I am successful in my career, I live in a great house, I am able to buy a lot of great fashion to wear (my favorite thing to do), and I own a horse that I enjoy so much. These are things I’ve always wanted, but what I wanted most was to be able to be myself freely in the midst of others. That I can now do! I have deep and meaningful interactions with people from all walks of life every day. I am simply inspired and fulfilled while seeing so much work that needs to be done to inspire others. It’s exciting to have so many wonderful people to do it with! I could tell you about many transformations I’ve had as a People Unlimited member. One of the transformations was experiencing a deeper connection with my intimate partner, Otto, “after our romance was over”. Or I could tell you about overcoming the obsession with relationships in general. All of those would be great transformations to talk about, but I want to tell about my life after dyslexia.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia in 4th grade at the age of 9 in 1970 in Germany where I was raised. I had never heard of it. No-one in my school had ever had dyslexia and it was just a diagnosis that no-one seemed to be able to do anything with. A dyslexia counselor helped me to no longer transpose letters and numbers, but it really didn’t help me address my core issue.
In school I was only able to pay attention for 10 minutes at the beginning of each class before my mind would wander off to daydreams. No matter how hard I concentrated and wanted to pay attention, my mind would wander. The truth was, the harder I tried, the further I got away from what I really wanted; which was to understand what my teachers were saying, to understand the questions in my tests and to be able to know the answers when a teacher called on me.
I had been an outspoken kid playing with the neighborhood kids all afternoon long having fun. But I began to be a quiet person. I would go out with my friends and say one sentence all afternoon. The rest of the time I was listening to their conversations trying to figure out what the right thing to say would be – and never finding it.
Now my life is the opposite. I can talk non-stop and it’s easy for me. It just flows out of me. It’s never the “right thing” to say, it’s just me being me. And the greatest thing is, people love me for it, because they can feel me. To make the jump from not even knowing what I feel, to now having direct access to my feelings has been great. It has even been greater that I can now also speak and act on my feelings without being self-conscious. It has been much more than a dream come true.
I know now that trying to be ‘right’ is what got me in trouble from the beginning. When I started to wanting to be ‘right’– right at school, right for my friends, right at home – that’s when I began to feel isolated. I know that without Bernie and Jim insisting on me being real all the time, life would still be a constant struggle to be right.
I’m been so thankful to Bernie and Jim and People Unlimited for creating an environment that helps people radically come out with who they are. It has been my number one answer, not just for dyslexia, but for everything.