I’m Coming Out

I still hear it. From my childhood. Mom’s voice, with its thick German accent, saying with anger and frustration, “Vy are you zo impatient?”

I didn’t have an answer. I just thought, “I’m not impatient. I just think and observe faster than you. That’s who I am. What are you getting so upset for?” Mom, of course, didn’t have an answer either, nor did she seek out one. And, in hindsight, it was her responsibility to look into it if she really cared. But that would have involved spending money, something she avoided with fervor, and it would have been an inconvenience to her. It would be easier to attack, belittle, and make me feel bad for being myself. That was her style.

But, lo these many years later, I have figured out why I appeared to be impatient. There was an underlying cause that, until recently, I had never considered. It impacted my behavior and countless decisions and choices I made throughout my life without my realizing it was there. I had, for decades, attributed my personality, habits, and way of seeing the world to several dominant factors. But this epiphany meant I would have to include a new one, one that, perhaps, played a larger role than I ever realized.

I had thought Tom Nussbaum was the complex individual he is primarily due to genetics, the result of Mom and Dad’s combined gene pools. That was the “nature” part of who I am. I also understood I was the product of the environment, the psychological environment my mother created around me. That would be the “nurture” component. Dad, of course, played a role in creating that environment, but Mom controlled it. Those who know me, can verify that I have chronicled that in writing and orally my entire life.

My mother’s influence in forming my psyche was greatly the result of her questionable child-raising skills, which were more slash-and-burn than unconditional love, her contradictory insecurity and lack of self-esteem and self-centered, self-involved manner of interpreting everything around her, and her quirky way of viewing the world, which included her obsession with the zodiac.

I probably was introduced to her fixation with birthdays before I knew my address, phone number, or middle name. Mom hired handymen based on their zodiac sign. She informed doctors they were in the wrong profession based on their zodiac sign. She told newly-weds they shouldn’t have married based on their “incompatible” zodiac signs. And she reminded me constantly that I am a Taurus.

As a result, I attributed my positive qualities to my zodiac sign. Conversely, I blamed my Taurean nature for my problematic traits, shortcomings in life, and difficulties. For example, I thought the impatience mentioned earlier was the by-product of a Taurus mind. Taurus is an earth sign, allegedly practical and logical. Therefore, I thought I simply didn’t want to waste time on something in which I was no longer interested. But I now realize that something else contributed to the making of me, something that accompanied the genetic, psychological, and astrological contributors to my personality. Something else may have been responsible for my impatience.

I believe I have had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, with the focus on the AD part, all my life. I just didn’t recognize it and no one told me. Elementary school teachers probably saw my quirks, but didn’t have the language in the 1950s with which to alert my parents. They did include comments on my report cards like, “talks out of turn,” “disturbs his neighbors,” and “doesn’t stay focused on his work.” But elementary schools didn’t have psychologists then and teachers didn’t understand the variety and complexities of special needs.

In fairness to those with more serious cases, I probably only have, what I call, ADHD-Lite. And I likely have Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder, too. But, again, it probably is OCD-Lite. In both cases, I expect I would be diagnosed a borderline case.

I would share more about my discovery, citing countless examples of ADHD and OCD throughout my life, patterns in my behavior that may have been evident to others as well as those hidden from public view, and choices I made that were influenced by my ADHD without my realizing it, but I won’t. I’m already bored talking about this, my coming out of the ADHD closet. I got to move on.

Maybe I’ll research online the Autism/Asperger Spectrum and see if or where I belong on it. I hope I get a full understanding in 10-15 minutes. Before I get bored. Yeah. Fifteen minutes. Tops.

3 thoughts on “I’m Coming Out

  1. I understand completely.
    Words to describe me in a classroom between 1954-1966:
    Disruptive, overly talkative, distracted, bored, daydreaming and antsy.
    I found out why from a psychologist in 2017.
    Both ADHD AND OCD.
    It all made sense!


    1. I wonder how many of our pre-special education classmates had learning disabilities or personality disorders that impacted learning. The Spec Ed laws did not take place until 1975. You and I perhaps could have benefitted from being given strategies on how to focus or keep thoughts in our heads. When I went to the UW, I had a helluva time with all the reading. I just couldn’t concentrate on and understand the complex stuff. It hadn’t been a problem at QA or if it had been it was mild. I always claimed my mediocre college grades were because I had no plans to go to grad school. But, I realize now, attention deficit made my college years harder than they needed be. And I was in a fraternity that prided itself on being one of the Top 3 academically. Oy, the pressure to perform! “Hey,” I’d say, “I’m not going to grad school, law school, or med school when I graduate. I’m going to a gay bar!” To this day, although I write, I do not read much, which surprises people.


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