The Thing Is…

Making excuses for a loved one with ADHD is beyond exhausting.

So, I have this certain family member who I have known all of my life, who I have loved more than anyone, and who has given me so much I don’t even know where to begin. The thing is, a lot of people don’t like him.

He has taught me so many things, like how to take apart your gas stove and put it back together (it’s so simple! You don’t have to call for service). And how to cook the most delicious ratatouille from the garden without following a recipe. And how to talk to anyone about anything. He also taught me to always keep a spare key handy, to save ten percent of everything I earn, and to be sweet to little old ladies. He is super charming, and smarter than most humans. The thing is, he can be completely impossible to communicate with.

I really don’t mind that he forgets my birthday, because he eventually remembers and I know he loves me and the un-birthday gifts are always really great. The thing is, my husband notices. And he gets really protective of me.

But I love that he exposed me to the beauty of religious thought, the mysteries of medicine, and the importance of not putting anything on or in your body that is advertised on TV. The thing is, he also has to be right about everything.

This person has taught me to be super tolerant and understanding of the odd ones, the ones who communicate in weird bursts, or talk constantly, or say things that might seem rude. He’s taught me to look for the good in people.

This guy is wicked smart. If you have the time or patience to listen to him go on about how the world got to be the way it is, you will be so impressed by his knowledge. But try to get a word in edgewise, and you’ll end up feeling frustrated. In fact, he is so smart he knows what you are going to say, and finishes your thoughts for you. At different times he’s been labeled dominating, megalomaniacal, bigoted, and a sexist pig because of this insensitivity. But in his heart he is none of those things. He’s a good man, a doctor with great bedside manner, and an asset to his community. He is just hyperactive. The thing about that is, when his charm runs away with him, he’s socially awkward and rude.

This person has an inability to listen to someone else’s heart, since his mind is always racing to conclusions. His own thoughts are louder than yours, when you are talking to him, and, the older he gets, the less likely you will ever get to point B in a conversation…though you will cover points C, F, M, P, S and T before returning to point J. He doesn’t read facial expressions or tone of voice particularly well, so he might think you are really upset when you’re not. He is truly uninterested in thoughts that don’t originate from his own mind, and criticizes people when he seems to be giving them compliments.

The thing is, he is also really loving and altruistic. He has a great sense of humor, he is talented and educated, eager to please. When he is not distracted, he is kind and generous, and desperately caring. I wish other people would see this, and talk about it. I wish it were the old days, when people would give people the benefit of a doubt and not focus on the fact that they are jerks. Because I know he is. I have made room for him all of my life. And I would really like to talk about something else for a while.

The thing is, understanding what ADHD is can help others be compassionate. And it can help a person work through their own self-sabotaging habits.

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