You know how, you notice something, once, and then suddenly it seems like it’s everywhere? I’ve been having that the last ten days or so. Generally, it’s jokes. A deliberate spelling mistake or trans positional error, and then the punchline…. ‘AHAHAHAH…. Dyslexia.’
Lighten up. It’s just a joke. Bloody hell, why are you being so precious about it? Well, it’s likely I’m about to get The Rage about this. Because Alistair is dyslexic. Not mildly, not moderately, but severely dyslexic. And I do mean severely. He’s known from a very early age that he is, and it pretty much closed off school for him. It’s not like it is now, where a diagnosis will afford you access to specialised help, support, learning aids etc. he was told he was dyslexic aaaaand… that was it. No further action taken. Left to flounder. Struggles ignored. Put in a box. A box marked ‘THICK’.
So that’s how he thinks of himself. Thick. Not dyslexic. Thick. It doesn’t matter all the things he can do, all the skills, talents, and generally all round glittery unicorn pube qualities he has. As far as he’s concerned, he is THICK. And if you think of yourself in that way, then of course, you don’t have much confidence, it affects pretty much every relationship you have, and how you see the world. And that’s where Houston, we have a problem.
Because I do words. I read, write, revel in words. Words are my first, my last, my everything (not really, but that sounds quite good, so don’t pick me up on that). And it’s quite hard on both of us that a wordjunky and a dyslexic happen to be together. It’s hard on me, because as far as he’s concerned, writing is Not Important. He doesn’t read anything that I write. No matter how well things are going, what comments & praise I get, I never talk to him about it, because, in his own words, he ‘doesn’t give a fucking fuck about [my] writing’. In the same way that I don’t understand his ability to design and build a hot tub, he just doesn’t get writing, and the power of it. So, if I say to him ‘I was talking to X about writing last night…’ he shrugs, looks bored, and mentally checks out. And that makes me feel like shit.
And from his point of view, he feels like shit too. Because he thinks he’s thick. He thinks that the box he was put in from an early age means that so many worlds are closed to him. In fifteen years together, he’s read perhaps three books. It was genuinely painful for me to watch, seeing him struggle, mouthing the words, finger on the page to try and stop the words from dancing around, trying to concentrate on reading the word that’s actually there on the page, not allowing his brain to mangle it into something else entirely. Having to go back and read a page he’s already spent fifteen minutes on because he misread something. Asking me to read aloud some pages, because he found it easier to listen.
And it reinforces his belief that he’s thick. Because he struggles with it so much. I help where I can, but he doesn’t want to even try, because it makes him feel worse. We had a meal out the other day with The Blondies, and after five minutes hard staring at the menu, he handed it to The Girl, saying ‘Come on then, read out the menu to me, I’ve heard from Mummy that your reading is phenomenal now!’ I’d just like you to consider that for a moment.
I’d like you to think how it must feel. He’s 34. He has a job. He has a family. And he has to ask his six year old daughter to read a menu to him. Because he can’t. And it reminds him that he is THICK.
Oh, but, of course. AHAHAHAHAH…. Dyslexia.