Finally Reaching Out

I have lurked for months, coming here to read when I needed to feel like I wasn't alone and also to get perspective. I will often read about the challenges some of you face and think to myself, "I can't post here. Things aren't bad enough and my complaints will be insulting to those who have real issues." I've finally decided to post because I can't hold it in anymore. I have to talk to someone. This will be long and I hope at least one person will be patient enough to read it.

My husband and I are both in our 40s. We have been married for 19 years and have been a couple for 25 years. He has always been a little on the obnoxious side and can be talkative to a fault, but he is exceedingly creative and can be a lot of fun to be around. He has a great sense of humor and used to make me laugh all the time. He has always been a hard worker, to the point of being a workaholic, and while that has helped us achieve success in our life, it has also caused problems. Before we had kids, he would say that if he could just live at the office and never have to come home, he would love it. That was hurtful to me because, even though I worked full time then, I did the bulk of the housework and made sure dinner was ready for us when he got home so that we could spend the evening together, maybe talking or watching TV. He would rush through dinner, barely stopping to talk, and then sit down in front of the TV to play video games. I had two choices. I could sit and silently watch him, because if I spoke or asked a question, he might make a mistake in his game and have to start over, and this would enrage him. My other choice was to leave the room and find something to do by myself. He would play video games until late into the night, past my bedtime, and I got used to going to bed alone. This escalated after we got internet access. We only had one computer back then and it was in a small space, so I couldn't even sit with him and watch anymore. Once we could afford two computers, I got into gaming, too, and tried to play games with him. He would often end up frustrated with my lack of skill and finally told me he'd rather play games without me. This was crushing for me because I really tried to be interested in his stuff and he shut me out anyway. But at least back then he had to go to another room and physically log on to a machine. Now he has a smart phone that he can pull out and check anytime and anywhere all day long. If I try to talk to him or ask a question when he is on his phone, which is almost all the time, he gets angry and says he is busy, but I never know if he is busy with work stuff or just checking Twitter or playing a game.

He has worked his way up in his career and that has meant long hours. It was really difficult when our kids were little. We decided before we had kids that the person who made the least would quit to stay home with the kids, and that turned out to be me, which was and is fine. But, I didn't realize I would so often be home alone with a baby and a small child until 11 or 12 at night. I suffered from post-partum depression, so the isolation and loneliness was very difficult, but he was the only breadwinner so I had to adapt. I got used to being alone and fell into a routine with my children, because even when my husband is home and around, his phone is always in his hand and whatever is on it is the top priority. The first thing he does when he wakes up in the morning is check his phone, and it accompanies him to the breakfast table. When our children ask him questions, he often doesn't respond, and I have to get his attention so he will acknowledge them. If he is asked too many questions, he will get angry and say, "Can I just do this right now?" No matter what we are doing: watching TV, watching a movie, visiting with friends or family, out at a restaurant, wherever, he is on his phone and is not present in whatever activity we are engaging in. We took our kids to the zoo for the first time in over a year a few weeks ago and he spent most of the time on his phone and pushing us to move to the next exhibit because he had seen enough. My mother was with us and I was embarrassed and ashamed of his behavior in front of her.

He was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago after he recognized a lot of behaviors in himself that our ADHD/ODD diagnosed 11 year old displayed and took it upon himself to get tested. I commended that and really thought medication would change everything for the better, but it didn't. Things have actually gotten worse, I think because he now feels he has an excuse for his behavior. What was perceived as a character flaw before is now dismissed as, "Well, my meds have worn off for the day" or "I have ADHD". He always has an excuse for ignoring me, ignoring our kids, ignoring chores and responsibilities around the house, basically ignoring anything that isn't in his wheelhouse: work, games, or Twitter. When I have told him how unhappy I feel about these things, he shrugs and says, "This is how I am." I want to tell him no, this is how you are *now*, because I never would have married you if you were always like this.

Finally, to the recent developments: he had been having a difficult time at his job and it is because the person who runs the company is really incompetent (it's a startup). I understand it is not him, though he does not make it easy for himself because when he is unhappy at a job, he makes everyone pay for it, including co-workers. About 6 months ago, the company cut everyone's pay by 25%, and we really struggled. I have always been in charge of the finances because I am the fiscally responsible one who will get the bills paid on time and keep our budget on track. He began to actively look for another job a few months ago and was initially talking about moving. I was very reluctant to do this because our oldest daughter struggles socially and seemed to be fitting in at school for the first time in years. Then he told me all of the jobs he was looking at were located outside of the US (one was in Sweden) and I told him I couldn't leave the country, that he didn't understand what that would mean: visas for all of us, having to sell all our possessions, giving our pet away, selling our car and house, etc. Things improved some at his job (salary went back up to 100% in February) but we didn't know how long that would last. The last I heard, he had talked to the owner of another startup that was doing very well and had a possible in at that company. Then, about a month ago, at about 11 pm, he asked me if he could tell me something about his job. I told him I was tired and was it something that could wait until the morning. He said yes and that was that. The next morning, over breakfast, he told me he was quitting his job that day to start his own business. That same day. I was stunned. This was something that could wait until the morning?! When I asked that very question, he just said, "Well, I wanted you to get one more good night of sleep."

Over the past few weeks, I have alternated between despair and rage. It is a real effort for me to appear normal in front of our children and I don't know what I am going to do in two weeks when they are home from school for the summer. He has turned our basement into an office and once the kids are home for the summer they are going to expect to be able to hang out and play in the basement like they have always been able to, and it will be difficult to keep them out of there so he can work. Even though he initially told me he'd get an office space, I haven't heard anything more about it from him. Besides, we have barely enough money in our checking account to get us to the end of the month, and about two months worth in savings before we are tapped out, so I'm not sure how we would even afford an office space. Every time I ask him when we are getting paid, he tells me "I'm working on it" and that we have enough money to last us until June, but that's only about 2 weeks away now. When I told him how betrayed I feel because of what he did, he says he did this to help us, as a family, but I still cannot get over not being told about this. I feel blindsided and completely out of control of my own life. He has a partner, whom I have met once, and an investor, but this investor still hasn't committed any real money to the venture and the lawyer he says he has hasn't been responding to his emails and phone calls. I am terrified we will be destitute by summer, and I don't know how someone who can't remember something you told him 10 minutes ago is going to run a successful business. Just last year, he told me that he would never want to own his own business because he wouldn't want to do all the boring stuff like paying taxes and crunching numbers. And now here we are, and I don't know what to do.

I'm not really looking for answers from any of you. None of you can help me solve this mess I'm in. I just don't have anyone else to talk to and I really needed to get all this out. I am miserable and scared and he is behaving like he didn't just turn our lives upside down. I'm sorry this is so long. If you read this far, thank you. Thank you for hearing me.