Your Reaction is Not Discourse

If you consider how people piss you off, what do you make of that, exactly?

Is it their fault? Yours? Both? Depends?

I have a tendency to situate myself as either a victim or defender of the victim. I just gravitate toward those roles, it’s taken years to even begin to unlearn it. What I’m not comfortable with is the position of the perpetrator, I avoid it, and sometimes in doing so can actually behave aggressively, mainly toward myself but it can also be toward others. So as a practice, I’m always interested in what comes up for me when someone really gets on my nerves.

I’ve had plenty of opportunity to explore this recently as I’ve shared my ADHD diagnosis with other people.

So rather than rant about what is wrong with these fucking people, which has been my usual pattern, I’m going to write about what comes up for me when people say the things they do, using I statements.

Dear Friends/Family/Acquaintances:

When you say I should explore holistic options, I feel an urge to defend my reality, to show my own research, to avoid the feeling of being misunderstood, to fight the sense of being judged.

When you say you don’t believe in ADHD, I feel an urge to explain my experience.

When you say that ADHD is caused by negligent parenting, I feel a burst of shame, then anger, a desire to push back.

When you say that you’ve heard ADHD medication can cause a lot of problems, even heart attacks, I feel an urge to educate you about the research I’ve done. I feel fear, the way I always do when someone brings up images of pain, death. My father died from a heart attack. It was not from ADHD medication.

When you say that everyone has ADHD, I feel a sense of erasure, a fear of not being seen. This is familiar for me, and I feel a kind of telescope of pain back to my family of origin.

When you say that ADHD is a conspiracy of big Pharma, I feel a wound, an old wound from being asked to prove what I know, being told what I feel will never matter as much as what others believe.

When you say ADHD is something that can be treated with a proper diet, I feel a sense of depression, a collapsed rage.

When you say ADHD is something that can be managed with exercise and meditation, I feel a sense of inadequacy and failure.

When you say ADHD is nothing more than an addiction, I feel confused.

When you say you don’t know a lot about ADHD, other than what you’ve heard, but you’re curious about my experience with it. When you ask me what it’s like for me, I feel like we could actually get somewhere.

So if you want to talk about what you think about my ADHD, get ready for a real conversation. Because I’m going to hold you accountable for your own shit, too. What is it about my diagnosis that brings up something in you? Where are you going with your stories, and where have you been?

Is there something in you that fears the thing that comes up when we talk about my ADHD? What is it? What is the thing?

Because it doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with me.

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