Being Gifted

I turned up early at my parents’ house last night to find my Mum sat in the lounge drinking a glass of wine.  My regular readers will know the background to this, but suffice to say she’s an alcoholic who is in heart and kidney failure and has recently contracted Guillen Barre Syndrome.  To say she shouldn’t be drinking is the understatement of the century.   I’m too emotionally raw to talk about the situation today so will do a post about it when I’ve had a chance to mull it over.

However, feeling…………I dunno…………kind’ve traumatized and at sea I spent the morning Googling books on “adult children of alcoholics” and “adults from dysfunctional families” (again, for those new to my blog my childhood was a bit of a train wreck) but none of them resonated with me.  I’m not lacking in self esteem, I don’t have an addictive personality and couldn’t really relate to what I see as the “woe is me” attitude of many of the self help books out there particularly if accommpanied by references to God (it doesn’t help they are mostly American and the culture here in the UK is soooo different, especially here in the north).

What I did come across, however, was an article on the adult problems faced by ‘gifted children’ of which I am one.  That led me to Google more about the subject, which was fairly revelatory.

I was born into a working class family, in a working class neighbourhood, in the 60s.  The women spent their days (and nights) chained to the kitchen sink and the men spent their evenings down the pub and watching footie.  It’s just how it was and I didn’t fit in from the get go.

I could read a newspaper and play chess by the age of 4, and was sent to school a whole year early because at least my Mum recognized that I needed academic stimulation.  There were no special programmes for gifted kids in those days, but I was given reading lessons with the headmistress and stretched as far as was possible for an inner city school.

While my intelligence was at least recognized as a very young child, what wasn’t known about in those days was that gifted children have other aspects to their personalities and psyches that differ from other kids.  Here’s a sample:

It is NORMAL for Gifted People to:

  • Have complex and deep thoughts.
  • Feel intense emotions.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Be highly sensitive.
  • Set high standards for themselves.
  • Have strong moral convictions.
  • Feel different & out-of-sync.
  • Be curious.
  • Have a vivid imagination.
  • Question rules or authority.
  • Thrive on challenge.
  • Feel passion and compassion.
  • Have a great deal of energy.
  • Have an unusual sense of humour.
  • Feel outrage at injustice.
  • Look for meaning in life.
  • Feel sad about the state of the world.
  • Feel a spiritual connection to life.

© The Gifted Resource Center and Lesley Sword, Ph.D

I tick every single box and it explains a lot.  I often don’t understand other people’s lack of umpf (for want of a better word).  When I’ve written posts on the inequality, abuse and subjugation of women I have always been staggered at the lack of response, because the issue makes me literally want to SCREAM.  I experience emotions so intensely there are times I feel like my skin will burst, but I’ve come to recognize that most other people don’t seem to have the depth of feelings that I do and I’ve never understood why.  At my Camera Club I’ve been told to tone down my excitability on more than one occasion (it doesn’t help that the Club is full of middle-class professional men who wouldn’t know an emotion if one bit them in the arse) and many people struggle to cope with my exuberance for life.  Which makes me sad for them if I’m honest, though I appreciate they’re less knackered as a result of having more subdued personalities.

I loved my parents and I know they loved me, but I often felt intensely alone.  I knew from an early age I had more emotional intelligence, and was more clever, than they were and it was frightening and isolating as a child to realize I had no-one to guide me.   You can imagine the role I fell into, with a permanently depressed Mother and a step-Father who was probably somewhere on the autistic spectrum (or at the very least had learning difficulties), particularly when I came home from school with report cards that read “Jak is very mature for her age”.  No shit Sherlock.  Looking back I probably took on a partially adult role in our household at about the age of 14 and here I am at the age of 50 firmly entrenched in parenting my parents.

In fairness, it can’t have been easy for them either.  I must have felt like an alien child and one with whom they had absolutely nothing in common.  Add to that my child-hood emotional volatility, introspection, creativity and constant need for stimulation and they must have felt well out of their depth.

I suppose the big surprise is that we all came out of our respective lives still loving one another, a situation which has been sorely tested in recent years.  And if I’m honest I’m proud I’ve turned out as balanced and happy as I have, considering research has shown that gifted children are more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts, coupled with the fact that mast cell disease is implicated in depression, the biggest killer of ME patients is suicide and of course child-hood emotional abuse has a negative impact on mental health.  Put like that I’m amazed I’m not sat in the corner a gibbering wreck 😉

It’s been weird to have a light bulb moment today in respect of my “gifted-ness” (is that even a word?) and how, actually, it does make me different to most people and I haven’t simply imagined that my entire life.  Just like it was weird to find out that, actually, it wasn’t normal that my hands hurt when I wrote or that I wanted to be carried everywhere as a kid because my legs tired so easily and that it was down to having EDS.  And that, actually, it’s not normal for your lips to swell when it rains or for you to itch your skin off when you get out of the bath and that was down to having MCAD.  It’s validated a few things for me and made me realize that my feelings and experience of the world is normal for me, even if it’s different to the majority of other people’s.

