ADHDer's Concern for Non-ADHD?

Alrighty, gang...  Need a bit of help on this one. I'm not going to deny that I've been in my own little world with regards to my relationship with my dear ADHD partner. Things must be done my way. I've had a very clear "script" in my head on how things should go, etc. Not uncommon for us codependents, really. :) A lot of my troubles have been with things not getting done MY way, and I'd freak out when they weren't. (Just like it says in Melissa's book!) 

Spent the day with my DP yesterday at the house, and had a very enjoyable time. Really reminiscent of why we got together in the first place. 

I was surprised when it came up that part of his troubles with things as they were before was his paralyzing concern for me, what I want, and my situation. (Lots of personally stuff within a relatively short period occurred.)  He actually went MIA a number of times. 

My natural tendency has been to call "BS" on it, chalk it up as an "ADHD excuse" and begin berating. That didn't happen. I actually believed what he was saying. That is odd for me in this situation.

So, my question is this -- Can anyone here help me on this one? I REALLY want to be hopeful on this, but I'm nervous. How do ADHDers show concern? Has anyone else fled (literally - run away) when it gets really​ tough? What do you hope us non-ADHD folks knew about your actual desire to be connected and concerned? 


My ADHD husband has said that

My ADHD husband has said that he immediately assumes that any worries, fears, concerns, sadness, depression, etc. I  go through were caused by him.  Then he feels guilty and guilt causes his brain to shut down and he retreats.  

Run away...

I have not actually run away from my DW, but I may have felt like doing so a few times. I know I have posted about my inability to show difficult feelings well. Concern is included in the list. I certainly Feel concern and Want to show this emotion to people. It helps when I know something is really affecting someone and I try to help them and show my concern for them. Often though, especially in my ADD Fog, I would be oblivious to something bothering my DW and my Not Noticing eventually made her think I Just Didn't Care. She would wait on me to show concern and eventually get upset and tell me what is bothering her and that I Must Not Care, because I have not shown concern. Now I feel Extremely Guilty for missing Something Else that should have been obvious, Mad at myself for repeating this cycle, but feel attacked in the situation, mainly out of not being prepared for a topic and caught off guard. The thing that really sucks at this point is Nothing I say or Do at this point is any more than lip service. I had to be told she was upset about something, so it makes it that much harder to express concern as I have added to her list of things bothering her. As another post points out, I would be so bad that I would just shut down under the anxiety, again, making me really look like I just don't care. During a Shut Down I could have hundreds of thoughts racing through my head and just not be able to stop and select the right thing to say. I would worry about saying something that does not clearly express my thoughts, there is no 7 second delay and the re-do won't count because I already said something else.

Basically, concern is a very Real Time emotion needed to support someone you care about. An unexpected topic is an ADDer's worst nightmare. I don't jump into any conversation without feeling comfortable with my knowledge of a topic, but with Concern you need to be able to just this very thing to Seem Concerned.

Sorry if I rambled, the meds are Long gone... 

Ramble or Not - It helps! :)

I don't think you were rambling. I'm quite a fan of a stream-of-consciousness writing style myself if you haven't noticed. ;)

Your DW sounds a lot like me. Does she have a script in her head of things you should say and do? Do you feel like she often times forgets to give you a copy of YOUR script, though? One of my biggest hurdles here lately is to remember that no one has a copy of the script, and certainly no one can get inside my head to find it on their own. If so, I'll do a pretty good job to keep it hidden from them so I'm not vulnerable. 

I never knew that shutting down was an option. My own anxiety keeps me is SUCH high gear, that I'm sure I'm a pain in the ass to be with during high-stress times. Being open to hearing about your anxiety and how it impacts you is wonderful. I'm not going to tell you your wrong which leaves me with nothing but to listen and learn. :) 

"Re-do" -- Very interesting. My DP said two things yesterday within very short period. 1) "I'm not sure I'm relationship material." and 2) "I don't want a divorce because I love you and I want to make this work." At first, I thought he was just confused and sorting things out, and part of me was glad he said this as it tells me he's spending time on what he wants instead of just faking things like we've do so much in the past. (I also didn't react which I think was helpful for him to feel safe.) 

While this might be splitting hairs, I'm also curious if the first statement (not relationship material) is one of those self-doubting, internal things that a filtered mind might not have let slip out. (Again, the convo was very calm, so I'm not surprised and quite pleased it did.)  Nonetheless, it did push my "abandonment" buttons, and I'm quite glad about that. I can say "Wow - that hurts. Excuse me while I step away for a little bit and work on this one!" 

