I wrote Courageous Butterfly from my heart, and from the response I received, I'm realizing how similar our personal stories are. My writings are not only to connect with others but to also help me to understand myself better. Thank you for reading my blogs.
It was 4:00 am and I awoke with a strong presentiment to get up and Google “learning disability.” I didn’t really know why my inner-guidance wanted me to search for those two particular words, but for some reason, it made sense. As I was reading a chill went through my body. It was familiar. I heard about dyslexia before but did not really know what it meant. In my understanding, I thought it was about reading backwards or seeing letters reversed. As I researched, I recognized several symptoms; feeling mentally exhausted after reading, struggling with writing & reading comprehension, unable to read for long periods of time, forgetting what I had just read, reading the sentence over again to accumulate information, slow reader, experiencing frustration, and feeling inadequate and ashamed when reading aloud. Some of these symptoms I overcame and some are still present to this day.
I will share with you the experience with my dyslexia diagnosis. As I entered the doctor’s office on August 10, 2011, I realized these tests where usually done for children having difficulties in school. The room looked as if I was in a third grade classroom, with children books and hand made clay figurines everywhere. I felt a bit out of place, as I was in my late forties. However, I sat down on a chair behind a desk facing the therapist. She asked questions about my reasons for being there, and then, she opened a fifth grade book and asked me to read it. My heart started pumping too fast and I became frantic. “I don’t like to read aloud,” I said. “I know,” she replied. “That’s the reason you are here.” I started to read, focusing on every word one at a time. I felt disoriented and knew I was not doing a good job. A lump came to my throat, I became very emotional. I tried to hold back my tears, but the old feelings kept coming back; embarrassment, humiliation, frustration, not being enough, stupid, slow… “Take some deep breaths Nancy,” the Pyschoeducational therapist suggested. I took deep breaths, but I knew it would not end. The emotions came from deep within. It needed to come out. I began to read again, and my voice started to shake. I covered my face to hide my pain, and exploded into tears. “Nancy, tell me what is going on? What do you feel right now?” she said. “I feel like I’m 12 years old, I’m sitting in a classroom reading and struggling. I feel retarded and stupid,” I confessed. “Get it all out. You’ve kept this unbearable hurt inside way too long; it’s time to free yourself.” I cried and cried, and it felt good to let it all out. Then, unexpectedly, I wanted to laugh. I wanted to laugh at all the insanity, all the lies I have been telling myself over and over for more the forty years. It was as if a light had been turned on. I saw how all of this had affected me. It played a significant role on my self-esteem and self-worth, it made me feel small and inadequate, causing me to have to prove myself, and to please continuously. All my life I questioned my intelligence. Deep down I knew I was not stupid, and yet, I questioned myself. This was a very powerful turning point for me. I felt validated. The therapist reopened the book and asked me to read a first grade story. I had to laugh at the situation, and yet, the habit of proving myself made that moment embarrassing. She said; "Now tell me what you read". I was shocked. I didn’t recall a thing, not a single thing. My full attention was on reading each word perfectly, and I realized quickly how self-conscious I was. We then moved on to different tests, and I recognized with each test how severe my difficulties were. My brain became confused and was overwhelmed easily. It couldn’t focus on more than one word at a time and that’s why I’m a 'bad' and slow reader.
The therapist explained; "Nancy, you are forty eight years old and you took the initiative to get to the root of your struggle with reading. You are not stupid, you have the gift of dyslexia." The gift; I said. She replied;' "Yes, most dyslexic people are highly creative and intuitive. They think with pictures instead of words. They have strong wills and powerful determinations. Look at your life; you go after what you want. Your difficulty to express yourself, read and write didn’t stop you; you wrote a book. You were so determine to show the world that you were not stupid, you became a writer. There is nothing wrong with you, your brain just learns differently. It gets disoriented with trigger words like on, of, too, off, to, over…these little words trigger your dyslexia. Your brain gets confused and you become overwhelmed. You don’t see punctuations because you are too focused on reading correctly. When you read silently your dyslexia is not as severe because your focus is on understanding what you are reading and not on proving yourself. You take time to read and you make sure to comprehend what you’re reading.".
When I came home from the Dyslexia Correction office I jumped in my favourite chair and began to write. I couldn’t put my pen down. I was inspired as I knew many people are going through this similar experience. Again, my purpose is to reach out to others by sharing my story.
I have dyslexia. I wrote a book and I am now on my way to write another.
We can do anything we put our mind to.