Paralyzed by fear.
If reading and comprehension come easily to you, you may not full understand the paralyzing fear of reading or reading out loud. The fear of being told that you are dumb or stupid, to have teachers and peers make you feel like you less than because it takes you longer to read or process. This was my experience from elementary through middle school and even Jr. High. It was better in High school and much easier during my undergrad.
Tonight, I am sitting at my desk with my printed out essay that I need to read. Its only 9 pages. I start out pretty confident, after all I am 36 and have learned ways to cope with my dyslexia. I have found programs that make my life easier, things that assist with my writing. I buy dual copies of books in paper and audio this helps retain me as I follow along.
In the event that I couldn’t get a text on audio. I would just read it out loud. This works for the most part until I get into textual work or theory, when I get to words I can’t pronounce and start to stubble. I start to get lost in the unfamiliar words. I completed last paragraph on page 3 and the tears start to fall.
I start the next page. Suddenly, I see myself as that 12 year old working on homework for hours, crying and telling my mom that I am stupid. I would get frustrated and she would should different ways to work a math problem, and even though I would finally understand it. I would still cry because I knew that Mrs. Ragor would count it wrong because it had not been done her way. I was teased and told I was stupid by not just my peers but by educators. If I had not had a mother that was determined to help me, I would not be where I am today. It was my hungry to learn and her determination that made us unstoppable.
I continued to struggle through this 1930’s essay that yes is still relevant. I hit record on my phone, thinking I might be tempted to share and exert of my reading, but that may be too scary. Online classes add to these fears and anxieties, it’s all textual and becomes a sea of letters and words that I am drowning in. I read through my fears. I can’t read this in my head because it bounces off like my brain is rubber.
Finally, I get through it, the notes were not taken and it took me about an hour and a half. I sat there the tears leaking out of my eyes as if I can finally release the sea I was just drowning in.
It was at this moment, I sent another message to my professors and asked about dropping a class. I felt like a total failure. I couldn’t do this. Two classes, children, and work. There is no way! It’s too much and the reading has me feeling like a failure. All I have ever wanted to do was write and make art, but maybe it wasn’t meant to be. These thoughts of the things my middle school teachers use to say to me were screaming, so loudly in my head. I felt so defeated in that moment. I hit send on my email and let the tears flow.
One of my professors had responded to a previous email. He reminded me of my accommodation and advised me to submit my documentation. I haven’t had to do this in years, but I will dig out paper work. He told me about PDF reader opinion “read out loud,” which I had to google. I pulled up the pdf of the textbook my other professor had sent me. The “read out loud”, was the lifeline I needed last night. It’s not ideal, but it worked!!
After I complete these sections. I was going to scan in the previous essay, then I realized that I had a theory book that was on audio, low and behold this fucking essay that took me nearly 90 mins to read, was on the audio text I have. I listened to this essay and took notes for another 20mins, it all made sense to me.
It was 2 AM by the time I finished. I sat with my 12 year old self. She reminded me of all the things I was afraid of and I reminded her of how far we have come. Together we cried not because it was over, but she is the only one that truly understands.