XYZ, do you ever wish conversations with you DW came with commercial breaks so you can collect your thoughts? Rather, so you DW can have some breathing room to stop breathing down your neck and do her own thinking/processing for a minute? 


Waiting for my DH to respond

Waiting for my DH to respond takes a lot of time and patience and I know that while we wait until his thoughts are collected (for EVERY response), both of our minds start wandering to other things and then the conversation becomes nearly impossible.  That is what our conversations have become.  Impossible.  Here, I believe is why: "I'll do a pretty good job to keep it hidden from them so I'm not vulnerable." This makes me the only one who is laying myself out there and I feel like he must edit his thoughts, and construct the words so that I don't get the whole picture of what he is thinking.  I am always in the dark with him...sometimes I think I don't even know him. Whereas it seems that I have pulled my insides out trying to get him to notice and care that I am a human being - being vulnerable.  It makes me distrust him when he talks as though he is trying to WIN the conversation (so that HE does not have to feel vulnerable). For 35 years he has WON the conversations by not telling me the whole truths and manipulating the conversations until I am upset and give up.  And for 35 years I have felt like he has been dishonest with me by doing that.  I don't believe a word he says now. When two people want their lives to be entwined and love and trust each other, the conversation IS vulnerable.  That is what partnership and marriage is all about.  When things are kept hidden, people know to "back off" OR try to get the person to "open up and share".  I am writing this and sharing it because this is for my own processing of what goes on and how I have blamed myself for not being able to MAKE this marriage work.  

Okay, I have a sister who talks to me like I talk to DH - condescending, inquisitive, scolding, accounting, insinuating (ouch, I hate to admit that). I have realized that  the fewer facts she has, the fewer bad things she can say about me or to me.  Any little thing I say when I start forgetting how she responds, she turns into a drama and picks at it until she makes me feel bad.  She MUST look better and she MUST have control. She MUST put me in my place at least once every time we are in a room together. If no words are said she will just not acknowledge my presence at all. I feel defensive and wait for the tirade (or the subtle air) of her superiority.

So here I get to feel how it is to be on both sides of this (need to keep some things unsaid). I can imagine how hard it is to live with me when I "know how things should be done right and you don't seem to care how I feel or IF things should get done and if I want it done at all I have to do it myself." It does have to do with standards.  Her standards (wealth, class, perceived status, guts, strength) are higher than mine.  My standards (accountability, responsibility, clean language, growth, parenting, trust, partnering, hygiene, good habits) are higher than DH.

Rambling, I know. Non-ADDers sometimes have whirling thoughts too. Not even sure what I started to talk about.  Maybe the whirling thoughts come as part of what I don't want to have to admit and think about. Instead of having the vision and working to become the person I want to be, it is easier to blame someone else for me feeling inferior and helpless. Ooch, ouch, ouch.

Script! This is Really Funny...

I cannot tell you how many times I said "I don't have a copy of the script" or "I'm not programmed for a response to this". Shutting Down was never really a choice. It is a function of mental exhaustion or the result of building anxiety, guilt and over-whelm.  "I'm not sure if I'm relationship material" this is interesting because we just had a conversation about "What if" either of us were single by whatever means, death, divorce, hypothetically... I KNOW there is No Way I'd ever get married again, because it is just so hard to learn everything over again. Too Complicated and I've got kids and so happy for this, but I'm older now and it would be too much. It is interesting that it was our differences that brought us together, Balance, but the differences almost split us up. The commercial breaks in an arguement would help, for sure in keeping the buildup leading to shut-down. The Adderall has been the biggest help to me, so far...

YYZ is correct. In fact, he

YYZ is correct. In fact, he verbatim described what my DH tries (and usually fails) to explain to me. So thanks YYZ.

