In the TV version of The Stand, the big, brave, slow guy said “I HATE being retarded.”
He had been born retarded, but, unlike most big blond men, he was a hero in the movie.
I really identified with him.
I HATE the fact that I not only have ADD (attention deficit disorder), I have DISABILITY LEVEL ADD. A lot of people have ADD, but mine is extreme.
But my disability does not allow me to signal it. I don’t carry a stick and wear black glasses or sit in a wheelchair. I just often look like an incompetent fool or do something that seems thoughtless and rude, and I have to explain it, which is very hard on a man’s ego.
Then they tell me they know how it feels, meaning that with some World War II Heroism I could overcome it. I have never heard anybody explain to a guy in a wheelchair that they know how it feels because their legs get tired a lot, or to a blind man that they know how it feels because they can’t read small print.
So the humiliation is increased when, trying to explain why I made a particular gaffe that may have sounded rude, like not remembering their name.
This is documented ADD that is at a level where, unlike the more general cases, gets me a disability check for it. The requirements for this are rigid and well documented.
The forensic psychiatrists who tested me had, like the others, been sent the official record of my work. One of them said, “I could have sworn from your tests that you could not have done this.”
My smartass reply was, “Half of it hasn’t been declassified yet.” That was true, though far less than half. But it felt very good NOT to have to explain myself for once.
So, while I prefer to be known for pure brilliance, the fact is that part of my strength and reducing things to essentials is due to overcoming a disability. A lot of top athletes used to be people who had had relatively mild cases of Polio. Once they fought their way back from THAT, going on to do the disciplined work it took to rise to athletic superiority was easy.
So don’t get upset if I forget your name. I am also incompetent at thinking of examples of things. Brian has learned to simply take my word for weaknesses and he just goes in and takes care of whatever I need without making me explain it.
There is no doubt in my mind that this Disability level ADD is part of what has given me strength other people do not have. It is hard to cow somebody who has had to fight it out in public all alone when he has had to regularly overcome a disability that made me so often look like a fool.
I regularly couldn’t remember an example or a name or a fact or where I was in the discussion. In fact, I was bad at the very things everybody who speaks in public has nightmares about.
Yes, it is hard not to think of the quote, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
The man who said that died in a madhouse.
My disability was not discovered until I was in my fifties. I had spent my whole life thinking I was especially dumb in many ways and in my childhood being cussed at for my lack of discipline and my wandering mind.
So I understand the bullying you have gone through on a very personal level, and I think you pick up on that.
Oddly enough, the very thing that made me feel like an intellectual jelly roll all my life made me as hard as steel compared to those not so handicapped.
So if I forget the name that goes with a comment I admire, try to remember that that goes with the territory that made me reduce things to insights that you want to read.
It also explains why I delegate so well, and why my ambition is to have you charge in and do my job.
People who have been subjected to a lot of cruelty tend to like ironic humor. The irony of all this is that all the hundreds of people who lectured me about how one can overcome one’s mental failings with mental discipline were bitching at the best example of doing just that they would ever meet.