Anyways, I’m now completely brain dead after the emotional turmoil with my Mother last night and my neighbour’s funeral this afternoon, so I’ll shut the fuck up.  Oh, another interesting fact – highly intelligent people swear more research has shown.  Yup, this being gifted shit explains a lot 😀 .

10 thoughts on “Being Gifted

  1. Annette

    THis resonates very highly with me. I was bullied constantly when a kid because I was different and wouldn’t get up to the vandalism and petty larceny the other kids did. My father was Victorian in his attitudes and my mother…not the brightest. I was so very lonely as a child Andrew in many ways, I still am. Like you I was reading before I went to school and I went early. I graduated from uni at just 20 but have achieved far less than I should have. My mother brought me up to be scared of life and nothing I ever did was good enough for my dad. Is it any wonder I never thought I was good enough for anything else? I actually believed I had been left behind by alien parents who would return for me some day, I felt so different from everyone else in my environment.

    Anyway, huge hugs, lovely. Thanks to the Internet we are not alone now xxx

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    1. Jak Post author

      I didn’t reach my academic potential either Annette, which I read today is common amongst female gifted children and very high for gifted children from working-class or poorer backgrounds. I also read that although people expect gifted kids to become doctors or lawyers, due to our empathetic and/or creative natures we often excel at careers which are classed as less academic such as counselling or art. Jak x

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  2. Glo

    Ha ha!! That explains my bad language. I didn’t tick every box there but almost all. I learned early to subdue emotions as my mother frowned upon emotions crying etc. I was also bullied for being different. I have finally reached a point in my life where I’ve learned to be me and not care what others think. I’m sorry to hear about you mother and hope it won’t continue. I do have an addictive personality and it’s really hard to deal with but have fortunately been strong enough to stop certain behaviors and at least control others. Drinking was not one of them and I’ve heard that’s the most difficult of all. Let’s hope your mom can be strong. She stopped once and that’s a big plus.

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  3. Ellie

    Oh damn – I ticked every box! I came from a dysfunctional home too, Father asbergers & not really interested in kids, Mother narcissistic explosive, violent & controlling. We got beaten alot – for nothing. My sister has two degrees, scientific & business management, I couldn’t read until I was seven because no one explained why I should! Then within a year I was reading readers digest, Jack Cousteau books, and things that were so advanced I was asked to help the other kids, same with maths didn’t get it until ‘click’ one day I knew more than the rest of the class. I hate Uni or Id have stayed past the first year, I only did my access to biomedical science in 2014.I remember the latin names for flora & fauna but forget the common names. Im really creative, capable of extremely abstract thought, design stuff in my head & then just go & make it without having to draw it, & have suffered extreme suicidal depression from the age ten. Its hard to take the good with the bad, but my mantra is “this too will pass… eventually”.
    I find your posts extremely helpful. Having stuff in common with other people cuts the isolation

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  4. Moises

    Hi Jak,
    sorry about your mom.
    I like your post. Two questions I have.
    What “umpf” means?
    What is your gift?
    Best wishes to you and your furry friend!

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    1. Jak Post author

      Umpf means get up and go/passion for life.

      Being gifted academically doesn’t apply to just one subject. It’s a term given to children who are in the 90 and above percentile when tested for IQ. If I remember correctly if a child scores above 120 in a standard IQ test they are considered mildly gifted with high intelligence, whereas those scoring 140 or above are considered highly gifted with intelligence. Giftedness is supposed to be something children are born with and not something you can teach them.

      The last IQ test I did (admittedly about 10 years ago now) I scored 119, but you have to remember I have a brain injury and brain fog, so I did OK all things considered!
      Jak x

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  5. Karen, The Walking Allergy

    I have had several ‘Ah ha!’ moments watching my children deal with school. It reveals a great deal to see your child do the same mistakes you did. My lovely little girl thought that if she’d asked someone to play, and they said ‘no’ that it was still the case two years later. Hon, they dont even remember that they knew you in Kindergarden! I’ve realized that i confuse the hell out of doctors, and they simply dont know me well enough to realize that I aint an average bear (on any measure….). I actually say “If im not making sense, let me know. Im a genius with brain fog.” It works SO much better than I thought it might. And it’s a very revealing test- chances are that im smarter than they are, and that I know more about MCAS than they do. If they’re intimidated by that rather than intrigued, fascinated, etc., I probably won’t be back. If i get a blank stare, i do whatever I can to minimize the colateral damage from that doc, and then run like the wind!

    Im sorry your Mum is in bad shape. I know its easier said than done, but try to remember that the only person whose behaviour you can control is your own. And that you have not only the ‘right’ but the ‘obligation’ to take care if yourself. If you crash and burn, you will be of no use to your folks.

    K

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