Feeling helpless and desperate....

Hello everyone,

I have been reading on this site on and off for about a year or so now.  I have never been one to post on any forums but now I am in desperate need of help and some kind of encouragement from people who are experienced.  I did recently purchase Melissa's book and have also gotten Dr. Hallowell's book, Driven from Distraction though I'm not done reading either yet.

I guess I'll try to explain my situation and see what you all think.  I know my wife has read this blog and forums on occasion so I suppose if she sees this she'll probably figure out that it's me.  Hi Honey.  I love you.

Anyways, we have been married for 7 years.  Most of which I think we both could agree were wonderful.  After our daughter was about 3 years old I started seeing some things in her behavior that were concerning.  These behavioral issues were really familiar to me and I started to see many of my own issues in her.  The older she got, the more apparent it became.  After doing some research it wasn't long before I realized that it could be ADHD.  It also explained much of why i struggled so much as a child with making friends and fitting in.  But the attention span and hyperactivity really drove it home for me.  I have always had difficulty with my attention (reading, homework, listening) and i was always very hyper as a child and still can be as an adult at times.  But to summarize, I got tested and it was confirmed that I had ADHD a few years back.  About a year later, my daughter was also diagnosed as well.  

By then, I was really starting to beat myself up about it and felt horrible about this curse that i had passed onto my daughter.  Around the same time as this came to light, my son was born.  With that, we had also just purchased a house, were already getting over our head in credit card debt from my impulsive spending habits, and my daughters behavior was starting to become difficult to handle.  Add to that many sleepless nights and exhaustion from my son waking during the night.  The stress levels were really beginning to mount and would only grow from there.  I had also started taking Adderall at this time and it was really helping me (mostly at work though), however when it wore off I had mood swings and was really tired.  I tried getting my Family Doctor to give me something for the evenings but i got nowhere with that.  And I should also mention that i was taking anti-anxiety meds for the past 10 years at fairly low dose for tension headaches and mild anxiety.

During all of this, my wife and I also began fighting more and more.  Mostly about stupid things that I could not let go.  I was defensive about everything and had to win every argument.  I would raise my voice and many times yell in front of the kids.  My poor wife had asked me time and time again not to do this but I could not get control.  The stresses of our finances, problems with our daughter's behavior, grudges against my in-laws, constant bickering, lack of sleep and motivation to do chores were all mounting up.  I believe all of this contributed to my downward spiral but my ADHD was at the root of it I think.  

My dear wife tried many many times for a couple of years to get my attention and get me to snap out of it, but i only got worse.  The anger, frustration, and stress continued to grow between us and we both gradually become different.  I lost sight of what was really important and became jaded with everything.  My horrible spending habits continued to rack up debt.  I began to alienate my in-laws more and more.  Our sex life began to dwindle as well as the affection.  She tried so hard to pull me back up and open my eyes.  I did not see the pain i was causing her and I said many hurtful things that I would later come to regret and she would not forget.  

Eventually, I started to see the writing on the wall and began the process to try and turn things around.  I found a good therapist and have been going once a week.  I dumped the family doctor in favor of a psychiatrist who increased my meds to the proper dosages.  I started reading more and more to try and learn how to fix myself in hopes that I could become a better person, father, and husband.  Unfortunately though, it was too late.  Our home is close to being foreclosed on and my wife has now separated from me.  We are sharing time with the kids and still talk every day.  We still love each other very much and we both would like for things to work out.

It's been about 6 weeks since we separated and I have been on a mission to turn my life around.  Every chance I get, I try to do good by my wife and others.  I am happy as a school child every chance I get to see her and hug her.  A soft peck on the lips feels so wonderful yet hurts so bad at the same time because it is time to leave and go back to my house.  My attempts at affection beyond that are no longer solicited though.  She has closed herself off to me to a certain extent.  She has built a defensive perimeter around her heart and will not let me back in.  Although she acknowledges all of the good things she sees me doing now, she still reminds me that she wanted this to happen when she was trying to get my attention for the past several years.  Is it too late?  She does not have any answers for me as to if or when she can let me back in her heart.  It hurts so bad that I let her down and I hate myself for letting things get to this point.

I never again want to be that asshole that I have been.  Nothing will stop me from becoming the best man I can be for myself and my family.  People change for the worse sometimes, but there is no reason why someone can't change back or do better than ever before.  I refuse to let my ADHD and anxiety screw up my life anymore.  Anything it takes...

But, sadly my poor wife is an unknown at this point.  Too much hurt may have caused irreparable damage now.  She said she hopes that she can one day open herself up to me again and give this marriage another shot, but she is not sure.  She's not ready to call it quits completely but to me it's not looking very promising. Then again, I am VERY impatient.  Right now, all she wants from me is time and space to try and heal.  I'm struggling to not push her or pursue too much but it's so hard.  I can't just let go.  I'm scared and anxious.  I can't imagine my life without her now.  I love her so much and have sworn to never again become that person who caused all this.  There is nothing I can do now but let her come back to me if and when she is ready.  Being the impatient problem solver that I am makes this so much harder.  I just want to fix it but I can't.

