It was a sign on my grandparents’ living room wall, just above the TV. “The Faster I Go, the Behinder I Get.” I’m sure it was supposed to be funny. Didn’t really understand it until I grew up.

Guess what? After years of trying to go faster and faster and faster I realize that I’m never going to catch up. I’m living into my grandparents’ motto. I truly am getting “behinder.” And I hate that feeling. Failure. A kind of droopy, heaviness that sags and drags me down.

I am doing stuff; a lot of it. I even finish (a few) things. I work and work and work. But there’s still so much more to do. I don’t know. Is it just me? I talked to my psychiatrist the other day and she said that I’m most driven person she’s ever met. Wow. She sees a lot of people. Not sure it’s a good thing – to be driven. But I’m not driven to excel (well, OK, sometimes I am). Mostly though, I am driven because I’m trying to catch up. I’m driven to be normal.

That’s mostly what ADHD frustration is all about. It shouldn’t be. We don’t need to spend our lives trying to pull up even with the caboose of the train all the neurotypicals have already boarded. We deserve to live our lives at a measured pace, yes, even in this frantic hurry-up world.

I need to take what she said to heart. I need to stop operating out of guilt. There, I said it. Even though I know all the aphorisms: “Don’t should on yourself.” “You are a human being not a human doing.” I am a guilt machine.

Parroting the hackneyed phrases does not mean I adopt them into my life. Actually, it’s just another piece of guilt glommed onto my psyche. “I should not should on myself!” Ack! The wisdom is held intellectually but not experientially. It just does not sink in.

Until now. After decades of faster, faster, faster my heart – yes my actual physical heart – is having a little trouble keeping up. I have stressed so much over so many things that it’s not pumping blood very effectively. Which makes my heart try to catch up (do you see a pattern here?) by beating two beats in a row. Feels like it skips a beat. The official name is premature ventricular contraction or PVC. Everybody has them. I just have a boatload of them. Enough to treat, apparently. And that might make the rest of my heart get it together, in normal sinus rhythm as they say in cardiology circles.

The other thing my psychiatrist said was “What are you going to eliminate from your busy schedule?” I had a hard time envisioning cutting out projects or webinars or planting or dog agility or-or-or. But clearly something has to go so I can slow down enough to actually live my life instead of being pushed around by the have-to list and the guilt over not doing all the items on it.

I need to start slow. Ripping the BandAid® off this lifelong habit would be too extreme.  I’ll start eliminating a little at a time. It won’t be easy – although I have ripped a couple of major BandAids off already and it scare the heck out of me. But I’m going to keep at it. My heart deserves it. I deserve it.

BTW, so do you in your ADHD life. I invite you to try letting go of some of the guilt, some of the time-eaters that give no satisfaction, some of the “I have to finish this before I can do that” naggers. If any of this resonates with you, join me. And let me know how it goes in the comments below.

PS. What I also realized is that my grandparents’ sign was a paraphrase from The White Rabbit who said “The hurrier I go the behinder I get” throughout Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Oh, and it probably means my grandparents had ADHD brains. That sign is pretty strong evidence! ADHD must be genetic.