Denial..."I'm OK...There's Nothing Wrong With Me"

I'm taking some time off from the forum to tend to other things for a while.  My wife and I have reached a point where we are now communicating well including )but certainly not limited too) topics involving areas where we run into conflicts.  This is in a large part due to me learning more about denial and other defense mechanisms and how it effects not only communicating with another person but memory itself.  This is NOT exclusive to ADHD by the way...but I think for a person who falls into the category of being so much in denial that these defenses and means for self protection ( of the ego and for self esteem ) that they have become a  chronic pattern/problem in their lives......we (poeple with ADHD) are probably more likely to have some problems in this area.

Basing this on myself as just one example......if all you hear is criticism and your own experiences growing up and throughout your life are negative when it concerns some of the things that are most affected by ADHD ( forgetfulness and absent mindedness, organization, consistency, getting started and staying on track as just a few examples)....there comes a point in time especially when you are older and are still experiencing some of the same issues you had (or ones you might would attribute to ) a much younger person or a child. Think about this in terms of yourself if you knew this was happening but yet try as you might to overcome these things....nothing you do seems to correct them or make them any better over time. In my case....I knew nothing about ADHD and by default...you learn other strategies to get around these problems and the first and easiest way to do this is by becoming defensive and self protective.  The key words to remember here are criticism, negativity, hostility, anger, judgment, shunning and put downs.  In my own personal arsenal of information and self awareness.....I have had to stay on top of  this part of myself all the time in order to watch for the times when any of my old patterns of thinking and communicating rear their ugly heads including a few that I have yet to pin down.  Without hesitation......I know they're there whether I see them or not.  That's the process of elimination and self awareness I have been on for over a decade and despite feeling comfortable in saying that I am no longer in denial....that doesn't mean the the old patterns and habits are not still with me.  It takes a lot of effort and self control to pay attention enough to find all the ways that we humans use as a defense for our self esteem.  The most difficult part about doing this is that your self esteem is going to take some hits during this process. 

In other words...without the denial and defense mechanisms that are used to bolster of maintain a certain level of self esteem (or to try to keep what's left still intact).....you are left wide open to experience the reality of your situation and if you your situation is bad to begin with.....all that's left is self protection and defense to counter what you perceive from other people at times.  Even if you aren't hypersensitive and your self esteem is doing alright in general......you still get tired of it.  As tired as other people get of the things that we do that affect them negatively as well.  This is the cycle that has to be broken for anything to change and if the person who is in defensive mode 24/7 whether it be legitimate or self imposed....that leaves you the person who is not in defensive mode to something to change this dynamic.  The hardest part on either side is when both people are operating in self protection mode at the same time.  If that's the case and neither person can see what is happening.....my bet is that this is why you are reading this right now because you are struggling to find some way to stop this horrible dynamic. 

Speaking again for myself here to give you some insight.....in all of my past relationships as a whole....the problems may have started on the side of the people who were with me (becoming frustrated or annoyed with my ADHD once they were with me long enough) but during this initial time and being in denial as it was.....I was fine until it ramped up to the point it started mimicking my past or resurrecting my childhood traumas growing up. When that began to happen each time.....this is where the trouble would begin.......that is with the exception of my wife now.  I had a fighting chance and a lot of experience behind me to tell me what I should and should not do despite my history and my internal pulls in the wrong direction.

Using this as my guide in thinking that this pattern is probably not unique to me in any way as far as ADHD is concerned.  During the hyper focus initial stages of your relationship....all is good and a lot can be overlooked and forgiven at that time....but once you on the other side begin to where thin and the natural tendencies of most people to react in some predictable ways ie: the things I already mentioned like criticism and anger to start with....that's my guess when things began to change and not return for the better.  I'm adding this into what I have read so often about the relationship (or the person) changing dramatically after this time.  Without going to far down this train of thought.....I think a large part of this has to do with the very thing I'm talking about here not any of the other speculations or conclusions that I have read about the reasons why this is?  I'm saying this only as one major part not the entire reason.  This is an important thing to consider here and why I brought this up.  Without judgment of my own an in an effort to find solutions to help.....taking a hard look at your own input into these changes and noticing how you may have changed by simply increasing the number, frequency or intensity of the things I mentioned would certainly trigger a person going into full defensive posture kicking in and all that goes with it. 

In the case of ADHD and denial.....this is going to take on a life of it's own and the person who you are with will most likely start behaving in some bizarre and seemingly unusual ways that you may not have seen before that time.  This is my take on the so called "change" you see in a person like this.  In reality....what has changed is only the list of defensive mechanisms that are now kicking into full swing that come from a lifelong learned pattern of denial and not knowing any better.

I ran across a wonderful list and explanations of the ways people do this. It's about a complete as list as I have seen so I thought it would be helpful for anyone else who is experiencing a partner that is in denial and being able to spot the myriad of ways we all use to protect ourselves from painful thoughts and emotions.

If you were wondering and asking yourself..." WTF is he/she doing?"  You should go to this link: http://www.emotionalcompetency.com/distortions.htm