Feeling confused and deflated, advice needed

Finding myself so confused and deflated, and completely unsure what to do. I've posted on here a couple of times only but have taken a lot of heart from the many posts I've read over the last year or so. I've been married for 20 years to a man who was diagnosed adhd a year ago at the age of 48. Together we've faced a lot of big challenges, particularly in the last 8 to 10 years. DH is an alcoholic who has been sober nearly 4 years after some really close calls. He's been involved with numerous women over the past 8 years as well, acting out with both emotionally and physically relationships. The most recent one is ongoing - coming on to 5 years now, off and on. Two and a half years ago my father passed away after an intense year and a half long battle with cancer. I was responsible for a lot of the support and big decisions for my parents during that time. I confronted DH about the most recent affair the same weekend that I had to put my dad into palliative care. The illness was excruciating for my dad and also excruciating for those of us who had to watch it. I couldn't handle the pain of my father's illness and the pain of my DH's infidelity at the same time so I packed DH's bags and made him leave. It was a lonely and painful time - I am so not even close to healed from that winter.

Two years ago, sixth months after my dad's death, DH came home at his request. I, foolishly, picked him up from the girlfriend's apartment - he had been boarding in a house for the 7 months of our separation, not staying with her, but the term of his lease was up and so he went to her house for the day because he "had nowhere else to go." Now, 2 years later, their relationship is as strong as ever while ours is falling to pieces. There have been so many aha moments and ups and downs in the meantime: he's been in and out of counseling with 2 different therapists, he joined, and then left, a support group for sex addiction, I've been mostly regularly seeing a therapist, we've had couples therapy but only occasionally, he realized last spring that he has adhd and sought a diagnosis (which was temporarily liberating and uplifting), he was on meds for a few months then decided to quit without talking to me, etc. and on and on. He's pulled away from the girl and then pulled away from me instead, and back and forth. At times I've felt that I'm in a marriage with a man who is working so incredibly hard to get his feet under him, who is honest with me and respectful of me and of himself, that I can begin to trust and be open, and so on. At other times I think what on earth am I doing? This is one of the latter times.

He becomes angry with me constantly, turning away and refusing to talk with me, leaving the house for hours, sleeping in the guest room for days or weeks at a time. Since he went off meds in February he's spent more days avoiding me than being with me. One of his "best" coping strategies is to project and that's one of the things that's happening right now. The thing is, he's so incredibly brilliant that he projects onto me his problems, but only when there's at least a grain of truth or accuracy about them. For example, he's been taking his intimacy away from our marriage and sharing it with someone else but his response whenever I express that I am upset is to say that I never share myself and true feelings with him. Well, sure I don't! First of all, you've betrayed my trust over and over and over again (of course if I actually say that out loud, he's out the door) and second, my own protective coping strategy in life is to shut down, and the thing is that I've had lots of cause to protect myself! 

He's so filled with shame and self-righteous anger, and the two take turns in presenting themselves. He can immerse himself in either of those feelings and then the only thing that makes him feel better is contact with that woman. He realized last year that, when he thinks of her, he feels just as high as if he was on his 2nd or 3rd pint of beer - the dopamine reaction. For a while then he stayed away from her but now he's forgotten that he had realized that. Good grief.

I get and agree with all of Melissa's advice, I take great pains not to react and it's all good with respect to the little stuff. But wow this is so not the little stuff and I feel like the world's greatest most incredible fool. My DH just informed me, a couple of hours ago, that he's going to go this summer, during our holiday, drive 11 hours and spend the night camping near the spot she'll be working, and then drive her here to our city the next day. I calmly said that, since she's just "a friend" (the relationship stopped being physical 3 and a half years ago because she decided to stop that aspect of it) then I should be a part of a summer jaunt to this lovely spot. He said I wasn't welcome. Really. My response was indeed calm - I said that wasn't okay and indeed not normal, that we are married and so for him to take a trip during our vacation with another woman was not what married people do. He interrupted to say, once again, that I don't share myself with him. I said not to do that to me, meaning that he shouldn't interrupt me to throw an accusation at me, and he left the room. I followed and simply continued what I had been saying only to have him tell me that he had stopped listening several minutes ago. I freaked. I'm so so so tired of being treated like that. 

