone could do such thing. And in the description, it said that before turning 61 years, she had written those 12 truths.
“I need her”, I thought.
Anne Lamott was her name (it still is) and at the beginning of her introduction she said, “(…) we’re a mixed grill of happy anticipation and dread. So, I sat down a few days before my 61st birthday, and I decided to compile a list of everything I know for sure.”
“A list”, “of everything”. That’s ADHD porn.
But she finished that first thought saying, “For instance, I am no longer 47, although this is the age I feel, and the age I like to think of myself as being.”
And my whole being froze for a second.
Within my brain, all those thoughts that were hammering me, just stopped. A little one raised its hand and softly said, “I wished I was 61 and had that wisdom”. Another one added, “I wish I’d feel the age I am.” And from the back bottom of it, one jumped yelling, “Don’t say it out-loud!”
They remained chatting politely, while I continued watching Anne sharing her truths about life, writing, loss… But I could still hear them taking notes, brainstorming, making me wonder “What do I know for sure? Do I even know something for sure?”
And suddenly this… thing started building up within me. Fear.
“She’s going to make me face my age and what I should have done by now. This is going to hurt. Fuck.”
I’ve been on this earth for quite some time. But whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I see the same old me (except for when I haven’t dyed my grey hair) I don’t have wrinkles. When I smile, my eyes still shine like the ones of that daydreamer girl I once was. So driven and filled with hope, whose dream I’ve turned into a goal, a life purpose.
The passing of time is something I don’t see in my body. Although I do feel it when I wake up sore as if a truck had run over me during my sleep… And also in my soul, which carries the load of the traumas I’ve survived since I cried for the very first time.
So I got to wonder, “Am I aware I’m older? I did learn a thing or two…”
And then … “Oh my God. Am I facing ‘this’ like an adult?”
I must confess, I feel ashamed for having asked that question. One that has as many answers as people from different places, backgrounds, and cultures, are walking this earth. Furthermore, for having done so when I have ADHD. My kind of adult resembles to an experienced, reflective, and resilient toddler.
It was an impulse! But one based on a reasonable fundament. As a child I thought one had the choice to not become an adult, and I took it. God forbid I’d turn into one of those flat boring creatures, worried about what an old man in the TV had to say about inflation, instead of watching The Goonies, again.
Adults weren’t so bad though. I noticed they would only cry at funerals. So tough! And nothing like me… I’d cry about the littlest things, even about happy things. Because of that, people would make me feel I was dumb, “just a kid.” And they made me consider growing up.
I was about to pursue that horror at age 19. But one day I read, “Being a child is wonderful. But even more wonderful is to keep that inner child alive within us.”
Back then I thought, “A-ha! I was right!”
But on that night…This: MY ELDEST CAT HAD GONE BLIND AND I WAS IN MOURNING FOR HIS SIGHT.
Winky. My soulmate for seventeen years. The Sam to my Frodo who almost died – TWICE – and decided to be strong and stay. He told me so.
He had gone blind, and I could feel his fear, his confusion. For weeks I faced the traffic during the first light of the morning – which blinds me –, to take him to specialists, cardiologists, and else.
I was given hope, and then they ripped it away from me.
I was devastated.
Now, in the version of the neurotypical adult I had, this situation would have happened in a very different way…
Something like, this:
Laly hears the doorbell and rushes to the living room. She bumps into a cat that is walking in circles close to his bed.
“Ugh! Here”, Laly says, picking him up and putting him over his bed.
Laly walks toward the door, opens it, and welcomes her friend,
“Hey” – air kiss to the right, air kiss to the left – “I’m exhausted”, Kiki says, taking off her scarf and handing it and her bag to Laly. “I had to leave the boys at my mom’s house ‘cos Richard had a game with ‘the guys’”
“Oh, he is playing soccer again? That’s great!”
“Fantasy football, honey. I am fucking a brown Michelin.”
“C’mon! It’s a phase! He’s gonna lose the weight.”
“That man is going to… Oh! Mr. Paw!!!”, Kiki exclaims as she sees the cat approaching her. She bends over to pick him up.
“No! Don’t … pick … him up”, Laly says looking at Kiki, who is already holding the cat and petting it.
Laly adds, “He went blind…”
“Ohhh… I’m so sorry!”