So that's it in a nutshell.  I've probably got a lot of the timeline of events mixed up and left out some important things (thanks ADHD!) but hopefully that will do.  I know this is already a lot to read so if you are still with me, thank you!

My questions to you all, and hopefully Melissa and George if you read this:

Does anyone have any success stories they could share where you have brought your marriage back from the dead (even divorce or separation)?  If so, were you feeling as hopeless as I?  What did you do to turn the tides? 

What about those non-ADHD spouses out there that have been able to accept your partner back into your heart after being on the brink?  Any words of encouragement?

My wife is not open to marriage counseling or going to therapy for herself either.  She also may have slight PTSD from a traumatic experience that happened to her a long time before we ever met.  She has told me that this traumatic experience is at some level affecting her ability to trust me again with her heart.  Though, it is in no way related to me or anything that I have ever done.

I am planning to highlight passages in Melissa's book for her to read that I think she may benefit from if i can get her to do so.  

So to wrap things up, if anyone has any encouraging words, tips, or wisdom to share, I would be very grateful.  Thanks for reading!


It will take time

I am a non-ADHD spouse and I appreciated reading your post. My relationship is currently in a rocky place so my comment is not from having made it through the storm. Yet. But if I wrere your wife I would think these efforts now on your part may not stay around and that you're trying harder because you guys are separated. So it will take time for her to see that you are continuing to try. I think that she cares about you a lot and she's confused. If she feels like me, she feels like she's failing the relationship and herself to separate but she is feeling very worn out from years of dealing with relationship issues. She might still love you, but may not feel safe with you. And I mean safe emotionally. Failed expectations and previous attempts at fixing things that haven't worked make it hard to open up her heart to you, at least right now. I wouldn't give her the book with highlighted pages. Tell her you read the book and share that you have more understanding of her side from reading it. Give her a copy of the book in case she would like to read it. The highlighted passages might come off as controlling or she may not be open minded to reading parts that you marked. If you are not in therapy, you should go. She might be willing to go with you at some point in the future and meanwhile you're working through your own issues. If you're already going I would tell her that and that you're going to continue even she won't go with you.
OneMoreChance's picture

time....goes by so slowly

Hi Willow,

Thank you for your response.  You are very insightful about all of this.  I'm so glad i posted this last night because I really needed to talk to people who understand what my wife and i are going through.

You are exactly right about my wife not being sure that my efforts are permanent.  That is one of her concerns that she has told me about.  I'm not worried about that though because I have committed myself to never going back to the old ways.  I realize at this point that those are only words to her and that i will need to prove it to her by being consistent.  But the only way she will really know if it is true is if we get back together and try again.  Therein lies the problem.  I don't know if she will ever be able to bring herself to try again.  This is the part that kills me so much and causes me anxiety every day.  Not knowing if I will ever get my wife back.  But I probably deserve it for what I put her through.  She went for years not knowing if I'll ever change and now that I have snapped out of it, it may be too late.  If I was a religious person I would pray to God for a second chance and swear on the Holy Bible to never fail her again.

I will take your advice and not highlight the book for her.  It does seem like it could be viewed as controlling.  Although that's not the case.  I was only going to do that because my wife really doesn't like to read books and I was trying to make it easier for her.  I guess when she's ready to try again I can share some of the insight that I find in the book to help us "try different".

I am still in therapy, yes.  I go once a week and it has really been helping me.  I wish I had gone and started that a long time ago.  I've been kind of anti-social for a long time (changing that now) and as a typical guy don't share too much of my personal feelings with many people.  But this has been a great way to learn to open up and talk about my feelings.  It's amazing how much better I understand myself just from talking about it.  ADHD can really make understanding ones own thoughts very difficult because there is always so much information being processed at once most of the time.  I find that writing is a great way to do that as well.  I communicate so much better through writing too.

Anyways, as Cher once said...."If I could turn back time.  If I could find a way.  I'd take back those words that have hurt you...".  But, unfortunately, time only goes forward and very slowly for me these days.  LOL.

Thanks again!


Keep moving forward

I cannot stress that enough.  Your post sounds so similar to my life I had hoped at first you were my husband.  I, however, filed for divorce yesterday--at his request, though I'm not sure if he truly wants it.  We were married for 14 years, separated for 6 months, but he refuses to continue marriage counseling.  I think as well that he stopped his medication and going to see his therapist.  Doors were opened, and he wants to keep them closed--that is my perspective anyway.  He made amazing changes, but the progress was incredibly slow and the selfish/impulsive actions pushed me away.

The only thing you can do is to plod along and move forward with yourself.  If you do this, your wife will feel the changes.  You have to rebuild your trust with her and most importantly, show her that you truly do care about her.  

Congratulations on your efforts!