of the "reasons for my rage" when first learning to deal with
my TS was what I call the "why me" phenomenon. What
had I done to deserve these problems? I felt that I was a good
person, dammit, but every time I tried to show it, I seemed to screw
up. If I didn't have Tourette's, I told myself, I would
have so much more, and getting it would be so much easier. Girls
would like me, I would be cool, I wouldn't fight so much with my
family. For awhile I lived with a fellow who seemed to be the
spitting image of me, except WITHOUT the TS. HE had a girlfriend,
HE had a great life. That he seemed to take these things for granted
only infuriated me further - he didn't even seem to know how lucky
he had it! Normalcy is wasted on the normal, I concluded, and
stewed in my anger.
As I learned to like myself and accept my TS as part of me, I also began
to learn that I could have all of the things that I wanted regardless
of my disorder. I learned that while people will inevitably see
and react to the TS, I have the power to control their perceptions of
it, and me. Until now I had thought that I had resolved all of
my "why me" issues, and was busy patting myself on my back
for my accomplishment. Until now.
When my present girlfriend and I got together, I was shocked to find
those old feelings of resentment welling within me again. It had
never occurred to me before now that I could harbour any resentment
towards one of "my own" - aren't we supposed to be in
this together, both in partnership and in neurobiology?? I guess
I wasn't as far down the path to enlightenment as I had so foolishly
She was identified with TS early in life, relative to myself.
She had enormously supportive and proactive parents (her mother is currently
the President of the TSFC). I found that my anger was not at HER, but
at what she represented to me: the things I felt I should have had.
Relatively speaking, she grew up in lots of good times, feeling that
she was understood, loved and accepted. That foundation enabled
her to date with ease, and helped her to develop into the warm, trusting,
individual she is. Compared to her, I am a hardened, bitter soul
with road yet to travel.
What eventually became clear to me though is that I was setting myself
up. I had assumed that she had all of my good qualities, PLUS
these extra things, thus putting her higher than me. I used to
do this sort of thing all the time with people at school - rather than
comparing myself to the whole person, matching us each quality by quality,
I would ONLY compare myself on qualities that I hated about myself.
I would also ONLY pick people who were the very best examples of that
quality to compare myself to. For example, if I was crummy at
sports (and I was!), I would pick the school's biggest jock to hold
myself up against. And I would be so busy kicking myself for not
being the amazing athlete he was that I would not notice the things
that I was better at than him, like schoolwork or drumming.
Once I realized that I was doing this again, I began to see that through
my background, I have developed valuable skills and qualities that she
does not have just as she has developed qualities that I lack.
It helped me for the first time to really recognize that some of the
tough stuff I went through I should really value, because it made me
the successful person that I am now. In being forced into autonomy,
in needing to rely on myself to learn about my disorder, and how to
effectively deal with it, and through other challenges I have grown
strong, smart, and deeply motivated. I owe her a great debt of
gratitude for this.
It was a lesson in treasuring one's experiences, good and bad.
They all help you to learn and grow. She is not better than I
am, and I am not better than she is. Whether one, both, or neither
partners in a relationship has TS, each brings to the relationship different
and equally valuable gifts, borne of their upbringing. Over time
she will help me to trust again, and to dismantle my walls. I
will help her to recognize, face and deal with her disorder more.
Together we will grow, and we will both be stronger for ALL of our experiences
Until next time, my friends!