Where to begin? Ahh, perhaps the beginning:
I was diagnosed with ADD in my mid-20s when I only had two toddlers and was a navy wife stationed hundreds of miles from family, friends, and support. I was overwhelmed and not keeping up with domestic tasks. I was placed on Adderall with no therapies. It raised my BP so my PCM placed me on wellbuterin. That gave me migraines. After becoming frustrated with my PCM over constant ineffective med changes and all the side effects that came with them, I gave up and learned to cope on my own.
Four years ago my husband retired and we moved close to my mother. I was now older (wiser?) and aware of my limits. Our entire family had difficulties transitioning to civilian life. The loss of our military community and its resources took a toll on all of us. My husband enrolled full-time in college, I enrolled part time in art school. My two toddlers were now in high and middle school, while our youngest only in second grade. Our eldest started cutting. Our middle was diagnosed with ASD and refused therapy. Our youngest had difficulty relating to peers and making friends. My husband was diagnosed with severe PTSD accompanied with depression and placed on Zoloft.
Then, everything fell completely apart.
Last summer my husband disengaged from our family. I failed to reel him in regardless of any angle I tried. My clientel was growing rapidly. The kids were doing much better. I, without realizing, hyperfocused on every aspect of my art: webinars, art school, building my business, and trying so hard to please clients. At the end of summer I found out my husband had an emotional affair. We had just celebrated 18 years of marriage and the affair partner 12 years younger than my husband. Devastating does not even begin to describe.
In true ADHD fashion my emotions sky rocketed: despair, anger, incredible sadness, and an urgency to find and fix whatever was wrong. I couldn't control anything: my words, my thoughts, my emotions, my actions. I said hateful things that I immediately regretted the moment they left my lips. I cried. I screamed. I wailed. I slept all the time and never at all. Some days I'd wake up to get the kids off to school, return to bed only to be awoken when my daughter returned home that afternoon. Others I was awake for more than 40 hours before I could find slumber. It was all unfamiliar and completely uncontrollable. It seemed the more I tried, the more I failed.
A few months after my discovery, real conversation started taking place between my husband and I. It felt like blaming. He said I made him feel unloved and abandoned. He said I didn't hear him or acknowledge what he was telling me. He said I didn't touch him anymore. He said I was unavailable. I didn't understand. I had been trying my hardest all summer to get him to reengage with us. He pushed me away. What did he mean I wasn't there, that I had abandoned him? He explained my art took too much of my attention away from him. That my school felt more important. He said I put too much on his plate: the kids, the laundry, the housework, the animals. He said he felt stretched to his limit as it was with a 40+ hour work week and full time classes.
I quit. I quit it all. I knew I had difficulties what I called, "balancing." I made him my priority because my marriage and my husband were so important to me. I paid attention to how much I touched him. I sat next to him while he played video games and watched sports. I took all of the housework, children, animal, household responsibilities back. I made his coffee and brought it to him. I cooked his breakfast. Yet, nothing seemed to change on his end. And I was left feeling like a maid.
I asked him why he hadn't changed. I wanted to know why I was the only one making sacrifices. Was he making them too but I just couldn't see them? Then he started telling me I was embarrassing when I dropped him off at work on days I needed our only vehicle for child chauffeuring. He said it was a turnoff and completely embarrassing when I didn't wear flattering clothes and didn't wear makeup or so my hair. Why on earth should I have to get up at 5 am to to my hair and makeup and put on heels just to drive him 2 miles to work when I'm already up at 6 to get kids off to school and cater to him? All I'm going to do when I get back from dropping him off is get sweaty and hot trying to tackle 7 million loads of laundry and 800 dust bunnies and not even do that right. I came to the conclusion that he wanted me to be a person that I simply wasn't.
When I told him I was not a stepford trophy wife and I had zero desire to be one, he said that wasn't what he wanted it meant. I didn't understand. I still don't understand. I addressed feeling like a maid. He said he was sorry. I told him I felt I had no purpose. I wanted, I yearned, to be more. I'm horrible at domestic duties. I can't remember which kid needs what for school. My 17 year old will tell me he needs conditioner and my 11 year old pencils and I buy my 17 year old a binder and my 11 year old a candy bar. Who does this???? I was good at my art. It made me feel accomplished. It is literally the only thing in the world that I have never failed at. It is the only thing I truly understand and feel whole and like I'm a normal, functioning human being. He didn't get it.
I asked for marriage counseling because it became apparent we had communication issues. I felt as if everything I said fell to the wayside. Nothing stuck. And, according to him, I didn't understand and misconstrued everything he said. He dragged his feet. For months!!! My intuition went off and I started to snoop. I begged, pleaded, cried, ranted, screamed...out of control, all over again...what are you not telling me? What are you keeping from me. He said nothing. He said I was paranoid. He made me feel like I was going crazy. I lost huge blocks of time searching through his laptop, his accounts, everything. I found proof of an affair. He denied. I became so intrusive and accusing. I was at a loss. I couldn't make him be honest with me. I hated the person I had become.
I finally went to my Dr. She said I had Inattentive ADHD along with a touch of depression. She placed me on Vyvanse and eventually Zoloft. I also sought verbal therapy.
