Claire and I broke up because I was prioritizing one dream over the other. I didn’t realize this was what I was doing until it was too late. (at least it looks like it was too late at this juncture). I have a mental disorder. This particular one disordered my ability to prioritize.
I began dreaming about how to become a “millionaire” at the age of 13, which became the dream of owning my own business. However, I cannot tell you when I began dreaming of the woman I would marry. I can’t tell you, because I don’t remember not thinking about it. I think I always knew that I would get married and have a family. As a kid, I just knew that’s what people do. Of course, it wasn’t that black and white. At some point, I regularly fantasized about the life I would live with a beautiful family. I recall a time in my pre-school daycare where the kids wanted to play “house.” I distinctly remember telling the group of children, “We’re going to have to do that when we’re older. Let’s go play on the tree.” And those kids who intuitively knew this to be the case followed my lead.
In this particular tree, we would imagine we were playing a video game. The tree had a stubby branch at the base that looked like a joystick and its trunk grew at an angle of about 20 degrees. We would imagine the kids walking out on the trunk were the characters in the game, while one of us sat at the joystick and used it to dictate what the characters actions. I was much more interested in learning how to play with people, then pretending to do what my parents were forced to do. When I was old enough to go to school, the first complaint my mother received from a teacher was, “Jeff day-dreams too much.” I’ve always followed my dreams.
There are lots of reasons why my dreams evolved toward Entrepreneurship. I’ll spare you most of the details, but one reason is because of play. I never seemed to realize that I was still prioritizing my life the same way I did at a young age. I was always competitive, even at a young age. I believed that the better we played, the more fun the game at hand is to play. Kids that weren’t good at sports, I had no idea were bad simply because they weren’t talented. I thought they just didn’t care enough about playing the game. I remember wondering, “Why does his dad make him play baseball? He obviously doesn’t like it.” I had no idea his dad was encouraging him to follow his passion. To me, the kid clearly didn’t have it. Passion that is. I always saw the good in people. I imagine, that if you went back and explained this to me at a young age, it would have baffled my mind. To me, sports were life. Because of this, I held the belief that before you could play house, you needed to be the best you can be at the sport you’ve chosen to play. This way, you can support your dream of playing house – in the funnest way possible.
My disorder does not allow me to fully understand time. Like the “Absent Minded Professor” I hyper focus on the current dream. The other dream? It may be knocking at my door… But, I won’t realize there is anyone knocking until I am the one doing the knocking. When I was younger – maybe I didn’t know to do it – I forgot to set an alarm to tell me to check the proverbial door for incoming callers. It turns out that some dreams can’t be put on hold. I believed that in order to get married, I needed to be able to provide a life where my wife did not need to work.
And, what’s wrong with that goal? When you don’t realize that you can be married before you are able to meet that goal. That if it’s the right person, you will obtain that goal together in matrimony. Maybe, in the end it won’t matter. But, to sum it up in the case of me and Claire, I guess the record would say, “I did it my way.” It just so happens that ‘my way’ is not necessarily the most optimized way to do it. I might look disordered at times. Because, at times I am. I am not perfect. Claire and I broke up because I have ADHD. It caused me to look through two lenses: broad range of rejection sensitivity and a scope aimed at providing for my number 1 dream: to build a family and play the most fun game of house ever.
I write this here, now, as a reminder to myself that thoughts are dreams. Be careful how you interpret your dreams. Discern your thoughts as dreams. Realize, that nightmares are there to teach you something. And most importantly, they are there because you have created the night terror. Therefore, read the dream for what it is:
A Reflection of You.
Dreams are always a reflection of you. Like a fun house, they do not always reflect an accurate physical image. You must interperate the message reflected back to you with the understanding that your fun house was built by you. The dream represented in the mirror has been warped by something you did. In a relationship, you are allowing someone inside your fun house. When their image is warped, you need to explain why they are seeing a warped image. When you go into their fun house, you should work together to understand why the images are warped.
When Claire was a reflection of me, I didn’t understand how to un-warp my reflection. In other words, I did not love my own fun house. I didn’t understand how I had built the mirrors. I’m now discovering new tools to un-warp the mirrors to bring order back to the funhouse. And, only now, am I learning how to re-build the funhouse into the house I really want to craft: the funnest Donnelly household imaginable. And, if you knew my Grandfather, you would know that that is one hard goal to obtain. I guess this goal required me to “Do it the Hard Way.”
I am a reflection of you. I hope that when you look at me, you can see that my mirror may seem a little bit warped, but I will always be able to explain myself. I know that you are the best person you can be. My intent is always to help you see how and why that is true. No matter who you are.
I broke up with my girlfriend to learn the hardest lesson imaginable:
Reflections depend on accurate Interpretation.
Communication is key. But, the door will only be opened if you knock.
The door will only open if you knock… back. That’s the secret to the code.