Then I went back through 55 years.
I remember my grade 4 teacher telling the class about a show that was going to be on TV called “The National Dream”. The teacher said it would be a series of shows and that it would start on Thursday, which was the next day.
We were gathered in the living room waiting for the show to start on CBC. It wasn’t on. I can remember my reaction like it was yesterday instead of 45 years ago. I became distraught, crying and saying that I knew that every other kid in my class was going to be watching the show that night, and I was the only one who couldn’t watch it. Somehow it was my fault that the show was not playing on our TV.
The next day the teacher apologized because she had told us the wrong day.
In later years I would plan birthday parties and worry that none of the friends that I invited would show up.
As an adult holding “open house” events for products I was selling, no one would show up, even though I was sure they said they would come by. It must have been my fault, right?
Even last summer when a conversation with someone had me going back over the last 36 years, rehashing every interaction that we had. They probably never really liked me anyway.
It’s only normal because it’s all you know
So many years of being a people pleaser, of being a caretaker and trying to make other people proud of me.
I thought everyone was like that. Well, that’s not true exactly. I knew not everyone reacted that way. My behaviour has been called “overly sensitive”, “overly dramatic”, and just “overly” in general. I just didn’t know any other way of being. Even when I could see myself that I was “overreacting” I couldn’t stop myself, and I didn’t know why.
Google here I come
I did some more research, and found this site. www.additudemag.com.
Rejection sensitive dysphoria, or the extreme emotional pain linked to feelings of rejection and shame, commonly affects children and adults with ADHD.
There was a self test, which I took, of course. I scored 67%. Then I found this post, which I felt the author had written about me.
Being in my 50’s and uncovering answers to questions that I stopped asking has been a real gift. I “self diagnosed” my ADD. Knowing that there is RSD, and that it’s not “all in my head” (or maybe it is?) has opened some doors for me. I have tackled a few situations lately where I can look at it objectively and assess what it really happening.
In the last few years I have made a conscious decision to take back my power from other people and to not let their opinions of me matter more than my own. Has it been easy? Nope. Have I always been successful? Nope. But finding out about RSD has helped me to reframe and move forward.
I know that I will have other situations to deal with and other people who will still think I am “overly”, and that I have people around me who know my truest self.
If this story has resonated with you, please leave a comment.