He accused me of only ever being "okay" and smiley, which to him is a bad thing because he can't see how anyone can live in the moment and simply be happy and so therefore I must be "faking" it which makes me insincere and phony, and dramatically overreactive in his opinion. I am absolutely a dramatically reactive person, but, given the circumstances, am I overreacting? I don't think so. But then I seem to have no choice but to either disengage and be blamed for removing intimacy from our marriage, or else freak out and be blamed for that too. Here's the real kicker: he doesn't seem to remember the many times I've shared with him, gifted him with trust, forgiven him, accepted him, and opened up to him, even when I remind him of those moments and conversations - I HATE this faulty filing system!!!! I just wind up deep in a pity party, feeling so many ways a fool, and then I've got to get up every morning, put on my game face, and go to work. I come home to an empty house and then an empty bed and then he blames me. Tonight I asked why on earth he had been so insistent that we reconcile two years ago, why is he even here? How I so often wish he would just go, just leave. I have tried to make myself move out but can't put our 16 year old through that again. But I feel such a loser - what am I going to do, just sit here while he goes off gallivanting with his girlfriend this summer? How can I do that? And what has happened to the cozy, loving, fun and adventurous relationship I thought I was signing up for all those years ago?

Now he's said that the reason he's mad this week is because I posted on facebook on father's day that I really missed my dad and that I feel fortunate to have been his daughter. DH said that "broke his heart" not because he empathized with my pain, no, but because I put it on facebook but I allegedly don't share my grief with him. So he stopped talking to me again this week and then planned a trip with his girlfriend. Have I fallen down the rabbit hole? Thanks for reading,

Stuck and confused


He is manipulating you (maybe

He is manipulating you (maybe even gaslighting you). You don't want to keep stuffing this or it will negatively affect your health, your sanity and who you are. It doesn't help your child or you or your husband to keep the status quo. He is a two-timing, self-centered jerk. Him being a jerk is not your fault. Him two-timing on his marriage promises is not your fault. No wife should put up with what you are going through.  No family can be happy and secure and thriving with someone like him. It seems he feels entitled just because he DARES to be manipulative. Isn't he smart to have his cake and eat it too and when things get tough for him he uses his whiles and talk to get back into your life? He is not working to have a happy marriage and family. He doesn't deserve a family.  His childish irresponsibility is casting a pitiable angst on your household.  Show everyone what the truth looks like.  It will settle down to be not as bad as the pretending you are probably doing now. I am so sorry that this is your reality.  Even if everything would magically turn around from this moment on (which it never will), you will never be able to trust him or feel loved by him because you know he is capable of these things.  I say this as much for myself as for you. What is keeping you stuck?

agree with jennalemon

Sirena,  You can not change him but you can do something about yourself. Start thinking about your son and your own  wellbeing. It's time to give yourself a break, it's time for you to be happy. 



are you putting up with all that for,can't you see he is having his cake and eat it too..when things go bad with the woman he is with you..and when things go bad with you he runs back to her..this type of life and marriage is not normal. Nobody's perfect,,even I have been having some woman issues with my  husband but no cheating yet..I have not seen him with no one else or heard he has someone else..at least not now..but he would go down that road eventually,,,sad to say...and I would be gone..I would not stay...I hate to share someone I love..that is soo wrong..I think from what you post that he is maybe using you for a place to stay? either that or he want the best of both worlds...my H lived a similar life like that with his ex wife when he use to charter his boat,,while she was home with the baby..he out there with all the hot women in the ocean...such a nasty man...I find that to be disgusting..urggg! I would not stay with him now if he was still doing that,,but I am close to moving on almost every month..

don't stay with such a resentful man,he sounds rather shameful and looking for ways to have the best of you and her...if you say he is moving to go spend the summer with her...let him go ,,,and change the locks on your doors...he would always treat you with disrespect b/c you keep allowing it..you have to put a stop to this NOW!! and if you don't he would always have you like this...your daughter would be happy any which way..that would always be her father,,sometimes it is worse when a marriage is falling apart to have the kids in the middle of it..it's best if he go..both you and her would be better off without him..trust me...you said he keeps coming and going....then if he leaves for good then that should not be hard for you...

find back your happiness and peace...I wish you the best..


Sirena, I don't envy the

Sirena, I don't envy the place you are in. I'm very sorry that you are caught in this situation. I truly think that your husband is not the type to respond to logical, non-confrontational conversation. It is clear that he is incredibly selfish; he should have nothing to do with his old girlfriend...he would have nothing to do with her if he loved you and respected your marriage. The comments about the grief you felt on Father's Day would have been the breaking point. Are you staying because of your child? If you are, you're not doing him/her any favors. You need to, above all, show your child that you have respect for yourself. You deserve so much more than his infidelities and emotional abuse (that's what it is--manipulation, etc.) No one can blame you for not trying--do what's best for your and your child. If it means asking your husband to leave or not come back after he goes off to see the girlfriend or to change the locks while he is gone--do whatever it takes to move on. After 20 years of marriage, you're a saint. I don't think that Melissa's book or advice can be used when someone is so flagrantly disregarding of another's feelings. 