While my abilities to focus and stay on task greatly increased, there was no improvement in my marriage. I asked why he hadn't made the marriage counseling appointment. I got excuses. I laid down ultimatums. They were never fullfilled. Our arguments became yelling matches and closer together. I finally asked him to move out. He refused. He said he loved me. He said he wanted our marriage to work.
In February a co-worker of his and former client of mine sent me a message declaring her love for my husband. They had been having an affair since October. Done. I was done. Again with the uncontrollable emotions and words. The hateful verbage flew out of my mouth before I could stop it. He sat around in a hoodie, with his hood up, constantly. Every time I tried to have a call and meaningful conversation with the intention of getting to the bottom, he would shut down. I got so angry and entirely frustrated. Then last month, in the heat of the moment, he declared apologetically that I am cold, emotionally selfish and unavailable. That I never let him talk. I constantly interrupt him therefore I don't have interest in what he has to say. And again, he said I wasn't there for him. I yelled back, what do you mean? I'm right here!!! I dropped everything for you. I took everything back into my plate. I watch you play video games. I did everything you asked of me. He just shook his head and walked off.
But he did make that marriage counseling appointment. Guess what? He was right. I was emotionally selfish. I constantly interrupted not only him but everyone! He had been trying to tell me - for years!!! - that he needed me and he was lonely. I took it so literally the times I did hear him. I misconstrued mostly all of what he said. I know it doesn't excuse the choices he made to solve and he has taken complete responsibility for those choices.
I had no clue I was so socially inept. I have always been sort of a loner, not out of choice, but because I felt diminished and inferior, small, in the company of people who didn't understand my quirks and verbage. It has gotten so bad in my early 30s that I just avoided anything social. I thought I just had social anxiety. When we moved here in 2012 I tried to make friends with my kids' friends parents. I seem to put my foot in my mouth at the worst possible moment and they all eventually yet quickly backed away. Other folks seemed to treat me as if I were invisible. I got talked over. I would miss opportunities to join a conversation. I knew I had an issue understanding and interpreting how conversations were delivered. What the words really meant. I'd go over past conversations in my head over and over again. I would even ask my husband, what did they mean by ____?
In middle school I discovered myself as the third wheel to a best friend duo. I didn't date in high school. I had no idea how to flirt as an adult. I mean, the way my husband and I met and married was even blunt and to the point. A mutual friend said he thought I was cute. I walked up to him and said, "Dinner. Friday. Pick me up at 6. You're paying."
As therapy continues, I find out more and more of what my Inattentive ADHD is responsible for. I feel completely responsible for everything that went wrong in my marriage. I feel incapable, inadequate, not fit for any social interaction. I feel broken and toxic. I feel so guilty and horrible for not catching that my own husband needed me and I didn't see it. That poor man has PTSD and I failed to support him in the ways he needed me most. Then I said hateful and demeaning things that I can't take back in response to him telling me I wasn't there.
I feel so angry that I'm about to turn 40 and my marriage counselor - not my pcm, not my ADHD counselor, none of the doctors and counselors I've seen in the last 15 years - mentioned ANY of this. The only part I knew was that I couldn't concentrate, focus, or stay on task. I had no clue, until this month, that the out of control and inability to control my emotions was ADHD related. I had no earthly idea that the reason I couldn't socialize "normally" was ADHD related. I had no knowledge that the constant analyzation and over analyzation was due to my ADHD. I thought there was something wrong with me that I couldn't complete domestic tasks like a normal person. I thought I was lazy and no matter what I tried to kick the lazy out, I failed. Why does my ADHD counselor want to talk about dividing a room into fourths when she knew my marriage was falling apart? Why didn't she educate me on all of this? All I talked about was how my house was a wreck because I spent all day researching how to fix my marriage.
So here I sit, turning 40 on Tuesday with Mother's Day on Sunday, with my kids, my husband, and my mother all hounding me about how I want to spend my day and what I do I want as presents. I don't. I don't feel worthy. I have failed at being the parent and wife they needed and deserved. I feel so deflated.
My husband and I are still setting up cues for when I subject hop or I talk too fast for him to keep up. We are still trying to make adjustments according to my ineptness. He is being so patient and kind and encouraging. I feel so undeserving. But we are making progress, taking baby steps. Stopping the heavy conversation when either of us gets overwhelmed or frustrated. Tempers haven't flared. I am learning patience. I am learning to communicate at his pace. I'm picking up on the things I was previously unaware of. It is going so slow. But I know this is all going to take time.
I can't bear to look at my art equipment. I feel sick when I think about it. We need me to have an income and I just can't bring myself to make any art. In so scared of becoming hyperfocused again. I'm scared to communicate with potential clients. With everything else, it's just too much. I've been searching for a job and find I qualify for little. And none seem to fit my family or household demands. I'm scared to death out one more thing on my plate while I'm trying to learn to manage all of this newly discovered shortcomings. The last thing I want is to put something from my plate onto my husband's. So I freeze. I look at listings and save them. I talk about them and ask my husband's opinion. But I can't bring myself to apply.
So I guess I'm here for support. I guess I found "my tribe.
If you got through my real life Lifetime movie, thank you for reading. I appreciate it.