Soundtrack of a Misfit: Adventures in ADD & Addiction is my first large published work. A few of my poems have been included in small online poetry dedicated websites. My memoir was inspired by my struggles with Attention Deficit Disorder, as much as it was fueled by my passion for adventure and escape through music and (later) addiction.
I'm a Washington, D.C. native who came of age in the mid-eighties amidst the local punk scene and the rise of MTV. I wanted to be a rock star but I wasn't brave enough to stand my ground. 'Good 'Jewish girls didn't pierce their noses or wear ripped fishnet stockings with safety pins down the sides.
I always felt like a misfit; the disorganized lone wildflower shoved into a tidy bouquet of orderly roses. But I eventually found my way.
I was told by a psychologist, that the severity of my ADD would preclude my going to college. Yet, I've completed two vastly different graduate school programs (the first while backpacking throughout the country and living in a consensus-based community).
My 'otherness' led me to drink, job hop, and live on both coasts. I've been a barista, a Montessori Elementary school teacher, and a Recycling Specialist.
Today I'm proud to call myself a wildflower. I'm still not the most organized but I'm a fervent mental health therapist who uses my experience with ADD and addiction to help others. Therapist by day -- home karaoke singer by night.
It was 1976 - the heyday of disco and classic rock, I was too young to know despair but old enough to experience bewilderment and frustration. Listening to music was already my primary means of refuge. There’s a newspaper article my mom saved. Every time I come across it, my stomach sinks to my feet like it does when I fly and the plane hits a patch of turbulence. The photo in the article was of me. I ache for my five year old self - who wore a smock and stood in front of an easel easily twice my size.
I no longer wore a boy’s crewcut - courtesy of my best friend Nonnie, who was overzealous in playing hairdresser. My ash brown hair was long again. I wore it in a disheveled ponytail held fast with rubber bands that had colored plastic baubles on either end of them.
I became more impulsive and unintentionally divisive the older I became. I longed for my parents (I refer to my mom and stepdad as my parents) to praise me for my brave ambitions, such as becoming a punk rocker but all I ever heard was, “Rach, your head is in the clouds. Put your feet on the ground.” I knew I had it in me to become a scuba-diving paleontologist who sang in a rock band, but my parents saw me as unfocused and “all over the place.” I longed to be bold and rebellious like those I literally, as well as physically, looked up to. I was also smaller than everyone else in my classes—always.
A coming of age tale by Rachel Leigh Wills
Washington, DC area poet and writer
What a book!... I got hooked early. What a journey you had! I was amazed how much great and specific detail you were able to bring up from your past and I was amazed how courageous it was to reveal how some of your addictions manifested in your life and didn’t show you at your best. I’m sure your book will be beneficial to many who have similar challenges.
Garrett Phelan - Retired Montessori educator, writer, artist
This memoir had all the trappings of a great look into someone's inner world - there were plenty of moments that made me laugh, things that were heavy and personal, and parts that were touching. As someone who does not have ADD or ADHD, but grew up with a parent with ADD, this look a the role it played as the author's life unfolded was insightful. Reading about her descent into addiction and journey out, coupled with her acceptance of her ADHD, triumphant. I'm in the last chapter now and I'll be sad when it ends. Randi W.