“Yeah. It gets confused if you pick him up.”
“Oh, you poor thing…”, says Kiki kissing the cat on his head.
“Poor thing? This has ruined my life. I cannot move furniture anymore!”
“Your ADHD therapy!”
Kiki bends over to leave the cat on the floor.
“No, no! Put him over his bed!”, Laly says, too late. The cat is already walking away.
“Sorry! Should I get him?”, Kiki asks.
The cat bumps into a chair.
“I don’t know what he wants.”, Laly says.
The cat bumps into another chair.
“Maybe he wants food”, Kiki replies
The cat starts walking in circles.
“He’ll find it”, Laly says, “Margaritas?”
Laly and Kiki head over the kitchen. The cat remains walking in circles. The end.
That was not happening at my place. I couldn’t stop thinking, “Did he try to tell me? When was the last time he looked at me in the eyes, the last time we looked at each other? Did he ever think, “mama, I feel I’m losing you”, “mama I don’t understand what’s happening”.
… “Mama, I can’t see you.”
His doctors told me, “Most people don’t realize when cats go blind; there’s nothing you could have done.” “He’ll adapt, don’t worry.” But just before having found Anne’s TED Talk, I couldn’t see further from that moment of self-inflicted misery I was trapped in.
People always said to me “What a beautiful smile you have!” Hence when I met him, when I felt this unknown sense of belonging at first sight, I named him “Winky”. I knew from the start “we’d go together, like a wink and a smile.”
And we did…
But our lives had changed… I couldn’t dream anymore about moving to NYC where my soul has finally found its home. This city chokes me but it’s where the home he knows is.
And so all I could hear was, “One…, two…, dreams are dying for you.”
You may say, “You can move in the future, Laly”. Yes, when he is dead. My love for him has kept me alive. How could I continue without him?
I have lived such a rich life. Since very young age, I decided I was going to go through life as if I were starring in a movie where I was the hero. I lived in a magical and loving world. But as it happens in all magic realms, there are dragons; and I had to slay many of them…
… Those really got in the middle of my “purpose”. I’d experience a wonderful moment, worthy of a happy ending for my story, and I’d begin writing “the best story ever”. But then another dragon would show up before I’d finish it…
That shift from being so happy to slaying dragons was so consistent, that I thought my writing was cursed. So I stopped writing… And my brain reinforced this human stupid fear that if we’re truly happy, something bad will happen.
On that night I was thinking, “If I achieve my ultimate goal, I will lose the ultimate love. His.”
But then I looked at him, snuggled up next to my pillow…
“He is tired. He is waiting for me to do what I should have done by now. I need to just do it. Fuck.”
I finished watching Anne’s TED Talk, fell asleep and woke up the next morning fueled by dopamine. As if my fears and doubts had stored all of it for years, and they were now handing me the keys. I began developing the relaunch of this blog and that is all I did for months, until today.
Change, growth, they don’t happen overnight. They are not two-minutes makeovers of a popcorn movie. In real life, we ache until the tears that will be always waiting to come out, become something we learn to live with.
The truth is that night, I was so afraid of facing what I needed to do, I was so exhausted already for the work I’d need to do, that I spent a few hours watching Jimmy Fallon’s mean tweets.
And fear is like weed, you know? The bigger the garden you’re creating, the bigger the room for weed to growth. The bigger the dream, the bigger the fear.
But that inner strength I have (and which I take for granted most of the times) made me see my coward excuses as stray dogs I cannot nor want to adopt. So, I petted them… and I walked away.
I worked to relaunch this blog for almost a year.
Because there are a couple of things I know for sure.
That little girl who was sexually abused at age seven, who made me promise her to be a hero and tell people about it… She is tired too. Tired of waiting. Tired of me imprisoning her dream because of dragons that may or not show up. That is life in a magical realm after all.
That sweet girl who felt an alien for not knowing she was a HSP nor what this ADHD was doing to her brain; the one who felt the need for search for “something else, a home”, for decades, without knowing that she was indeed far away from her mother… She needs a win.
I kept one promise. I didn’t become one of those boring flat creatures. Now I need to fulfill the other.
For I know that I cannot live my worst nightmare: to wake up at 61 and think, “I wish I was 45. I had so much…time… I had it all.”