I was listening to an episode of Dax Shepard’s podcast ‘Armchair Experts’, and something in his interview with Will Arnett (Episode 178) really stuck with me. Arnett explained that there are all kinds of people who will support someone when they complain about the ‘done-me-wrongs’ and the times they were hurt by others. And it’s tempting to stay in that place. But it’s far healthier, he said, to let go of all that. In essence, don’t give those people, those bad times, that hurt, any ‘air time’. Don’t let them take up space in your mind, and don’t let them continue to colour your mood. Let it go.
Simple enough. I’d heard it before, and I’m sure you have too. I’ve tried to follow that advice, several times – but didn’t reallywant to. I didn’t want to let go of the painful experiences, because I felt that by holding on to them, there was some kind of justice that would be enacted against the perpetrators. Of course, that’s poppycock, and I knew it. The only people we hurt when we hang on to hurt is ourselves.
When I told my sister about this ‘new’ revelation that was like Liquid-Plumr for my clogged thoughts, she said, “I get it – past relationships. Gotta let them go.” This was interesting to me, and also a surprise. See, even though I feel like I have been burned in several years-long relationships that sank me to the pits of depression, these weren’t the people I had in mind. I don’t go to bed thinking about how much I hate ex-girlfriends. In fact, I guess I’m kind of neutral on them.
So who do I think about in the wee hours of morning, when I can’t sleep, causing me to seethe with anger? Silly people. Someone who harassed me at work during a short period of time ten years ago and got the best of me. A manager who disciplined me for transgressions (tardiness) he himself was engaging in with more frequency and intensity. A cyclist on the street who tried to provoke me into assaulting him while his girlfriend filmed me on her cellphone (it didn’t work). I could go on. But the point is that they are – were – and always will be insignificant in my life.
But I hate them. I hate them.
Photo by NASA on Unsplash
Is that an extreme feeling? Perhaps too big a word? Miriam-Webster defines hate as “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury”. Nope – sounds about right to me.
We’re supposed to avoid hate. It’s the path to the Dark Side, after all. But I can’t deny that I’ve allowed it to fester – nay, I’ve fueled it – in my thoughts. And after hearing this podcast, and deciding to finally kick these dirtbags – the coworker, the manager, the cyclist, etc. – out of my head, I was left with a question. What is the relationship between ADHD and hate?
Further, since I have spent years reflecting on these people I hate, was there some benefit, chemical or otherwise, that I was experiencing? Was hating a pleasurable act for an ADHDer? Was I hyper-focusing on hate?
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) often finds itself in the ADHDer’s little red wagon. Adults with ODD can be negative, hostile or defiant on a regular basis, and typically engage in a range of behaviours that can damage relationships at work and at home. As a result of these interactions, the sufferer frequently feels mistreated, victimized, and wronged. Vindictiveness also figures prominently in ODD, which may explain why I’ve fantasized about revenge tactics like mailing these people some fecal matter, planting bed bugs in their cars, or showing up to boo them at public performances.
I never thought I had ODD in any great capacity. The reasons for my disagreements with other people were always either their faults, or a misreading of situations, or circumstances that led them to be dirtbags. But it wasn’t me. Meh, it probably was. Another clue might be that I don’t spend hours in the wee morning, when I can’t sleep, about all the people I love and think are just fantastic.
But I’ve resolved to taking Will Arnett’s advice – and letting go of the dirtbags. I won’t give them any more airtime. I’m confident this will be good for me and will bring benefits to my mental health. But I think I’ll still hate them though. I just won’t dwell on it – but they’ll live in a dusty corner of my memory on a crappy shelf labeled ‘hate’, and that will be it.
Feels better already.