I ran into an old friend in the grocery store today. Well, I’d guess I’d call her more of an acquaintance, really. We met through mutual friends, had dinner once, and talked about getting together, but never quite made it past our mutual inertia to become friends.

But when she commented on the bumper sticker on my car, I realized how long it had really been. It feels like a lifetime since that first meeting at DLS when John said “I can’t truly diagnose after thirty minutes, but he’s presenting to me as classically severely dyslexic: you need to have him tested.” Really, a lifetime. So long ago that it feels like I’ve always known. But it was less than two years ago, and K didn’t know.

And it was strange telling someone new. Eighteen months ago, I went through the telling again and again, and I hardly ever managed without having to fight back tears and look away in order to not cry. I spent six months in turmoil where it felt like the most important thing in my life was this “special needs” label that had dropped on us out of the blue.

And I grew so sick of the people who said, “Oh, my brother was dyslexic; he didn’t get diagnosed until he was sixteen but he’s doing great now.” Right. Like that’s the same thing as someone who’s five standard deviations off the norm, and reading on a pre-K level in 3rd grade. It felt to me a lot like saying to someone who’s blind, “oh, I know someone with glasses.” There are shades of experience, and the assumption of commonality made me grit my teeth and want to scream.

But honestly, it was a long time ago. And it doesn’t feel that bad anymore. I named this blog after that moment–that stunned numb minute where the words clicked into place in my head and I realized that everything was different and that nothing was what I thought it was. But I also named it Learning Shock because learning about learning has been revelatory. I wouldn’t say I was happy about everything I’ve had to learn in the past eighteen months, but it’s definitely been interesting!

The bumper sticker is, of course, “Dyslexics have more fnu.” You might think it’s inappropriate, whether or not you are dyslexic or know someone who is. But Rory thinks it’s funny, and I think that it is a wonderful thing that we can celebrate something that was so painful such a brief time ago.