This is my story. A brutal truth, unknowingly living with dyslexia in 1992.
High school is a lonely and unkind place for a student struggling with a learning disability that no one talks about. Anger is an emotional easily sparked.
“What is wrong with you?” Her question alone was heart-wrenching but the tone nearly earned her a slap.
The lines being read aloud were slow and careful. The unbearable silence that followed her intrusive question made me tremble.
A group of us had gathered in the only classroom with a carpeted area and fabric covered furniture. I had just landed a speaking role in the high school play and we were meeting to do a run through. Clueless to what that meant, I hadn’t known to be nervous. I was still humming from the excitement of being a cast member. This was a really big deal for me. There were many exceptionally talented kids at my school. The auditions had been a testament to that. Beautiful voices, amazing dancing, and unbelievable acting commanded the stage and I had not felt worthy to claim a spot.
There I was, with the script in my hand, sitting among the best and brightest. I was in awe. Then the reading began.
Cue the panic.
The lead male role was awarded to a very popular, charming and ridiculously hot senior who was a triple threat. In fact, he still is.
When he read, my heart swelled as I listened in amazement. No one seemed uncomfortable or worried about reading their lines. I, on the other hand, was fearful of peeing my pants. Luckily, I only had two lines, one in each act. There was plenty of time for me to find them and burn them to memory before my character was introduced.
The star of the show was speaking very slowly and carefully. This affected me deeply. I was thrilled that he read like me, except without any of my visible anxiety. So, when the girl beside me interrupted him with her outrageously rude question, I am sure I bared my teeth.
“What is wrong with you?” Her wrinkled nose and furrowed brow froze on the last word.
A long, dreadfully awkward moment passed and something in side me fractured for him. He looked to her and then passed his gaze over all of us.
He said this evenly; simply. There was no apology. It was a fact that he shared in a way that made it her problem, not his.
The breath I released once he returned to his lines was one that I had been holding my entire life. I was amazed by him and this revelation of not being alone was truly freeing. A bubble of glee made me grin when the ignorant girl beside me raised her script to conceal her blazing cheeks. It was a beautiful thing.
Even to this day, he has no idea how the delivery of those two words changed my life. Before then I had never heard of dyslexia nor had I known anyone to openly admit to something so hushed with such confidence and conviction. He is unaware of the impact that he had on me that day. And I wish I could say that I was no longer afraid, but that would be a lie. Just learning that others struggle and prevail with dyslexia was immensely inspiring.
For that, I will continue to write.
I am a dyslexic writer and this is my brutal truth.