(Photo: Given how hard it is to date with ADD, this may be my main form of transportation by the time I get paired off. Credit: BoreMe.)
Life would be easier, certainly happier, if the dating foibles I scribe about on CARLESS weren’t true. As it turns out, they’re so true sometimes these days I feel like the butt of the joke of my own love life.
I’d love to point a finger away from myself to lay blame for the over-archingly Eleanor Rigby-ish state of affairs. Maybe I would have cause to do so, too. Maybe not. Trouble is, when you’re dating with Attention Deficit Disorder, you’re never quite sure how much of your own life stress you’re guilty of causing and how much is merely circumstantial.
From the perspective of the gay community, many would call me a “bear”, or at least a “cub”. Not in a Chicago sports team sense. More in a husky-to-overweight queer subculture sense. Lucky for me zaftig sells in Chicago or I might feel insulted to be pegged a part of a crowd to which I so obviously belong.
Or do I? A lot of ADDers go through their lives feeling at a curious distance from the people around them. When you’re never certain about the effects of your behavior on others–or worse, when you don’t even know yet that you have ADD behaviors–you get in the habit of scrutinizing other people for clues that you’ve gotten the right end of the stick in social situations.
Sometimes you’re pretty good at it, for the moment fitting perfectly into whatever social situation you find yourself attached to. But those opposite moments are never far off, moments where you feel a few steps behind everyone else in the conversation and can’t seem to catch up. And everyone else can tell.
Those are the moments you feel like an outcast, or at the very least lonely in a crowd. No matter what crowd, and no matter how much you want to–or under different circumstances would–fit in.
Imagine those out-of-sync moments hitting you more frequently than the in-sync ones. Then imagine them hitting you when you least expect them. Now try to picture yourself spouse-hunting. During them. Putting your best foot forward in any sensible dating sense is never guaranteed when you’re an Adult ADDer.
None of this is to say I haven’t met my unfair share of anger-mismanagers, Kellogg’s flakes, and outlandish excuse-makers recently. (All too recently, if you’ve been following the blog). But when you have an ingrained habit of holding back generated by a chronic neurological miswiring, fear and loathing can develop on both sides of the ostracization issue.
For me, there’s always the fear the short-attention-span theater that is my mind will make me come off as aloof in whatever groups I want to be a part of. At times lately count gay bears, the local Twittersphere, transit advocates, and to chiffon the cake, the forum community of gay podcast Feast of Fools among them.
And when I over-compensate to cover up that fear–as I oh-so-invariably do–there is loathing on the other side from people who wonder whether I’m actually trying to come off as a hard-nosed jerk. Funny thing, most times I am but don’t know it.
My friend, Back of the Yards Rich, asked yesterday, “Are you sure men don’t cause you grief because you seem like such a hard case that they think it won’t matter?”
I told him, no, everyone reads the blog before they talk to me. I invariably hear, “From your writing, I expected you to be a lot less kind-hearted/ sweet/ tender/ etc. than you really are.” In reality, I’m emotionally mushy. Everyone with ADD is. We just cover it up in a misguided gambit to protect ourselves.
It never works out that way, of course. What’s that saying about the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the result to be any different the next time you do it?
Mind you, I’m not saying we ADDers are nuts. I’m just offering some insight into why half the time you non-ADDers seem to think we are.
So I continue the occasional but time-honored ADD bounce from insider to outsider and back again, causing consternation to friends, confusion to strangers, and agida to myself. Considering how much dopamine must be firing in my brain given the Phosphatidylserine and L-Tyrosine doses I’m taking, at least I’m aware enough to recognize when my life turns into that infernal, unexpected handball game.
If only I were smart enough to keep my head down at those times, there’d be a ring on my finger by now instead of bruises to the temple from a steady string of errant Spaldeens.
I discussed those very bruises over Cincinnati chili with fellow ADDer Sole Man Donn the other day. His words to me, “I love being around you when you’re manic, because when I’m around you when you’re manic it always makes my manic seem so much less manic.”
The truth hurts. It almost hurt Donn, too. It was all I could do not to smother the bum with my 5-way.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.