Sunday, February 15, 2009

Getting it Right This Time

I love the Hellboy movies. It's not just that I am an action and sci-fi junkie, but there really are very deep messages imbedded in these movies (not to mention Hellboy loves cats, beer, cigars, candy bars, and a certain brunette!).

Besides kicking ass and taking names later (only of the bad guys, of course), I think the best thing about these movies are the recurring and imbedded themes of love and acceptance.

The first message I take from these movies is that of learning to accept, respect, and love those who are different (defective, even - at least in the opinion of oneself or others).

There is a line in the first Hellboy movie. Agent John Meyers states that his Uncle once said "We like people for their qualities, but we love them for their defects." In many ways, I believe that this is true.

I couldn't begin to list my multitude of defects, but the one, of course, that stands out the most is my A.A.D.D. (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder). I think this is something that has been attractive to my past "mates" and my current and forever life partner (MB or my brunette.) Because of the A.A.D.D., (a) I am rarely boring; (b) there's hardly an awkward silence because I tend to always fill it up and (c) I am a bit of a risk-taker, which I think makes me a bit exciting (and scary) at times.

Of course, my past "mates" would likely tell you that (a) I never finish anything, (b) I am extremely messy, and (c) I don't know how to relax. And they would pretty much be telling the truth. The difference between these mates and MB is that MB has worked very hard to understand the disorder and to accept the challenge of understanding and dealing with it -- hopefully, organizing me and channeling my energy into productive things (Ha! ever heard of the difficulty in hearding cats? That is probably much easier than organizing me!)

At any rate, MB seems to love me enough to work together to figure this out. That means so much to me and I really look forward our future together.

The second, and probably most important, message in the Hellboy movies is that of self-acceptance. TB (The brunette - aka Liz Sherman) has a deep desire to "fit-in" with those who are "normal." On many levels I can related to this one, too. Having worked extremely hard to hide my "defects" from those around me (both family and friends) in order to fit in has taken its toll on me -- but in many ways it has been a positive.

I've always worked harder than most to try to prove I was as good as everybody else and to be sure that I fit in. I became (still am) a chronic over-achiever (3 college degrees, 2 full-time jobs at a time, top award winner among my colleagues at my place of work, etc) .

Unfortunately, this has certainly adversely affected my personal life as I often turned to work when it was hard to cope with the stress of the day-t0-day. Many of my friends, colleagues, family, and loved ones consider me a work-a-holic. To me, it's just normal. Couple my desire to prove my self-worth with the energy of having A.A.D.D and that is a perfect recipe for work-a-holism.

Reflecting on the 1st half of my life and realizing that I really have wasted many years trying to prove myself to others (when I really needed to just prove it to myself) makes me want to learn to let go and relax. MB helps me with this. This help, along with my desire to get it right this time, will hopefully mean a more fulfilling 2nd half of my life. I have faith that it will.

So, the Hellboy movies really are awesome Good versus Evil movies. They make us think about accepting and loving each other for our defects. They make us think about accepting and loving ourselves for our defects. They make us realize that self-acceptance is more important than acceptance by others.

But, mainly, they tell us there is not a damn thing wrong with liking beer, cigars, and a good-looking brunette!


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Wall Street Brain

An ex once told me that my brain was like a Wall Street ticker... it ran and changed constantly. After some thought about it (and lots of other things of course), I realized that this is somewhat true. It does run constantly. It seems a bit chaotic. It's always changing gears.
But, there really is a method behind the madness.

This is a pretty good description of what it is like

to live with A.A.D.D. (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder).

My brain in constantly in overdrive. It makes multi-tasking easy, but it makes finishing a task nearly impossible. I've been pretty lucky in that my other abilities (intelligence, creativity, and charm!) have allowed me to cope with this disorder and be a successful and productive person.

But it hasn't been easy.

Sometimes, I appear to be rude. A thought pops in and just comes out...even if somebody else is in the middle of a sentence. A seemingly focused conversation can go from the target to something that appears to be unconnected. Connecting the dots between point A and point Z can be hard to do. Hence, the line "Oh Look! A chicken!"

It also makes my memory simply suck. While I can somewhat easily recall facts about events or some obscure factoid from the long-ago past, I can't tell you what you may have just said to me

. . . especially if you weren't making eye-contact with me at the time you made the statement.

And It's not that I don't want to listen. It's just that if I am trying to focus on something (like a work task, or reading a web page or newspaper), you may as well be talking to a brick wall. I may say something like "uh huh" or "right," but don't ask me to repeat what you said as you can simply forget that.

Pair that with a bit of hearing loss (played the drums for 5 years with no ear protection) and a conversation at a noisy restaurant or within a large group of people makes me feel like I am listening to the radio and the dial is constantly being changed. Bits and pieces come in, but quickly change to something else and then to something else and then to something else. Sometimes that makes me appear withdrawn or quiet in these situations.

I try to cope with this by keeping a notebook with lists of tasks. I wish you could see the stack of notebooks that I have for just last year. This works well for a while; then, of course, I change the notebook...or I can't find the notebook...or I've left the notebook somewhere.

I think the worst part of having A.A.D.D. is that is makes it very hard for me to relax and I often wear out the ones who live with me (that and the fact that I seem to keep losing expensive things .. like cell phones and designer prescription sunglasses.) I want to be neat. I want to be organized. I want to turn off the thoughts of the tasks that need to be my personal life or just for fun. But, I often find I just can't do it. I try to do it. I can do it for short periods of time. Then, all of a sudden everything is back to being chaotic and messy again.

Until I was 40 years old, I rarely slept more than 5 hours a night. It would take me 2 hours to fall asleep and then I could only do it with the TV on. Then, I'd wake up in the middle of the night and start to think about what I should be doing instead of sleeping. I had some very productive years! I was the envy of those who worked with me because I was so productive. I was like the Energizer Bunny! But, I almost crashed and burned.

This lack of sleep over many years caused many physical and mental health issues. I had joint pain, memory loss (to the point of not being able to find my car in a parking lot). It was like I had early dimentia (some still think I do!) So, I finally gave into medicating myself - - at least to sleep.

I've tried the medication that they have for A.A.D.D. Unfortunately, I also have headaches and stomach issues and found them to be intolerable. Gosh, this makes me sound like a mess . . . and sometimes I am.

All in all, however, I am happy with myself and my life. My biggest fear is that those around me, especially my partner, family and friends - all of whom I truly cherish - will not understand that they are really the focus of my life. . . even when it doesn't seem that way!

~ Wally

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