Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here
In Dante’s Divine Comedy, specifically in the first part referred to as Dante’s Inferno, the title of this post appears as the ninth line of a poem carved on the gate to hell.
Where are we going?
I’m not taking us to meet anyone worse looking than our own images in the mirror, so unless you feel particularly satanical, I think we’ll be safe enough. But I am going to offer a new thought. Well, maybe not a new thought, but some in-depth observation on a way of thinking about our lives … or at least the way I’m starting to think about my life.
A look in the mirror
The idea is this: I am me, and I will never be less or more than that.
Recently, I’ve caught myself bouncing back and forth between “This is who I am.” and “I’m looking for something that will help me change.” I’ve been torn, you see, between “This is why I am this way.” and “I want to fit in, be normal.”
And the questions I now find I’m asking the man in the mirror are these:
- Do I want to be this way?
- Do I want to be normal?
And the answer to both questions, for some reason, is “No!”
Why don’t I want to be this way?
I’m not happy with my life lately. But it has less to do with me having ADHD, and more to do with my perception of ADHD. It has nothing to do with who I am or who I want to be, and everything to do with the fact that I think I want to be someone else. I’m torn between wanting to be left unmodified for fear I’ll lose the good in me and wanting to be someone that is having an easier life with less distraction, less procrastination.
If I could change one thing about myself it would be my dissatisfaction with myself. I look around me and I see many people who are role models. They have qualities I am willing to emulate, but they are not people that I would want to be.
Why don’t I want to be normal?
I’ve never met a normal person. Or if I have, they didn’t stick out enough for me to remember them. I think normal would be pretty bland, vanilla pudding before they put the vanilla or the sugar in. I don’t want to be that. I want to be the guy that people remember for good reasons, maybe nutty reasons, certainly eccentric reasons. I don’t want to be “Old Whatsisname,” the guy down the street who used to own the whatsits place and worked somewhere across town doing something or other …
Why what? Oh – why do I not want to be normal and why do I not want to think I need to change? Well, for fifty years I thought I was normal … okay, I thought I was at least living on the outskirts of normal. But I didn’t think I was so far out there that there was a label for me. And I was getting it done. I was getting by, filing my taxes every third year and paying my mortgage, most of the time, and getting to appointments and keeping food in the fridge and gas in the tank.
Nothing has changed except that I know I have ADHD. If knowledge is power, why do I feel more alienated now than I did before? Ignorance may be bliss, but the ignorance of ADHD in others is anything but blissful for us.
And yet, I wish to be accepted on my own merits
In Dante’s Divine Comedy we are cautioned against entering into Hell, but we are taken there anyway. The message is that there is no choice as to whether we move on, and maybe there’s no choice as to where we move on to. But there is a choice as to our attitudes.
Make mine accepting, and a little bit bad I think … I’m going to need it for where I’m going.
Babcock, K. (2013). Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-man/2013/03/abandon-all-hope-ye-who-enter-here/