A Gift to Myself (And to You)

I recently resolved to, at the start of each day (I look myself in the mirror while brushing my teeth) tell myself "I resolve to find one opportunity today to give my guy a little love at the moment I don't want to." 

I sometimes know my guy is trying to make me laugh, lighten the moment, indirectly ask for my forgiveness, obliquely show that's feeling overwhelmed, etc, etc, and because of the anger, sadness, loneliness, you name it, that I perpetually carry around, I turn away and miss the opportunity for a little closeness.  I struggle mightily with "He doesn't deserve it.  What about me? When he does better, then I'll do better."   Ugh.   

This resolution / commitment I make to myself has had two effects.  It creates a little tiny moment of delight that I am still capable of compassion for my life-long mate, or I sometimes see a little ease come over my guy's face, just for a moment.  Second, and most difficult, I am ashamed of how often in a single day I find the opportunity to exercise my commitment.  You don't see what you don't look for. 

Good for you

I have been tossing some things around too. I keep hearing DF when i think "why now?" "why now?" and i hear my dh saying he wants to "move forward" BUT, i have wanted to move forward for years and years and years and have been stuck in this endless miserable repeat cycle. It's a tug of war. How do you decide to move forward when so much time has been lost. I sometimes feel taking a baby step forward would wipe out the past -as if all that pain meant nothing because NOW dh is ready to "see"? The resentment is suffocating. All i see is the pain and hurt and bad memories... They have far outweighed the good. I know i'm in a bad place but i cant seem to get out. I had compassion all those years in counseling, i tried as hard as i could and now I am in "me" mode. Looks like i am going backwards instead of forward. It's only been two months since his "wake up". Not that i'm keeping track, but maybe i am? Do i want him to be miserable and trying for years to know what it feels like? On some level, i think i do, but i also know he wont do it. He couldnt do it. I think he was trying to tell me that he wasnt going to deal with "this" (me) for much longer this past weekend. Really! Just not the way to make me all warm and fuzzy! How long did it take for you to get "here"?

How long

In a way I'm only "here" five minutes at a time. I have to keep "re-learning" the same wonderful lessons over and over and over. In another way, it's been a long, long time.  I've only known about ADD for about six weeks, but I've been married 36 years.  My guy didn't deny he might have ADD, but the conversation ended with him saying he won't take a pill.  So I'm going ahead with what I've got, because that's all I can do. Maybe in the future he will get the treatment that would help him; I'll wait and see.   Would a part of me like an apology for the way things have been all these years?  Damn right I would!  Do I really believe an apology would remove those feelings? Not a chance in hell.  We both did the best we could with the knowledge we had at the time.  (Ask yourself if you believe he did the best he could at the time.  It's hard for me to say yes he did, because then I feel that all the pain I suffered was for nothing, but it must be said.  My guy did the best he could at the time.) 

For years I wanted to get to a place where I could understand how to improve our relationship.  I tried everything, and I envisioned a "someday" when we would have better strategies for being happily together.  Guess what!?!  That day is here.  I am not going to refuse to step into it -- I'm not going to stay back "there" because no one acknowledged what I went through, and no one apologized for that bad time.  I know what I went through and I know I am a hero for still being here and that has to be enough.  I just can't cling to "back there" -- it will damage whatever chance I have for today and tomorrow.  That's why I came up with the little exercise above... every time I do it, I drop a little of the burden of the pain of the past.  Researcher John Gottman says (I'm badly paraphrasing) marriages work when the positive interactions outweigh the negative interactions by a certain ratio.  Adding to the positive ratio is just as important as trying to eliminate the negative items.  For me it comes down to do I want my marriage to be good more than I want to be acknowledged that I was right in the past?  Does this mean I am a doormat, not sticking up for myself, giving in, letting him be the biggest influence in our marriage, letting his ADD overshadow everything I want?  Those are the middle of the night doubts, right, the ones that scream What About Me?  Beliefs that make me curl up into a ball can't be healthy or helpful in the long run, no matter how "right" they feel.  To them I say hell no.  I want my marriage, I want my guy, and I'm putting my big girl pants on and getting busy. I used to get "crushed" a dozen times a day by my guy's inattention and thoughtless, critical remarks.  Now I say Really?  Ow? or Yeah, Yeah, Yeah and 90% of the time they go on by. I used to get angry, angry, angry at his messes, messes, messes.  I really don't like being angry.  Now that I no longer take his messes as a personal insult or rejection of me, it's so much easier to say, hey bud need 10 minutes right now.   Since learning about ADD I have been able to give up the following useless beliefs:  If he wanted to, he could.  If he doesn't, it means he doesn't care.  If he loved me, he would.  If I were interesting, he would.  If I were were more _____, he wouldn't.  If I were less ______, he wouldn't.  These beliefs had me stumbling, weeping, steaming, questioning, wailing through my days and caused lack of sleep, shoulder pain, stomach pain, numb face, and a ton of frown lines.  I don't think people get "over" things, rather they get "through" them.  Good news:  You got through your past. (You're here today, aren't you?) Raise your arms and pump your fists.  Celebrate.    When you find yourself ruminating over offenses from five years ago, yesterday or five minutes ago - remind yourself Yay!  glad that's over.  best to you.

