This is such a tough situation and I recognize that it is affecting my health, my happiness, and my children. I need this to change pretty soon. I am sorry this will be a long post. I am telling you, I used to be a kind, happy, considerate person with a great job and caring friends, a supportive extended family and a talent and joy for my work--just got a bonus and big award for doing well. I have a sense of humor. I like to have fun. But I am a wreck underneath at this point. A huge wreck, losing weight with migraines almost every day and hair falling out. My children need me. I need me to be myself again. Long story short--I am the non-, and we have been spouses for over a decade with grade school aged children. We have had a tumultuous, explosively dysfunctional relationship that has worsened to the point of being just about dead. DH admits that he has ADHD, has had it for years, used to take medication to be able to work a job that required few hours, but would not address ADHD's impact in any other area of his life. Everything was me. Or, a reaction to me. I accept my part for becoming angry and hurt. I have been asking him to go to counseling for five years. I read the books and tried to get him to: "The Five Love Languages," and about 10 books on ADHD. He read Melissa's book, said, "That's not me, I do not have self-esteem issues," underlined the parts about the spouse being angry (me), threw the book down and stormed out, and that was that. He once agreed to go to counseling, for about a day, then I sounded stressed the next day, he exploded at me, and went back to refusing. Now he says that I am the one with the problems, that I need to see a psychiatrist (I do see a therapist), and that if it weren't for me, he wouldn't have any stress in his life and would be just fine.
Years later (I think stress is an issue) DH has a serious physical disability, a condition that makes even moving around difficult, and does not work. He will not admit or discuss that his ADHD affects our relationship or any other aspect of his life in a negative way. Describes himself as a genius (he is very creative and talented and bright)--"the world is wrong, not me--the founder of so and so had ADHD! I am brilliant..." I suspect that in addition to this ADHD, he also must have some other stuff going on and that over the years, with the addition of maintaining a job, having a house, having children, and me not being so ok with him coming and going as he pleases--the stress ensued for him. So does his doctor, by the way (doctor asked bipolar? other brain/chemistry/issues? during a visit months ago--DH denies it or once said, "So? A lot of people have bipolar disorder.") I am seeing a therapist because I am so stressed out and anxious that I can't live this way any longer. I do not recognize myself. I have started investigating separating, which is awful and something I take very seriously. It will wreck us financially, of course, maintaining two households, and on top of it, he is also physically ill, on disability, and I will be "leaving" and throwing out a very sick person. We have no family in the area. But I feel trapped in this house and I. am. losing. my. ever-loving. mind. I also no longer want my children growing up and thinking that this is "normal." It is sad--we are still young, and this condition and the stress from it and our marriage have caused him to lose almost everything--job, wife, maybe living in our house with our kids -- and at this point, he is in "curl up and hide" mode alternating with "There is nothing wrong with me." He lays in bed for days on end. He gets explosively angry and out of control. He has not said a kind word or spoken to me in a kind way in at least a year. He said once that he does not want to lose everything, and cried, but he won't make even one step to change anything.
I have asked DH to see a psychiatrist numerous times and told him that I can't take care of him if he won't. On my end, I see him with some serious depression, alternating with some "highs," a physical condition that has him on disability that is aggravated by stress, and several issues that I will list that may or may not be related to ADHD. His family and I have asked him to see a psychiatrist. His doctor mentioned it once but feels DH has to agree and make the appointment unless he is in danger of hurting himself, which hasn't seemed the case. And it is true: if he does not want to address these things, it won't do any good for him to do it for the rest of us.
I guess the question ADHD or something else is also paired with: am I nuts? am I the worst wife ever? or is this as bad as I think it is and I just need to cowboy on up, cut our losses, arrange for him to get some physical help other than me, and separate? How in the almighty world am I going to explain this to our children? (And I know, I will have to do all of it). I feel so exhausted and defeated that summoning up the strength to take the next step feels huge. I eat right, I exercise, I talk to friends, see a therapist, and try to be a good person. I am just mad at myself that I am in this situation. Maybe the only answer is to just rip off the bandaid and file (I have no idea what I will have to do to get him to leave, and I really feel it is the right thing to do to keep the house and let our children live it in with me--I am the primary bread winner now, the main caretaker, and also feel like I deserve it, since I do everything). But I still feel bad. It blows.
