Writing: labor of love (or until your luck ran out)

Pencil Refraction

Writing my thoughts or to any kind of writing that consists of a paragraph is difficult. It isn’t due to lack of ideas. I have learning disabilities that make it very challenging for me to spell, proofread, listen, and paying attention.

Every post I write is run through two grammar checks and numerous revisions (this post took 400 minutes of editing time). I was using three, but that confused for me because each program would not agree on correct grammar, ugh! I never knew about my disability when I was young, thou, I knew I had a problem starting in junior high. I would try to avoid any kind of writing in high school through junior college.

My greatest fear is in class essays. There was nowhere to escape. I developed the strategy to pre-write my essay, in advance and memorize it before test day. When I did submit in class essays, no teachers ever counseled me. The school knew I had a difficulty; I was temporary assigned to a Special Ed program in high school. I did not receive any training to help me. Instead, I was given easy writing assignment to complete. I guess school policy was to make sure I graduate, thus end to the problem.

It was until my jobs required me to write reports and memo, that when anxiety set in. By then computers and programs were advanced enough to help me, somewhat. I lean heavily on significant other and partners throughout my life to help me complete my work. I felt I was depended on them, cause them an inconvenience, and felt indebted, health dose of self-ashamed.

Over the years, I saw job openings that I qualified for, but did not apply after reading their job descriptions. When I was 40 years old, I changed careers and that first new job was worst I ever held. Every week, I had to write personalized letters and memos to homeowners, staff, supervisors, and city council members.

Like in school, I devised a plan. I created boilerplate letters and memos on all job-related subjects. I just needed to fill in the blanks. However, like in school, there were times I needed to create a new type of document, immediately. So I arranged with my significant other that I would email it to them, and they would proofread and sent it back to me.

However, to maintain a continuous lie; you need to be clever, have fear, and lots of energy. Even so, like all lies, the odds are against you, like at a blackjack table; the house will always win at the end. That day, what I call “true will set you free,” I can still remember. A memo needed to be done that day, and I had no one proofread it. My supervisor was not happy after reading it. I finale explained my limitation, and she became very angry.

She is what you call a bully; with her uncensored, loud, rageaholic she belittle me. It took about a month for the employee’s union step in and settled the matter. However, there was nothing I could do to stop the cruel gossip that circulated in city hall.

It forces me to confront my disability, and I was tested at local college. I was diagnosed with Audio Processing Disorder, which means I cannot process words fasten to grasp them or even understand them. So when people speak I don’t catch all the words they said. I can hear them, but my brain can’t process it. There is simply a void space in their speech. Like any learning process, if I’m tired, sick, or worried, there are more silence spaces in their speech. When one has a handicap, that they want to hide, one has to adopt. Speech has a predicted pattern of words. When people start conversation, I can foresee how their conversation will continue and at times can finish their sentence for them.

However, if I miss a keyword or the subject matter, I‘m screwed, literally. I know we are talking about your inconvenience, but I didn’t catch that one important word. So I don’t completely understand what we are talking about. I could ask them, but conversation has moved too far along and the shame has nestled in. So I will continue the lie (the conversation) until I can figure it out. Sometime I can never solve the riddle, especial if we are in crowded room with many conversations are going on at the same time.

The one dialogue I can’t predict the words are sequence of numbers. I have replayed voice-mail messages four to six times, so I can write down the whole phone number. Sometime there is one number of sequence that I can’t grasp more matter how many time I replay the message. According to my test results it takes me three to four times longer to write, the then average person.

The ironic part is I can’t even hear my own speech correctly, thus I when proofread, out loud, I can’t hear the proper tense, plural, or missing words within the sentence. I also can’t sound out words, and at times experience Attention Deficit Disorder.

It wasn’t until 2009, that I finally began to let go of the shame. After watching the movie, The Reader, the process started. A woman allowed herself be convicted a life sentence, for a crime she did not commit, to conceal that she is illiterate. I felt empathy to this character and completely understand why she did it.

And I realized I have been doing the same thing, every day, for decades; convicting myself. Now, I accept the fact will make grammar mistakes no matter how carefully I am; I don’t need to agonize over a sentence because it doesn’t define myself-worth.

One of the things to do before you die: self-acceptance.


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