Hiding in Plain Sight

I think I do pretty well, most of the time, as a severely dyslexic adult hiding in plain sight without the paperwork that could get me accommodations. (I’m not sure I would get them even with it, to be sure, but it’d be there.) I look out for myself and try, from my own position of relative privilege, to advocate for others, which also doesn’t always work out. I know myself and my limits, and, for the most part, I’m pretty good at managing.

That “for the most part” is my key phrase, of course. I managed pretty well in college, although it took me longer to get through than it takes most. (I also graduated with a 4.0 back when there was nothing higher than a 4.0, so there’s that.) I made it through my graduate work with my lowest grades A-minuses, which I hated, but hell’s bells: I made it. I made it, without accommodations, without sleep, unknown and unseen even in a group. I made it. I thought I might lose my ability to read—and to comprehend—while I was finishing up my Master’s in Spanish, but I didn’t, and I made it through my exams, and I got that degree. (I’m prouder of it than you can probably imagine, too.)

In a way, my first Master’s was almost easier than my second. Don’t get me wrong: I was never afraid, during library school, that I’d lose my ability to read, or to understand what I was reading. (I thought that was a very real possibility when I was reading 800 pages a day for my exams, but, I mean, I passed!) Library school was alienating on a level I don’t think I had ever yet encountered, a pretty consistent reminder that I was wrong, and, most likely, broken. I already was pretty sure my body was broken—so, believe me, I didn’t need to hear that I was, too. I guess I thought that working would be, you know, better. As long as I stayed within the confines of what I know I can do, and do well, I’d be fine, right?

I was—obvs, I guess—wrong. I mean, I’m doing pretty well; I don’t think most people have any idea what’s wrong. But I sure do. It’s like an ache: I’m hiding in front of you, even as I turn around everything I try to type. I’m hiding here, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to keep it up, and I’m scared to death. What happens when I can’t do it any longer? I mean, do I even have to worry about that? I really have no clue. I’ve never been in quite this position before. (It’s my first full-time job! Is that why my brain’s going loopy?) Is this the point at which I finally go for testing (again) to see if I can get accommodations? It’s not really something I want to do: it’s a hell of a lot of money, and, in this space of screaming into the void, I’ll be honest: I compensate pretty damn well, most of the time. What if I’ve hidden my self away so completely that it is not even seen?

At first, I assumed that I was bollocksing up my words because I was tired, or stressed, or something. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case—or, at any rate, not the tired part, since I’m not tired all the time, just a lot of it. (Stress is pretty much my daily companion: I’m a high-stress kind of girl.) It is, however, excruciatingly stressful to continually twist letters and words, especially on a big screen during an information literacy session, or while I’m working one on one with a patron. I’ve almost blurted out to more than one patient student, I’m so sorry! It’s just that I’m dyslexic, please bear with me! but I stop myself just in time. They’re awfully kind (thus far), my students—but I can’t do that to them. And, let’s face it: some of them have probably already figured it out.

Whatever it is, whether my issue is simply that my old friend dyslexia is old and unpredictable (and a total dick, let’s face it), or that I’m under more stress than I might realize, or simply that I’m severely dyslexic and will never really be able to tuck it away, well, it’s there. It’s worse than it’s been in years. It flavors every word I write and every character I forge. It sends me to hide in genre fiction, filled with people with chronic pain and learning disabilities and font that’s big enough to actually read. It reminds me to pick and choose my words with great care, so I can better advocate for others and so I can, in a pinch, hide myself. I am still rather bad at accommodating myself, and still good at advocating for others—and, for all I know, this is really about my need to advocate for myself, which is not really a thing I know how to do.

And I guess that’s the long and short of it: As strange as the thing I know not, this riddle of my strange and tangled brain, this world I have not yet entirely learned how to manage. It were as possible for me to say that I know not. I really have no clue what’s going on, or quite how to manage my eager and strange brain as it misfires into my fingers. I know how to put together your search string, I really do—but by God, I can’t type it out. As I go along, into this new world, I’ll figure out how to manage—but, somehow, I have the feeling that it’ll come with a great deal more strange dyslexic errors than I had thought. Who would I be if it didn’t? Certainly not me.