Push is pull; pull is push. Up is down; down is up. East is….yes, it’s west in my world. If you ask me to push a door I will invariably pull it, and vice versa. Directions—fortunately, we have GPS’s now, and I seriously love getting lost on vacation. Other times, not so much as there’s this thing called “being on time,” and getting lost takes from “being on time.”
When I wrote a first, now discarded, draft of this I realized that the above paragraph describes my topsy-turvy world perfectly. Out of sync with most people I’m still expected to conform to the world, not have the world change just a bit for me.
I’m older and grew up in a time when people followed rules. If you couldn’t follow the rules it was OK to make fun of you, to make slight faces showing your distaste for my pulling the door when I was supposed to be pushing it.
I don’t seem disabled and don’t think of myself as disabled–something that gets me in trouble with younger people who think I should feel proud of my problems. Really? I don’t know too many people with nonverbal learning disorder (NLD) who are truly proud of our disability.
Proud of making it in the world. Yes, of course. Proud of living a full life despite being exhausted from trying to understand when to push and when to pull (metaphorically speaking—though people with NLD aren’t supposed to understand metaphors or use them properly.)
I’m tired of being chastised by parents who are younger than I am for giving my opinions which might not be the opinions that they’re looking for.
I’m tired of younger adults saying that I think that I know it all when I almost always state that I’m talking about me, me and more me. I’m a lot sick of me.
Had I only known about NLD at 47 instead of 57 there’s so much more I could have done to “overcome” it. And I do want to overcome it. There’s nothing fun about always being a step off everyone else.
When I was young–my late teens through my mid-40’s, my problems barely bothered me. I was young, agile both in body and mind and able to deposit many of my problems at the side of the road. Still had I known I wouldn’t have buried my problems so deeply in the road but known how to work on them.
Therapy never worked as the real problems were contained in the NLD. I stymied many therapists, from LCSW’s to internationally known psychiatrists. You know I never really grew used to being the: “You’re so good; so funny and bright, but there’s something….”
After a long time that became dehumanizing. Or maybe it became dehumanizing earlier and I was so determined to keep on making it in the world, I buried the resentments until I couldn’t bury them any deeper.
I don’t believe that I’m owed any favors as I’m an adult. A successful adult who owns her own home four blocks from the beach, makes friends easily and understands younger generations because all the problems they’re undergoing, I’ve gone through first.
Pia Savage, perpetual 20something. Not an identity that I want.
I want to feel accepted by my old friends and my family. I want to feel that my writing about NLD isn’t an embarrassment but something I do because possibly just possibly it helps others.
Unfortunately, I grew up in the 1950’s and ’60’s. We might have broken many rules, but they were rules a significant minority of people decided were acceptable to break. They knew to push when pushing was called for.
And face it we still push when appropriate. There are all kinds of new “rules” about acceptable treatment of the disabled yet they’re not inclusive. If you break one you’re told that you’re an ableist–no nuances, no explanations, no “life isn’t always clear” discussions.
You can never say: “I want to be cured,” because that will show that you’re not accepting of life as it is.
Sometimes, most times, I am. But as I grow older somethings become more difficult for me no matter what I do. I would be an idiot if I didn’t say I want a cure as the things I can’t do–use an inhaler properly, for example–might impact my quality of life or number of years on earth. Yes, damn it I want a cure.
I’m high functioning. As in having been married too young, receiving a Bachelor’s of Science from a compettitve school, A Master’s in Social Work from another “top ranked” school, and a NY state license obtained while I was in school because I’m nothing if not both obsessive and competitive.
I have had careers. I’m well traveled–both with others and alone. How could I not be called high functioning? Along with being high functioning comes a set of problems all its own. More abstract problems–problems that travese the road between “this is a great life, usually,” and “this is a good life with some difficulties and some greatness.”
We need to learn to accept people for who they are, warts and all. We need to say that disorders such as mine are real and shouldn’t be thrown to the back burner.
It would be lovely if people wanted to learn from the oldest known people with the disorder. I have to admit that I’ve debated that one. Younger adults have been diagnosed older. They’ve had treatment. Learned that occupational therapists could help them along with regular therapy. Know so much more than I do….Who am I to think I have something to contribute to the NLD fires?
I am me, that’s who. And that should be good enough.