It’s been gnawing at my craw a bit lately, this thing that people seem to be doing more and more often. It’s judging. I see the painful results of harsh judgments, and it’s not a pretty sight to see someone ripped up and spit out like that.
The last person I saw on Friday was a woman that I’ll call Jan. She’s about as real a person as they come, and quite bubbly for someone in her late 30’s. She’s a single mom, fighting one hell of an uphill battle. You see, Jan is severely dyslexic, which has meant a lifetime of misdiagnoses and misunderstanding.
Instead of learning coping skills, she learned to be anxious and nervous. She fears the parts she doesn’t understand and becomes so flustered when she thinks she doesn’t understand that her mind takes off in a whirlwind. Then, she’ll call herself stupid and idiotic and dumb and apologizes profusely for her anxiety. She is far from stupid, something I remind her of every time I see her.
Bits and pieces of her life come out now and then. Jan was thought to be so mentally retarded that her mother was strongly advised to commit her to a mental institution for life. They said she would never learn anything and become very difficult to handle as she grew older. Her mother didn’t believe them, but attending public school wasn’t much of a success.
Until, that is, someone figured out that she was dyslexic, not retarded. Jan now carries around a piece of pink plastic that she places over text to read. That helps a little, but it is still very difficult for her to decipher more than a few words at a time. She has problems anchoring herself in time, but she can add a list of numbers in her head faster than I can come up with a sum on a calculator.
Jan knows one thing for certain: She cares for the elderly and she’s good at what she does. “I have a heart for it,” she said, and there was no shaking her belief in that at all. For once in her life, she is not judged as she does her job because it’s obvious that she’s right. She is good at it.
Jan managed to build a solid set of morals and values, despite her anxiety and the heavy load of what so many cruelly told her she was – or wasn’t – able to do, and through it all, she came out the other end. I admire her for that.
But, why do that to another person? Why be so harsh and unfeeling and damaging? Why not help instead of judge and hate and pity? Is there any good reason not to help?
One day, Jan will come out from behind her wall of fear. I can only hope that when she does, she isn’t slammed back into it by heartless people.