I find your struggles so familiar. I have been married 13 years. We dated for 5 before that. I loved the hyper focus lovefest--especially so because I am the adult child of alcoholic/co-dependent parents. I also loved to rescue my ADHD man from his various crises.
After our second baby, he received a huge contract that would take 3 years of his life to complete. It fed his ego and narcissism. This is when he completely absented himself from me and our family, both emotionally and physically. Like so many of you, I kept the house going, raised the kids, worked full time. I was completely supportive of his work, but never felt credited for my contribution.
I thought when the project ended, we’d be better than ever. But it got so much worse. His sleep patterns never fell back into place, and his impulsivity, angry outbursts, and alcohol abuse were unbearable. I gained 40 pound in one year which prompted me to seek counseling for my own compulsive eating. That door opened another and another. We soon started marriage counseling. But I have to say, 5 years of marriage counseling were a big waste of time. He told the therapist that he was willing to support me, help me get better, but he was at peace with who he is. My therapist and our marriage counselor helped me to understand that narcissism and ADHD may be at work here. And my husband accepted both of these possibilities, and started to see his own therapist (specializing in children with ADHD). He's now on medication.
But the behaviors at home didn't change. My suspicions of infidelity were increasing, and it didn't take me long to find out that all these years he was living a double life. He carried on affairs right under my nose. I am still dealing with fundamental betrayals of all that. I always promised myself that infidelity and alcoholism were deal breakers. My therapist encouraged me to NOT do anything during the initial crisis. Over the last year, I’ve been working on myself and my codependence. I am hugely comforted by mindfulness meditations and yoga, running, and my dear dear girlfriends. My husband has been steadfast that he wants to stay married.
But it seems like now, without his “double life” coping mechanism, he’s worse than ever. He suffers from major depression and high anxiety, which stirs up all sorts of unnecessary drama and crises. And he continues to lie to me, even over the inconsequential things.
I am ready to make some very important decisions. I think I am at a place where I can leave this marriage and know that I did it with thoughtfulness, and not out of anger. I love to hear his remorse and apologies. It seems to really hook me and bring me back in. But I’m starting to wonder if the remorse and apologies are what I’m so thirsty for because I never heard them from my own father for the destruction he caused in my childhood.
I am started to stand up for myself in healthy ways. I walk away from his explosions instead of try to win. These changes seem to threaten him. He seems quite frightened that I am considering leaving. But his threats and intimidations are not what will keep me around. He can't seem to understand that. I am working so hard on being a present parent to my kids, giving them my full attention, not multitasking when they want to share their day. I encourage them to express their feelings and try so hard by example to show them the difference between their feelings and their behavior. And the more I am able to do these things, the worse my husband is with his own behavior.
I have agreed to see one more marriage counselor. I have let go of any hope that he’ll change, and have turned my focus on changing me. I am at peace with who he is. Although I accept him, I know that I do not him. But I am not yet at peace with the finality of divorce. I still have some ways to go with myself.
Thank you for letting me share. It was helpful to me to write this down.