A Physical Dimension to Interruptions

Another interruption!

I was in the middle of writing some HTML/Javascript code for Lisa’s Christmas website when the phone rang. I answered and did my best to be polite and pay attention but I was aware the whole time that my mind was in a fog. I’m not going to say who it was or what they wanted because that is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that this is the first time I’ve really paid attention to what was going on with me physically.

Some background: for a long time, I’ve been explosively angry when I was interrupted in the middle of something. I’ve done a pretty good job of  not just yelling into the phone, but I’ve done all sorts of other things:

  • after hanging up, I would sit and stare at the phone, waiting for the next interruption
  • I would not go back to what I was doing, I would just sit back and cross my arms and stare. What was the point of starting up when I was just going to get interrupted again?
  • at least once, I’ve thrown the phone (gently – I’m too aware of price to lose control completely) across the room and talked to it in very harsh terms

I’m aware that this is not uncommon among us ADD folks – at various intensities, of course. But today was the first time I really noticed the physical sensation.

It isn’t anger at all. It’s more like disorientation.

I was in a state of flow and I was yanked out of it. And I’m keenly aware that when I get started back up again, it won’t be “where I left off”, it’s going to be “part 2”. And that is never the same.

It was an actual physical sensation. A slight bit of dizziness, like walking out into the sun after being in the dark for a while. Or sitting up after laying down too long. I felt it in my head and I felt it in my stomach. It was unpleasant. I can see why I don’t want to experience that feeling often. I can also see why it makes me angry. But anger is a secondary response not a primary response.

Downstream, there are other considerations:

  • the ramp up time to get started again
  • things that might have been percolating in the back of my mind that are now lost
  • the pressure to handle whatever the call was about

And, on top of those, the guilt about feeling angry at the poor innocent person who had the nerve to interrupt me while I was working on something

There are a lot of levels to this, but I’m hoping that the realization that it isn’t really anger will help me handle it next time around.

I wonder how soon that will be…?

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Last Comments from Orlando ADDA Conference

(the following has been sitting in a file on my iPad since July, sometimes they get posted out of order…)

I’m sitting in the Brick House Tavern and Tap House in Orlando, decompressing. I have a 22 oz Cigar City Jai Alai IPA, imported from Tampa. I recommend it if you like a nice, solid IPA. It’s just after 7p.m.

As expected, the week was intense. I feel great though. It was a victory for my experiment in time management. I was involved in 3 “things” (to use the technical word): 2 sessions and the Talent Show. I paced myself over the last three or four weeks, working with the amaaaaaazing Kirsten Milliken on our Improv course, tweaking and modifying over 6 different version of “I’m With My Tribe” and making little changes here and there to my “Who am I Living With!?!?” session.

What are my take-aways?

One is that I now have 2 more models to use when talking about relationships. Linda and Victor Roggli’s life story has components of the other resources I’m using, but it’s more accessible, more “feet on the ground”. The simple, practical take-away for me there was “would you be willing…?” as a way of starting a request. It fits nicely with my understanding of the power of narrative over information. Showing us that they start a request with “would you be willing…” is very different from saying “make request, not demands”.

The other new model had some of the same attraction. The session by Drs. Ferman and Wilford actually started with a real life example (his copying the wrong slides and not bringing the thumb drive). Again, realtime modeling of how things like “kindness not criticism” works. The Roggli’s had a nice scripted introduction that had them arguing about the placement of a frosty, drippy cup of ice water. I am making the assumption that Ferman’s and Wilford’s introduction was not scripted, but they might consider using it again and again. It set a tone of compassion and understanding for the entire session.

I had some great conversations with Patte (the ‘e’ is silent and so is the invisible ‘i’) the Monty Python loving, character vocalizing, burlesque performing, always positive, sequin-dressed Canadian powerhouse; kicked around some ideas about how next year’s Ambassador Program can be better with Doug and Melissa; had a wonderful conversation with a 40-year married woman whose husband is undiagnosed but she’s been able to live and work (really, he’s self employed and she works for him); and even got some insight into my own problems by asking Ferman and Wilford the questions I wanted to instead of sitting on them.

Ned Hallowell was a beacon of positivity and creativity as usual. I’ve modeled a lot of my understanding of ADHD-in-the-world on my study of comparative religion and Foucault’s work on “who gets to define ‘normal’ and how do they enforce it?” I understand what Rick Green said in his talk about “Friendly Fire”, what Sari said about “diversity is the norm” and what Ned said in his closing talk about ADHD being a trait with its positives and negatives. In my world, it’s like this: do drummers get to think of guitar players as “abnormal” or “deficit”? Do adherents of religion A get to look down on adherents of religion B because they have a different framework? Inside religions, do the Pentecostals or Sufis – all movement and sound – get to be critical of the Shakers and Theravadans – all silence and observation and listening? or the Unitarians or Vendantists – all theory and analysis (and yes, I understand I am painting with a broad brush).

No. They are different, not better and worse.

And while each of these things can have a dark side (neglecting your job and family to get in “just one more gig”, holy wars, people who take risks that endanger others as well as themselves, etc.), it is not the fact of their difference that makes it a dark side, it is an excess of one thing or another (reference Aristotle and the Golden Mean or the Buddha’s Middle Path).

Phew! Enough heavy thinking. What else happened?

I sold some T-shirts! Yay! Linda Roggli and Janine F were generous enough to let me display some of my ADD/ADHD t-shirts at their booth. AND I am very excited and proud that Frankie Williams (the amazing woman who sang the Our Father at the Talent Show) was the first person to buy one! How cool is that?

I have to admit, though, that the high point for me was everyone singing “I’m With My Tribe”. When I asked everyone to sing along, it was a real Moment of Truth. I could have been left standing up there being the one guy in the crowd singing Kum-ba-ya with everyone else standing staring at me. But my Tribe didn’t let me down.

And that’s kind of what ADDA’s all about. We won’t let each other down.

See you next year.