ADHD or something else and am I the worst wife ever or is this just untenable? --
Major issues that have been going on for years and he won't see a doctor about any of them or seemingly can't address them:
1) Sleep problems, apnea, and the "last minute" cycle. Can't sleep at night. Usually can at 5 a.m. and sleeps until noon. Tough with kids who get up at 6! Recently got caught up watching a series on video and went 48 hours without sleeping, then slept all day, until 4 p.m., then awoke in agony because he hadn't taken his medicine in way too many hours and forgot to eat. Happens all the time. He has such bad apnea and snores so much--got one sleep study and it was atrocious--won't get a CPAP, or follow up even though doctor has told him it puts him at risk for all kinds of bad things and affects his health. I can't sleep with the noise--you can hear him through a closed door--we have been in separate rooms for years. Also can't do things until they are an emergency--fixing something or writing a report for work--will wait and then stay up all day and night for days to do it by a deadline. Again, tough with kids and strain on me as he goes into "save yourself, I have to do this" mode. But afterward describes himself as a hero who can work "20 hour days!" (for a week or two until the crisis is over. Then, back to hard to move or do anything mode). He did this to write a work report when we had an infant and toddler and I was going back to work after being on maternity leave. And didn't warn me that it was coming. And bragged to everyone later about being able to write this report that usually takes others 2 months, in 2 weeks! Insists that "there is nothing wrong -- you just can't handle the way I work" when I try to talk to him about what a strain it puts on me. The physical strain of doing this for years have put a toll on his body, if nothing else.
2) Blurting, anger, criticism, and verbal abuse. OK, I hate to even write this because as a smart, independent woman, I sound like I am portraying myself as a victim. What does this have to do with ADHD? DH blurts things out that I see as a criticism. It does not matter if our kids or my mom or anyone is around. "Your car is so messy, yuck," or "That is why (our kids) don't listen to you." He says that he only means to "help" when I tell him it hurts my feelings. Or that I am too sensitive. He rarely apologizes. If I have one moment of being slightly upset, mad, or hurt (1 or 2 on a scale of 10), that is all she wrote (I sound a little strained and say, "Please don't talk to me about how I am disciplining them it in front of the boys.") It is hard not to take it personally because it is about me and it is PERSONAL! He gets really mad, it escalates, I keep trying to "reason" with him (I know, I know...explaining why my car is messy doesn't help--now I just walk out of the room). But the end of the escalation is usually him yelling something awful at me, "The day we got married I knew I was making a mistake!" or "You are a horrible, fake person: I wish you'd never been born," or my favorite, "You are a terrible mother!" At this point, it has been going on for so long and I feel like I have PSTD, truly--I don't even care if it is from ADHD. These are horrible things to say to someone. I have told him that he is verbally abusive. His answer: "YOU are abusive. You start everything and get mad at me. I know it's not great to say those things, but you are always mad at me." OK, but I would never say something like that to anyone. Ever. I have tried to explain how hurt I am and he accuses me of not wanting to let go, of holding on to it and choosing to be hurt. No apology, or if there is, it is, with a raised voice, "I am sorry, OK!?" So I am supposed to walk on eggshells and smile every time he tells me in front of our children that I cooked the broccoli too long, that my car is messy, that I am not disciplining them (falls to me!!!) right? And I am not allowed to get mad or hurt, ever. And I can't tell him that he did something "wrong" or he will defend it to his last breath. He often appears grumpy, irritable, and in a bad mood, takes it out on me, and then a moment later will be nice as pie to the meter reading guy who just showed up. I am so, so, so very sad that my spouse treats me this way and says these things. He has anger issues--sure, I get pissed or annoyed, but he smashed a telephone on the floor the last time he got really mad. And any time I tell him that I think he needs some help with anger management, I get, "YOU are the angry one!" I saved a few phone messages he left for me when he was mad -- I thought they may help with getting him to see how he sounds. But now I think I may need them legally?