DH generally appears to not care. He says it's because he compartmentalizes his emotions for fear that he'll go off the deep end. I can understand that to some extent but on the other hand, he doesn't seem to care that he doesn't contribute any money to our household thus leaving me to make ends meet and stay stressed ALL THE TIME. I finally snapped last night and picked a fight by accusing him of not caring about my safety (he stays out all night and last night he took our only cell phone charger, leaving me with a dying phone) to get his attention (via text). I realized what I was doing though and just admitted to him what was really wrong. I hate to say it but this method seems more effective than just trying to have a calm conversation. He takes everything so personally, but if I accuse him of not caring about X or Y then he doesn't seem to spin up so much. His response to my anger over the money was "I'm a miserable excuse for man because I can't contribute. So I understand your frustration." It breaks my heart when he says things like that and I was quick to tell him that he wasn't. But what I don't understand is that it almost seems to easy for him to accept defeat and not work on changing things. He set to go back to school to finish his BA this fall and so all I want from him is a part-time job and $100 a week towards our bills. That would be fan-freaking-tastic. He says that he is looking for work but I don't ever see him do it. He will occasionally say that he has applied for a job, but seriously...he has been working in a bar as a DJ for peanuts for year and a half. The stupid woman barely remembers to pay him and I don't see a dime because it goes to his vastly overdue phone bill, gas, food, and energy drinks. It's so d*mn frustrating. I wonder sometimes if he sees jobs and says, "I need to apply for that" and then doesn't follow through. I told him last night that I didn't understand how he could be so hard on himself and yet not take an afternoon to go up and down the highway near our house looking for a job at Target or something. It seems so simple. But instead he focuses all of his energy on his pool team, which I try to supportive of, but when I see that he doesn't have time to do things that so clearly affect me, it's upsetting.

To answer your question, Haps--I would count your DP's response as a small victory. At least he is verbalizing. Some can't even get to that point. He obviously cares about you if he took the time to say that. My DH has "fled" before...mentally and somewhat physically. He lost his job (and his whole existence) two days before we were married. Consequently, he just checked out. He would sleep all day, not bother with trying to look for work...that went on for about four months before he got a job through his dad. And then it started with the unaccountability in regards to where he was going, where he had been. Fortunately, he's grown out of that. He's pretty good about telling me where he's going or calling/texting if he makes an unexpected stop.

Hang in there. It sounds like you and your DP are moving in the right direction.


I am also guilty of the not contributing enough to the household, and cannot for the life of me figure out how to get more work.

I have never NOT had a job, except for the first few weeks after each of my C-sections, but DH has complained over the last 5 years since the kids were born that i am not contributing enough.

now, before we had kids, I had a full-time job and earned more than he did when he was an adjunct.  Then we relocated for his first job, to a place that was very affordable and I had my own business and we were doing fine.... but...I was not very aggressive about building/expanding my business. then we had our first daughter and moved again - to a more expensive city, but still affordable.  One day we had a big discussion about finances and DH got very upset and told me I needed to step up and find more work (at this point I was a stay at home mom with a 2 year old and was 8 months pregnant with #2 and I was only contributing $200/month to our household.)  I was stunned, as I thought given my circumstances I was doing pretty well, and who the f*ck was going to hire a woman who was 8 months pregnant???  He told me I had no ambition, no motivation.... this really really hurt.  I DID have dreams I DID have goals... but never seemed to reach them and always blamed it on moving around so much and always having to start over.  and there I was pregnant and totally unemployable anyway, so I was devastated.

Now we live in an INSANELY expensive city and we are losing money because of my failure to find a real job.  DD#1 is in school, but I was home with DD#2 for 2 years while freelancing.  My income varies wildly, some months i'll make $200, some I make $1000 -  I take DH2 to my gigs so I don't LOSE money paying a sitter.  So, the only time I'm away from my daughter is when I  teach at a school and CANNOT bring a toddler with me.  Working at this job is my 'vacation'.  I am happiest at this job because I am finally able to spend 5 hours straight with no one crying at me, no one breaking things or upsetting clients and I have the use of both my hands.  The 40 minutes I spend commuting on the subway/bus each was are heaven.  I can read.  I can listen to music - in fact it is the only time (except for my morning run when I can get one in) that I am ABLE to listen to music, because DH hates the music I like.  Unfortunately though, this is a very part time gig and it's ended for the school year.

I am wiped out at the end of the day.  By the time I get the kids to bed and clean up the mess in the kitchen and put away everyone else's mess it's almost midnight, the meds have worn off and I can't do anything productive.  I've tried and tried to do job searching stuff in the afternoon while DD2 takes a nap, but her naps got shorter and shorter and most days now they don't happen.  I really shouldn't be posting on this site, because she IS asleep, and perhaps I COULD go online and try for the 400th time to relearn Powerpoint so that I can apply for temp jobs again, but my older daughter is out of school and is home and I can't really do anything requiring too much concentration anyway.  plus it's hot, i'm jet-lagged from a trip we took last week (and DH2 has been getting up at 5am).  My brain doesn't work at all right now.  aaaaand i'm rambling....

but - what i'm trying to say is that i relate to the paralysis of needing to get work and just. not. doing. it.... why?  well, if I knew that I could make a ton of money telling the rest of y'all what to do, eh?