You probably wouldn’t take me for someone who gets hurt easily

When: January 17 , 2022 | Where: Palmdale, California
Miles Cycled: 382 | Days on the Road: 28

***Writing this on my second night in Palmdale, after summiting the highest climb (3,237 feet) I’m likely to see on this side of the Mississippi.***

I’m probably the biggest guy you’ve ever seen on a bike.  I’m without a doubt the slowest guy on the road (at least I haven’t passed anyone yet). I am very likely the most sincere and genuine person you will ever meet. I’m kind and compassionate.

I’m smarter than most.  But, I often get out of the shower, having forgotten to rinse the soap off.   ADHD often makes me scattered.  I can be talking to someone, start a sentence, veer into a series of tangents, and find myself still talking several minutes later, completely unaware of what my point was. I think the people who know me well think it’s endearing.

My sense of empathy is sometimes a burden; sometimes I feel what others feel so strongly it hurts. 

I’m a pleaser, and seek approval.  I wouldn’t have really believed that about myself prior to getting sober.  Or even for some lengthy period of time after that. I remember coming to the realization around Thanksgiving of 2020, and still taking a couple of months to actually believe it.  I saw a meme recently that said,

“A child who can sense that they’re not living up to their parents’ expectations becomes the adult who betrays themselves for validation.”

Reading it, I felt like I got hit in the solar plexus. It seemed to explain too much about me.

I’m big (as noted), and I have a booming voice.  You probably wouldn’t take me for someone who gets hurt easily, but I am.  I got hurt deeply before I left.  That’s too big a topic for this post. Suffice that it’s made me question my most deeply-held beliefs and principles.

By the time I left, my voyage of physical health and self-discovery had become as much about escaping and forgetting. I left 5 days before Christmas, because the idea of Christmas… the idea of celebrating anything felt like a giant and cruel practical joke to me.  I wanted no part of it.

Rejection hypersensitivity is a common trait among those with ADHD. The first time I read that, I burst into tears.  For the truth of it, and for the myriad ways rejection has seemed to seek me out over the course of my life, from the extreme bullying I endured in elementary school and my parents’ apathy about it, to the machinations my father’s fifth wife went through to exclude me from his funeral.

My Ramble is not a feel-good story right now. Maybe it will become one, but I’ve always sought what’s real, and that’s what I’ll strive to give you as this progresses 

At the moment, I’m taking refuge in the business of undertaking this excursion. The actual cycling and the logistics of being on the road and navigating across a continent have added up to a lot of work. After managing that, creating “Lemuel’s Ramble,” and trying to build it into something worthwhile has taken up what time remains.

I will say that my state of mind has generally improved over the past 4 weeks of cycling.  I was feeling thoroughly alienated from most things when I rolled out of my driveway alone.  Much of that has worn away as I’ve used some of my time to reconnect with friends, and to make new connections

My physical strength has improved a lot, and with accomplishment… even accomplishment that’s still largely unshared… has come some positive energy. 

A friend asked if there had been any moments where I wanted to quit, or felt like this was crazy.  Oddly, that sounded like a foreign concept to me. 

When I left, there wasn’t much for me at all at home.  I felt compelled to be gone from there, and to get on with the business of this quest as soon as was possible.  Nobody would confuse me with Tony Robbins at this point, but I can say that I’m exactly where I want and need to be. The idea of going “home” sounds terrible.

I picked you up every time you were broken

You’ve talked often about how your personal childhood trauma of abandonment has driven your worst instincts.

Ostracism is a very real and close cousin of abandonment. A childhood spent exiled to the periphery. That kid who walks alone out by the fence, and glances up carefully to see what the other kids are doing, but not long enough to be seen looking; terrified of the repercussions of being seen looking.

Years of therapy haven’t erased your abandonment issues. Years without therapy have certainly not erased my issues with being discarded. Thrown away. Cast aside. Unwanted. Unloved. Unacceptable.

I can never adequately convey what it’s like living inside a head with ADHD. What I can tell you is that the voice never shuts up. The thinking never stops. Every horrible thought is repeated over and over and over and over again, and I just want it to stop. All day. Every time I wake up at night.

There were a few times in school when someone pretended to want to be my friend. Those were the most painful. I would get sucked in. I’d believe in it. When the inevitable reveal, with its ridicule and derision, came… it was an abyss.

This feels like that (which isn’t to say anything about you or your intentions, but only about its effect on me). For two and a half years, I was told I belonged. I mattered. I was important. I was needed. I was loved.

And, this reveal is unfuckingbearable. I just want it all to stop, and my ADHD impulses push me to seemingly obvious answers…

anger… you’ve been wronged… lash out…

indifference… you don’t need her… show her… shut her out… see how SHE likes it…

stoicism… distraction… kindness…

But, it’s like solving Pi. My brain spins endlessly, and every decimal place is another empty hallway leading to more empty hallways, and none of them bring any peace; only more emptiness.

I’m going to come over and give you your pillow. I hope you’ll see me. Talk to me. Look me in the eyes. You asked the same of me many times, from similarly awful places. I don’t believe I ever said no, even though it meant driving long distances and deprioritizing myself. I’m almost positive I never said no.

Our relationship was broken. I thought our friendship was enduring. This shouldn’t be my trauma. I was a good friend. I was always there. I picked you up every time you were broken. This should be somebody else’s trauma. I’m in the wrong life. Someone else’s timeline. None of this is right.