3) Apparent lack of awareness of others, especially me. My mother thinks he is the most self-centered person in the world, and that it is "all about him." That adds stress--now I get, "Your mother doesn't like me!" Issues with talking on, and on, and on, and not taking in the verbal or other cues from others around him. My mom and others in his family have told me that they have to leave the room sometimes to "get a break." I know he is sensitive about it, and he knows he does it, but usually his response, no matter how kindly or gently I tell him that he talked all the way through the 20 minute teacher conference we had, talking about all this educational theory he had read and how he handles raising our child, until the teacher was dumbfounded, is either, "No, I didn't," or "She just doesn't get me--other people LOVE how entertaining I am." OK. And the drama (I really think there is some narcissistic thing going on here, but if it is ADHD, please let me know if you have seen this) around anything physical or illness happening to him! He is the most melodramatic person, ever, when he is hurt or sick. Like, I think there is something wrong here--I have never in my life seen someone behave like this. His behavior, talking, drama, and need to talk about it dominates everything. He didn't used to be this way. He will go on and on moaning, and talking about how much a scrape on his arm hurts, and how bad it is, and I think that seriously, it is not that bad! All while our children are standing there saying they are hungry! His gag reflex makes him thrash around and make gagging noises (once when smelling a poopy diaper, he was so bad that a friend asked if he needed to go to the hospital). My mom got fed up with him when I was recovering from a cesarean, trying to breast feed, doing my best, and he kept going on and on about himself and how tired HE was. Recently, I told him, "The kids are sick--I have the worst migraine ever--I can only see red---and such bad cramps I can hardly walk." I never complain, I was in so much pain, and without missing a beat he said, "Hm. Oh, my back hurts so bad! Oooh, oooh, uuuh," and walked away from me, hobbling and moaning. Not any recognition whatsoever. No sympathy, no empathy. I used to get so mad and hurt. Now I just sigh. I tried gently asking, "Do you see that I am working so hard, taking care of all of us, while you are sick, and I am tired, and in pain? Do you appreciate it or see it?" "OK."--why do you need me to say it?" I wish I could just smile and shrug it off.
4) Need for me to pay attention, to listen to a long story, to drop everything and help him RIGHT THEN when he is on a "high" or doing something. Again, I try to gently say, "Hey, I can listen to you in a minute, but I just walked in the door and the kids are hungry." He gets hurt every single time and accuses me of not caring about him or wanting to spend time with him. Last week, I told him that I hadn't slept, and needed to lay down for one hour, and a few minutes later he came bursting in my room, and demanded that I just come help him hold a bolt thing while he worked on a tire on his car. Seriously. And when I explained my point of view, that I had nicely asked for one hour and that he woke me up, his answer was, "I just needed help for one second! I have to fix this or we won't be able to drive anywhere!" Like I am the jerk, I am the unreasonable one who doesn't want to help him!! Or he will go on and on about some thing he read about soy on the internet when I am trying to help the kids with their homework and get so hurt when I, after 10 minutes, stop him and tell him that I can't listen any more right then, that the KIDS. NEED. ME.
Anyone out there, thanks for listening. Just such a tough time. I am not sure there is anywhere to go with this any more but out. He tells me that I mistreat him (as he says horrible, awful things to me), and if I ever get even the slightest bit upset or stressed out, it becomes all about that and we never get to talk about the issue. His capacity for denial and deflection are amazing to behold--all he can say to me is that I am the one with the problems. Have I tried hard enough and done enough to deserve some peace? I am amazed at all of you, living with difficulty with loved ones, functioning, and at times, working it out. I know it is important for my kids to see me be calm and not react, and I am trying so hard to disassociate, to not be co-dependent, to not let them have to see their parents fight. No matter what, even if I can eventually settle all of us and separate, it will be a long road ahead and I will need to be able to deal with him as healthily as possible. But I am exhausted. I am doing EVERYTHING. I can't keep it up. This sucks.