The word bed looks like a bed. See it written on paper and you can easily draw a stickman sleep on it. His head lies softly on the curve on the 'b' his feet resting on the roundness of the 'd.' Turn the 'd' or 'b' around and the stickman can longer sleep. Every time I am writing, this thought crosses my mind. It is how I know what direction I should place 'd' or 'b.' I learned this when I was eight. At that time I felt very much a part of my school class, unaware the sands were moving around me.
I could never learn my alphabet and to this day I have no idea about the times table. I did not realize the other children were learning and retaining this knowledge. I enjoyed going for the test, hearing test, IQ test, eye test were all time from school. It was a blessing I could not read the paper they produced diagnosing me as dyslexic, as it saved me from seeing the liberal use of the words backward and retarded. My parents now knew never to expect me to read and write.
By ten I was apart of remedial classes. I hated my handwriting and regretted the first mark made on the first white page of an exercise book. Once I touched it, it was ruined, soiled. In secondary school remedial classes were out of favor and I was part of a 30 plus class. A non-reading, non-writing member, silent and withdrew. It was a tangible fantasy to walk to school and see it burnt to the ground. Instead day in and day out it engulfed me. I walked close to the corridor walls wishing to disappear. For most part this wish came true as no one tried to know me or teach me. I never read an assigned book. I badly wrote essays if I wrote at all and I passed each year.
Once a week I saw a speech therapist at the hospital. She sat with me and I stammered my way through plastic covered large print stories. When she stopped seeing seeing me I began to see a woman who was dyslexic, she focused on teaching me everyday words to help me get by. I was not getting by. I was deeply in hate with myself. Living my days in dread, acutely aware of all that was wrong with me in every given moment. I saw being dyslexic as a fault line that ran through the very core of who I was. I dropped out of school, but you can not drop out of the world of reading and writing, or the view that it is dumb people who can not read or write. The weight of this was too much and my hand was paralysed each time I held a pen.
Behind closed doors I began to read, slowly, painfully, joyfully. Over the years the pent up fear of a large looming teacher making me read aloud to a staring smirking class began to fade and what was left was an evolving love of the written word.
It still took years for me to pick up a pen.
To be continued ….