I began my life as an undercover ADDiva with my first tube of Maybelline mascara that I bought with furtively saved allowance, away from the disapproving eye of my mother (whom I later tutored in the fine art of not poking out an eye when applying the jet black lash builder). At the time, I thought I was merely transitioning to adulthood. But it was more than that.
A thin veneer of foundation, blusher, eyeliner and Bonne Belle lip gloss became my mask of normalcy.If I would wear makeup every day, style my hair and wear clothes that fit in with everyone else, maybe they wouldn’t notice I was different. Very different.
About the same time, I developed an internal Monitor who tried valiantly to keep my secret by berating me constantly. “Don’t talk too loud!” “Oh no, she must be mad at you. Be extra nice to her!” “Don’t talk too much!” “Don’t raise your hand too often!” “They’re laughing – probably at you. What did you do wrong, now?” I watched how “normal” people acted, what they ate, what they wore, what classes they took, what colleges they applied to.
Gradually, I trained myself to make choices that were pretty darned close to normal. Problem was that I thought I was special. No, I KNEW I was special – in a good way. My deepest dream was to let myself out of the “normal” box and be celebrated for being the Real Linda. I wanted to stop reining myself in and dance like there was no tomorrow. I wanted people to look past the masks, see the truth about Linda, and love her for it.
I flirted with “coming out” several times, but quickly retreated. The reaction was so negative when I let myself be me, I decided it was better to stay safe. At least people didn’t run away from the Memorex Linda.
It was at a four week training program that I finally realized how deeply the mask had permeated my soul. I needed some milk for the cereal I was eating in my room, so made a quick dash to the breakfast buffet – sans makeup. I hurried as quickly as I could, avoiding eye contact. But an acquaintance spotted me … and said hello. I was shocked. I honestly thought no one would recognize me without my makeup. Even worse, I realized that I actually thought I was invisible without mascara and blush. The sobering knowledge seeped through me for days.
Something had to change. I took small steps toward unveiling the Real Me. I spent a week at the beach with women friends and tried not wearing makeup. I tested the waters with my husband – Will you be seen with me even without my makeup? Of course, he said. I went to the grocery store barefaced, then to a fancy restaurant.
Strangely, as the literal makeup fell by the wayside, so did my internal Monitor. I let my ADD out of the closet – laughing instead of crying when it took five trips back to the house before I actually drove out the driveway. I stopped working so hard to remember tiny details, and didn’t feel foolish when they escaped me. I let my hair go curly and my tummy pooch out a bit with only mild cringing.
In short, I began to embrace the me that I am, the woman I was born to be. And that tube of Maybelline? Long gone. Just like Memorex Linda. Celebrating my ADD has become a far more powerful part of me than those masks ever were. I am comfortable in my own skin, in my own life. It feels good to be me. And I still know I’m special. In a good way. A very good way.