In many ways, it is a blessing to have ADHD because if something hurts you can quickly retract and move on to something else. For those of you that do not have ADHD, imagine putting your finger in a fire. Those with ADHD can quickly withdraw and move to something else, but don’t learn much. Those without ADHD, however, take longer to withdraw their finger but the burn is imprinted in their mind so they do not do it again.
It’s how I see my ADHD. I’ve had similar situations happen over and over again, and wonder what it is that I am not getting. Why my behavior is not changing, and why I continue to throw myself into the fire again and again. I have finally come to realize, through therapy, reading, and the constant struggles of ‘why,’ that I am simply not standing in the pain long enough to understand the lesson I need to learn.
I was diagnosed with PTSD after I lost my father to suicide. Quite frankly, it was all too much to handle. It is as if I had two lives, one pre and one post the loss of my father. I had no concept of reality from prior to losing my dad and blamed my issues on the loss, not at the deep seated pain I had prior to the loss.
So my body shut off and kicked in certain coping mechanisms. The pain was simply too great. Unfortunately, I continued putting myself in ‘similar’ situations to re-experience the pain, without really understanding that I was doing it let alone why I was doing this terrible thing to myself.
I feel like right now I am taking my hand back and sticking it in the fire. Holding it there. Forcing myself to explore the pain for what it is – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learning how to dive into the pain and explore the dark crevices, the murky waters, and the stagnant muck so that it can be removed makes way for a thriving environment.
I’m seeing my father for who he was for the first time. I’m understanding that I can’t control anyone’s happiness but my own. I have continually been told ‘you are not responsible,’ but a part of me knows that I am. But that it is OK, I did the best I could with what I knew at the time and what was within my capability. And that is all I can ever expect of myself.
From sitting in this pain I’m making different decisions with people I care about, and making sure the people I surround myself with have my best interests at heart. This is no small task, and it is not easy to sort out who does and who does not. My willingness to jump into new relationships and immediately form bonds shows just how far I have to go in managing these impulses and trusting everyone.
People who have taken advantage of my generosity, willingness to help, and even impulsivity have been removed from my life, even as the pain of doing that seemed to drown me. Those who are close to me know my situation, and have helped me regain control and comfort in the direction of my life, recognizing impulsive behaviors and throwing me red flags. They know my triggers and are sensitive to my needs, putting me first even when I can’t seem to do so.
I’m learning that boundaries are healthy, even though they are difficult to construct and take effort after effort after effort to enforce. I don’t drink, and it may make me a boring person in many regards, but the short term pain is nothing compared to the long-term feelings of self-worth. I’m pushing myself to face the long term and my impulsive decisions that affect it in both positive and negative ways.
ADHD makes it hard to sit in pain. Every impulse in our body tells us to escape it. Take the easy road, the safe road. But the reality is we can only do that for so long, until everything comes crashing down around us.
My brother gave me the card above shortly after my father passed. It is my most favorite card of all time. I had no idea how relevant it would be in my life until today. There is a life of pain avoidance, and one of pain discovery and exploration, and I am finally choosing the latter.