Has anyone out there with ADHD had the experience of appearing to be, but not actually, lying due to working memory issues? About a week ago, I had what has to be the trillionth such event with my husband. The story itself is stupid but serves to illustrate my point:
My husband, father-in-law, and son had gone out and my ADHD son had forgotten some sporting equipment in my father-in-law’s car. My father-in-law realized this and called to relay this information, adding he might not have time to drop it off. He lives about 40 minutes away.
My husband was out during the call and when he returned, I told him that our little guy had forgotten something in his Dad’s car, and that we might have to pick it up. My husband was annoyed, which I had anticipated, but I had not anticipated him blaming his Dad, which he did.
At the time of his annoyance, I had the following thoughts floating around:
v it’s not worth it to get worked up about this
v it was an accident; it happens
v his Dad was in pain following surgery; no wonder he didn’t feel like dropping it off
v I could pick it up; husband had been really sweet this past week helping me out while I had lots of work to do this week
Some unrelated thoughts...
v I can’t believe I remembered to relay a message…woo-hoo!
v 1 thought concerning a question he had asked me earlier that afternoon and why had he asked it, which led to…
v 4 irrelevant thoughts related to his mood, my interpretation of his mood, and whether or not I was reading into it.
Two judgemental thoughts I had but dismissed in favor of the first four thoughts above…
v Isn’t he being hypocritical? He would want me to take responsibility if our son had forgotten something and I hadn’t noticed.
v I’m doing him a favor by informing him of his hypocrisy; he would not want to be hypocritical; it’s his biggest pet peeve
I calmly asked him why he was getting so upset at his Dad and was thinking about telling him I could pick it up. He got upset with me because he felt I was defending his Dad instead of him. He has many issues with his parents, hasn’t been on good terms with his mother for almost a year and has life-long issues with his father, who lived in another country for a number of years while he was young. It never even occurred to me he would get mad for that reason. My response was to tell him that he shouldn’t be mad at him, that it wasn’t a big deal, and asked (calmly) what he would say to me if I had forgotten our son’s belongings in his father’s car. This last thought, which I had previously dismissed, resurfaced when he asked me why I defended his Dad. This made him even angrier and he told me I was just being vengeful for the times he’s tried to make me take responsibility. I told him this wasn’t my motivation and argued that I was thinking it wasn’t a big deal, his Dad’s back hurt, and I could pick it up. He argued that I was lying; this was about vengeance. Minutes into the argument, I COMPLETELY FORGOT about having wanted to pick up it up for him, his Dad’s back, and that I didn’t feel it was a big deal. I was listening to his assertion that I was being petty, and following this thought, I remembered that when I first relayed the message, I did think about his hypocrisy. At this point, NOT REMEMBERING THAT I HAD DISMISSED THOSE THOUGHTS EARLIER, AND WITHOUT RECALLING THEY HAD RESURFACED in answer to his question, I conceded he was right. Then he told me I had lied, because my first response had been to tell him that I was only thinking of him when in fact I had vengeance on my mind. When he told me that I had lied and that I had contradicted myself, I DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT. I had no clue I had contradicted myself, because I didn’t remember processing all of those thoughts. That’s right; my memory is that piss-poor. The funny thing is that I was calm when stating my thoughts, wasn’t being argumentative or defensive, AND I apologized!!! I have been working on not impulsively arguing, not being defensive, and apologizing when necessary.
This kind of shit happens a lot. I can see how it looks like lying, but it is not. I can forget what I've said and thought pretty quickly, and when I have contradicting thoughts (as we complicated humans do sometimes), boy, does it make me look a crazy liar. I have explained this fight and others to my therapist, and she tells me she hears this frequently from her ADHD patients as a frustrating symptom complaint. She says it is a working memory issue. My husband thinks I have a lying problem. It hurts me deeply to know that my husband thinks I have a serious character flaw that I do not have. I have tried to explain this to him, but he won’t listen. Again, he thinks I am making excuses. My therapist thinks I should point out my thinking when we are not fighting so he is more receptive. I am going to do that at the next opportunity. Has anyone else experienced this issue? If so, how do you handle it?