I received an email this morning from a supervisor that the language in something I had written needed to be fixed. There was a lot riding on what I had written, and I had already tried cleaning up the piece the best I could without an editor because my funds had been really tight lately. I had my husband read through the paper and had run the piece through two grammar programs and still there were problems.
When I read that email, a host of shame washed through me. I am dyslexic, and this handicap has plagued me with this problem my entire life. People assume when they see my credentials and see what I have accomplished that I know how to string a sentence together. I don’t.
Over the years I have had people get downright hostile, angry, and rude with me over what I have written. Friends have told me that they understand their anger. They say people read some of my first drafts and the work is so rough and filled with so many mistakes that they resent that I have been published and they haven’t.
Others look down on me when they read a sentence that doesn’t quite make sense, and they know that I know better. I can often see those mistakes in others works and they don’t understand why I can’t in my own.
Truthfully, I don’t understand either and humiliation washes over me at the mention of my lack of ability to do grammar. Despite all this, I was somehow able to scrape through graduating at a prestigious university and then years later scrape through and earning an MFA in writing.
Many have asked me how it is possible I could get my degree in English no less and have these troubles. I have asked myself these questions. What I know and they don’t is the hundreds of hours I spend going to the writing lab and having student aid after student aid carefully go over my paper, over and over again, cleaning up those errors. I always wrote the papers a few months in advance because that way I could go to the writing lab five or six times to whip the paper in shape.
I’ve taken many grammar classes and try very hard not to glaze over when the discussion becomes so boring. I have to admit I am not very successful implementing the grammar into my writing, nor staying awake, but I do try.
My husband often laughs when I struggle over a word trying to spell it. He asks, “How did you spell it?” I show him and tears start coming down his face from him laughing so hard.
My children, even my seven-year-old, loves to hear how I mispronounce things. When they get bored, they will ask me to say a word I stumble on. Correct my pronunciation and then laugh and laugh.
I am a laughingstock. I have been this way my whole life. Most the time I just accept it as it is, but then I get the email from my supervisor, and I know my problem will hold me back from opportunities. I know I should be able to do what he asks and I also know that I can’t. At these moments, I feel deep embarrassment and shame, and wonder where I fit in this world.
I was wondering that when I climbed into my car to drive to a meeting. The radio blares and a song tells me. “You are not alone.” That is enough to know for now.