Rethinking My Internal Nemesis
How I am coming to terms with the impulsive part of my neurodivergence.
Until recently, I have always seen the impulse part of my ADHD as a burden—more like an Achilles heel. I could be sailing along in great relationships with my friends, really rocking the productivity at work, and just smashing it out of the park in my scheduling and time management. That is the moment when my impulsivity decides to drop in and say, “Hey!” This is where the problems occurred and also the root of the nemesis distinction.
Impulse always comes in, to f*ck sh*t up when I am really at my best, and producing. It’s like that relative who always comes over when you’ve cooked a good meal or when you’ve earned a big bonus. They come under the guise of helping, but the result is always damage, destruction, and derailment. All the food is gone and somehow half the bonus. Or so I thought.
Recently, I had a chance to revise my relationship with my nemesis, impulsivity. I met someone who wanted to hire me to write for their website. We talked via email. and somehow it led to texting. Pretty soon, not a lot was being said about the project. Then, one day, after a text that had nothing to do with writing for this person’s site, I said, “I just got another big project so I won’t be able to work on your project.”
No thoughts or decisions preceded this text reply. It just happened before I realized it. That’s how impulsivity works. Well, this person grew angry and I ended up having to block them. Turns out, the emails and texts were never about a gig. My nemesis saved me the headache of further dealing with this person.
That’s when I realize that I only dwell on the negative impulses that come with my neurodivergence. However, there are several times that impulsivity has saved me from otherwise negative outcomes. I went as far back as my teens years.
One evening, a friend from school rolled up in a car full of people I didn’t know. They were also the type of people I would never go around. I was a book nerd and A-student. This friend was also one of those people I hung out with at school but we never spoke once off the bus. This is despite living super close. She lived fast and hard for a 14-year-old. I could not.
That day, my parental figure was preoccupied with his own nonsense, and my mother was gone. Usually, my mother never let me go anywhere, so I never had to make a decision about going or staying. On this day, my available parental said, “Do whatever. I don’t care. Just be back before ya mama gets home.” Not the words I wanted to hear.
The friend was outside waiting with her carload of people. I grabbed my bag and went out to the car. This was a rare chance to break free of home. But I now remember feeling some apprehension. I didn’t recognize it then. I stared down the driveway at the open door and it was like walking into a dark unknown. I was going to get into the car and I did get in. But just as I was pulling the door closed, my nemesis took over my body.
The next thing I knew, My arm and hand were working the door back open. My body swiveled around and my legs got up out of the car. Before I could stop myself, the words, “I better stay here. My mom is about to be home and she won’t like this.”
I had the reputation of having the strictest mom in the school. So, the friend did not question me. She simply nodded and her buddy drove away. Meanwhile, I was standing there wondering what the hell had just come over me. That was one of the first times that my impulsivity acted with my intuition to remove me from a potentially unsafe situation. They wrecked the car that evening. No one was hurt, but the accident was something my mother would have freaked out about. I would have freaked out!
Back to the present day, I realize that my nemesis may actually be just an eccentric protector. Sometimes it may blow my world up, but most of the time, those explosions are meant to keep me from something that would cause even greater harm. Not always physical. Sis is there trying to save me from turning down the wrong opportunities for me and from stepping into situations that may end the whole game for me. Or things that may cause some serious harm.
That potentially new client seemed a bit predatory now that I looked back. My nemesis was working to extract me from their orbit as quickly as possible. My “gut” feeling seemed to have sensed this when my conscious brain was focused on getting through the awkward and borderline inappropriate interaction. My brain is so multifaceted and always amazing me.
I recently found an example on TV. Have you seen The Wilds on Prime? It’s about a group of girls who are rescued from a deserted island. They are recounting the details of their stay on the island with a shady doctor (played by Rachel Griffiths).
One of the girls is a bipolar teen named Leah who keeps jumping to conclusions, letting her impulses and paranoia run wild. Leah figures out what is going down before anyone else. That’s because her inner nemesis initiates a series of awkward events that alienate her from the group. In doing so, she is set up to make a discovery that no one else would ever see.
Season 2 of The Wilds premieres on May 6th.
In the end, my nemesis may just be the best friend I ever had. I may not like all her moves, but I understand them now. Check-in with your impulsivity. Can you say the same?