I needed to go back and learn about my childhood before I could make sense out of the path ahead of me.
But first, an update. So much has happened since my last post, friends. Shortly after publishing my book, Hey God, Why Is Life So Hard?, I reconnected with a community that I considered my family and spent the summer working in tandem with their goals. When I left that community in August 2020, I was heartbroken and exhausted. I’d been focused on manifesting someone else’s dreams instead of my own for too long.
In October 2020, my amazing, comfortable day job became really uncomfortable overnight. It has continued to be a source of stress instead of pride ever since. This blog is full of evidence that I once had a thriving side hustle as a nontraditional wedding officiant for “the unchurched” among us. By unchurched, I mean those who weren’t living their lives by the rules that a disturbing number of wedding officiants were requiring them to. With my day job feeling less and less secure it was time to pursue another side hustle, this one big enough to retire me.
I know I have skills. I have had training in disciplines that I’ve since outgrown, I’ve recovered from child loss, I’m an excellent listener and guide, I just don’t really fit in any standard category. My interests span several different services. So, despite clear messages from the universe that it’s time to leave my job and move forward with my life, I didn’t.
In March, my sister informed me that our mother had a stroke. The next day, we went to the hospital together and, despite covid protocols, we were allowed to visit her together. She had been working to keep her tiny church alive, being both pastor and secretary through a pandemic while ignoring her body’s needs. At 75, she went from an independent woman on the go to no longer being able to get out of bed in a single day.
For six months, my sister, myself, and our mother traveled from one care facility to another looking for a path back to the life she had. Even when that path ended in hospice a few weeks ago, mom fought to return to her life every step of the way. It’s an experience that I’m still processing here but it’s already changed me in profound ways.
I’d never observed my mother before in the ways I was able to see her in the hospital. Her neurodiversity shone like never before and I recognized my own ADHD only after noticing hers. Long forgotten questions finally had answers. We were constantly receiving feedback from staff about how nice we were, especially mom. It pleased mom to be the good, quiet, understanding patient who always thanked everyone for helping her. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it had limits. I never once saw mom compliment anyone or engage with a stranger who was outside of her circle of focus. No kind words when passing someone in the halls, no sincere interest in the lives of anyone around her. Just lots of “thank you” and “no problem I understand”.
For the first time, I was able to really see myself as a product of my mother’s limited worldview. I struggle to remember to compliment people, even the people I love. I tend to have rigid ideas about who does and doesn’t deserve my energy and attention.
After my mother died, I went through an envelope full of my old report cards and saw the signs of a girl with undiagnosed ADHD in a system that just wanted her to sit down and be quiet. I had completely forgotten about that little girl.
Moving forward, I have a much better grasp of my situation. I understand why I’m thrashing around and not creating what I want to create. It’s time to stop beating myself up for my lack of focus and learn to work with my neurodiversity as an adult who loves and cares about themselves.
An adult who wants to learn how to love those both inside and outside of her circle.