ADHD is not your husband's problem. Selfishness and sex addiction is. Even my hubby (who's ADHD) says that ADHD shouldn't be used as crutch to explain bad behaviors...that ADHD does not create problems, it only exacerbates problems are already existing. So yes, he may have even less control with the ADHD, but the problem is still there and if he's not willing to love himself (or you and your child) enough to aggressively pursue treatment, then there is little hope for change.

I am usually the last person to suggest divorce. We live in a disposable society...it's not a good thing. I stuck by my hubby's side because I loved him...even when he hurt me with some of his behaviors....I couldn't leave. BUT he had the willingness to change and continues to pursue treatment. That simple act is what makes all the difference.

Good luck to you. And I'm sorry about your dad. I lost my grandpa (who was like a father to me) in April to complications from Pancreatic cancer. Father's Day was hard for me too.

Hang in there.

I'm so sorry about your

I'm so sorry about your grandpa. My dad had pancreatic cancer too. 

You're right. I guess one thing I've struggled with is that the first 10 years of the marriage, while they had some bumps, large and small but infrequent, were not like this. He had symptoms of his issues but they did not control his life at the time. He generally treated me wonderfully, if with some forgetfulness and occasional disregard of the level of forgetting to pick me up at an appointed time and arriving a few minutes late. Nothing like this at all. It's really been the last few years that have been awful. But it's been this way long enough that it's getting hard to remember the old way.

What a talented manipulator

You are correct -- he is projecting his faults onto you. Thus the conversation can be steered toward YOU and away from him. Nothing will ever get solved, and you will never be heard by a person who is actually getting his needs met by the chaos he causes.

You are willing to examine your part of the relationship and you assume he is acting in good faith too, albeit misguided. He is not.  Let me repeat this: He is not acting in good faith. These are the actions of a person with no conscience and no inclination to change. You are a convenience for him, not a real person with real feelings who wants the best for both of you.

If you like to read, "The Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evan will open your eyes to what is really going on. I was shocked when I had to face the fact that my ex actually knew what he was doing -- he was not doing it out of ignorance.

You are correct - this is not little stuff. I suspect some of the abusive types of husbands in this site have serious personality disorders as well as ADHD. They will not improve using the advice in the book.

Trust your instincts! You are not confused; you have this man summed up very accurately!!! It is just too hard for you to believe, however, because you are not that type of person and have trouble realizing that not everyone wants to be a better person or do the right thing! Start reading books on abuse to shore up your suspicions because it is hard to get support from others who are not seeing everything from the inside. His goal is to keep you off balance so you can be easily manipulated, and he is good at it.

thanks for book suggestion

I read parts of the book you suggested on Amazon. Parts of it definitely apply to our relationship but some aspects I didn't identify with. What I did really like was the list of potential responses, such as, "Stop." , "What did you say?", "Would you mind repeating that",  or my personal favorite, "You are not me and don't know what/who I am." I've been practicing saying them so they become second nature and next time he attempts to lay his issues at my doorstep I can hopefully keep my cool a little longer. It'll be fun to put a kink in his trigger ;)

anyone experiencing life with ADHD AND addictions?

Thanks, everyone, for all of the comments, and indeed my DH is a talented manipulator. And a narcissist (which the addictions counsellor he used to see told him and we both agreed with that diagnosis) and an addict (which he has actually worked very hard on the last 4 years, with lots of gains but lots and lots of slips) and a passive aggressive (which he spent several months working on by himself and with his counsellor last year before "forgetting" that he was trying to learn how to stop being passive aggressive)

Meanwhile, I do 100% agree: I deserve to be happy and to take care of myself, need to role model strength for my daughters, and don't do DH any favors if I take care of him. I've actually worked really hard the last 6 years or so, reading about codependency, receiving lots of counseling for myself as well as couples counseling, learning about how I affect and am affected by his addictions, learning to (usually) step outside of the effects of his addictions and to guide our kids in doing the same, learning to pray for peace, serenity, and guidance, and now learning everything I can about ADHD. The growth in my own life apart from my marriage relationship has been phenomenal: I've triggered improvement in the relationship I had with my mother by drawing boundaries. I am rather a different person at work than I used to be, quite outspoken while still being respectful and it has made my already enjoyable job even more enjoyable. Our daughters, 16 and 20, have a super close relationship with me and as close a relationship with their dad as his disordered personality can allow - their eyes are open as to who he is and who I am, and we're able to have frank discussions about our family and its dynamics. They've created the type of relationship with their dad during the past 2 or 3 years that I didn't have the maturity or wherewithall to create 20 years ago whereby they simply tell him off when he crosses a line and he backs off. They're fabulous kids! The 20 year old often reminds me that I deserve everything wonderful that happens to me and none of the bad. She also is able to honestly tell her dad she loves him. I'm not sure if I'm describing well enough the dynamic that I see with them, but I'm proud to know that the learning that I've done in the last few years and the changes I've made to strengthen myself triggered that in my kids, rather than my simply modeling codependent behaviour for them. Anyway, back to me and my marriage...

What's challenging here is this: I've read the advice books for recovery from infidelity, and we simply did not fit the patterns. The advice in those books just made me crazy! Then we discovered the concept of sex and love addiction. We both worked hard to get informed, involved the counselor we were both seeing at the time in treated that affliction (DH had recently stopped drinking after nearly killing himself so addiction was very much a hot topic) and we each entered a 12 step program, for sex addicts and partners of sex addicts. He hasn't simply been carrying on the same old behaviors throughout all this time. Overall, he's stopped most of the addictive behaviors over time. He's stopped the extramarital relationship 3 times, the most recently after realizing that he was literally feeling the sensation of dopamine coursing through his brain when her name was mentioned. He thought that would be it - that realization would bring relief, but realization is only the first step and, although DH certainly knows how to work hard, he definitely does not know how to sustain hard work. So, after a period of abstinence from texting, skyping, and emailing with this girl, during which time he sought counseling and sought the diagnosis of ADHD and began treatment (this was last summer/fall), something happened, some kind of job disappointment or something and he fell off the wagon, again. He had been treating the ADHD, changing lifestyle (diet, exercise, routine), following a blog for support, using inspiration software to organize hiw thoughts and his day, going to a regular counselor, taking Dexedrine (fail on the doctor's part, in my opinion, gave him uncomfortable side effects and she just poo-pooed them; the side effects later provided an excuse to stop taking meds this past Feb), and sharing honest thoughts and feelings with me. This past Jan/Feb I was happier and calmer than I've been in years. Then, poof, he dropped the ball. I think that was where addiction/narcissism/whatever kicked in and he realized he was at a turning point and would have to once and for all give up the relationship with the girl, leaving him "alone." He can't maintain a friendship because of his lack of memory and his immature interpersonal skills - he had loads of "pals" but no real friends. I work 40+ hours a week for 10 months of the year and can't/won't be around to hold his hand. In my opinion, he freaked out and dropped the treatment so he could continue spending time with the girl. 

His periods of lucidity, though, are why I'm still here. I have gotten a job where I make considerably more than he does. I have friends and interests. I already booted him out of the house once and know that, if I have to, I can and will do it again. When he's lucid, he does work hard, he speaks respectfully to me and listens to what I have to say. He has truly shown remorse, although there's something I'm realizing I haven't seen for a long time. He has been honest with me and has worked hard with me. It's just that there is no way I can count on him to do/maintain those things.

Bottom line, I know I can't count on him for anything, from mowing the lawn without a reminder to remembering and honoring his most recent decision to treat symptoms and be honest with me. I have been able to live comfortably, for the time being, with that knowledge, armed with the tools that I have learned of letting his stuff be his, caring for myself and my own life and relationships, disengaging from his attempts to create chaos, etc. The ongoing emotional affair: when he moved back into the house 2 years ago I knew that wasn't over but that the physical part was, and it is. Lucid husband is unfailingly honest with me, it's the Mr. Hyde who lies, so I get intermittent "full disclosure" should I desire to have it. He's given it up twice since then and then slipped back. Now, however, he's asserted this intention to go this summer to a place where she'll be working, a 8+ hour trip, camp overnight near where she'll be, in order to drive her here to our city to visit her friends. I didn't react emotionally, simply said hmm, interesting. You're planning a 2 day drive during our holiday time together (I'm a teacher) so obviously you'd like me to be part of that little mini-holiday? He said no I wasn't welcome so I told him that was messed up, still calmly. It was at that point that he got angry and pulled out his manipulative tools, like a little kid having a tantrum because he knows he absolutely in the wrong. Pathetic behavior. I'm sad to say that I forgot to just laugh at him for his ridiculousness, and at that point I did react emotionally. The man knows my buttons. 

I'm 98% sure that, if he actually goes on that little trip, he'll come home to papers from my lawyer. I've called the lawyer before, I can do it again. Once again standing on the edge of the tipping point.

I wish it just felt simple - I believed 20 years ago that I knew exactly what the deal breakers would be, but then I never believed I'd experience most of what I have the last few years, especially after the way DH courted me in the beginning and for the first several years of our marriage! 

Wow, I ramble, but there's an awful lot in my head. I'm grateful for this place to empty it out! If anyone has exerience with addiction as well as ADHD I'd love to hear from you.