How do you get there?

I so want to get where you are with all of this...how do you get there? 

I am in the process of trying to let go of the control and anger (really hard for me because I had no freakin clue I was even doing it) and letting my dh be responsible for himself.  This website has really opened my eyes to alot of things, at times it feels like someone has been sitting in my living room taking notes.  I now know that alot of my dh's behaviors could have been a direct result of my behaviors....oh what a mess we have found ourselves in! 

So you ask him and he DOES it?!

I am fascinated by the idea that you ask him for help when he makes a mess and he DOES it! Mine will promise and whine about he shouldn't have to do it, and it never gets done. Right now we can't pay our rent because he can't find the debit card on which he gets his unemployment. So if you ask your guy to find his debit card or some such he will actually DO it? How did you get THERE?

My husband lost his job and does not seem to have any interest in finding a new one. I'm physically disabled, and also working. I shouldn't have to beg and plead with him for hours to do a 5-minute job that's hard for me and physically easy for him, that he has time for and I don't.

I admire your Zen-like calm, but to me, that would tell him it's OK to not do anything. In my situation, I don't think that's a winning formula. 

So you ask him and he does it? sorta

All folks are different -- different base personalities, different types of ADD, different responses to ADD, different spouses, different responses by spouses to ADD.  So with strategies A, B, C and D... 3 might work for me and my guy, 2 might work for my guy if he was with someone else, none might work for you and  your guy, etc....

Here's a sample of how I ask that works and one that doesn't.

Doesn't work:  At dinner:  Could you tidy up the living room?  Sure.  (do I need to tell you the end?)

Usually works:  He's watching tv, playing video games, on the computer, etc.  Me:  Honey?  He:  Yeah? (keeps doing what he's doing)  Me:  Could you pause for a second?  He:  Sure.  (pauses, sometimes right away, sometimes 5 seconds later.  If it goes on too long, I just repeat Could you pause for a second?  When he has finally turned to me I say Could you come and tidy up the living room right now?  It won't take but a minute, and I don't want to lose any of your stuff. (Insert:  laundry, dishes, snowblowing, lawnmowing, vacuuming, etc.  I always say won't take but a minute LOL)   80% of the the time, he will leave his activity "paused" go and do the request to 80% of my satisfaction, then return to his activity without any further conversation.  I pop back in with a thanks, usually.  Times it doesn't work:  When the task is too HUGE, would you clean the basement, the attic, paint the house.  Those things we plan to do together and in chunks.  When what he's already doing is "important" (my guy recognizes that TV watching, computer surfing and video games are "fun" not "important".)  I don't interrupt work he has brought home.  Doesn't work when I've already taken him away from his fun downtime several times today.  If I have two or three items that are short duration, I lump them together and stay with him to help. 

Sueann I sense you have much deeper, harder challenges to deal with than I do --At this moment I can't even imagine my husband being unemployed.  He would collect pop cans from the side of the road if it was the only way he could make money.  He's a spender, but I took over the finances after 6 months of marriage.  But he sure does lose things.  And gets crabby about it, and yells at me when I ask questions to help him find it.  I get very firm (and I so seldom do it's a shock that wakes him up) and say this must be found, you can't find it, so my method must be used.  And I walk him through the steps to figure out where to look.  He just can't find things that he loses -- he just can't.  I can't stand on my head.  Don't ask me to.  I can't.  We work to prevent losing things to begin with.  And sometimes, when I really don't care if the thing stays lost, I just say, bummer, hope it turns up.  We keep an eyeglass clippy on his car visor, an eyeglass case on his desk at work, one on the kitchen counter, and one in his cave.  80% of the time, his eyeglasses are in one of those places.  I'm just trying to work with I've got.  But I sure don't have it figured out. I start over every day.   I laughed about your Zen comment -- I have been meditating for about a year.  Saved my life.  Did I mention it saved my life?  If I only get to recommend one book for the rest of my life (no offense to the wonderful authors/hosts of this website) it would be Jon Kabat-Zinn's "The Full Catastrophe."  Did I mention it saved my life?  Anyway, I can keep my Zen-like calm (because it is healthy for me) while still requiring my base-line must have's from my guy.  He wouldn't have any respect for me if he thought I would take absolutely any behavior he dished out.  I encourage you to experiment with calm and positive to see how they are different from resigned and passive.  And of course, from bitter and angry.  I don't have a lot of experience with angry... my road has been confused and hurt and exhausted.  All our paths are different -- you just have to keep walking and not sit down on the side of the road.  Best wishes.



to needsalifeline

Just curious if you tried my "one thing a day" experiment, or if that feels like "giving in" to you.  Just love over anger or hurt once a day has been AMAZING for me.  How I got here, wherever that is, even prior to learning about ADD, is through near-constant effort to stay connected, meditation, knowing what I want most in life, and knowing what my bottom line is.  We never got to my bottom line, so I'm still here.  Now that I know about ADD I am so relieved... many things make so much more sense... I have no expectation he will ever "do" anything about his ADD, but I can!   Try to figure out what a particular problem is:  Is it ADD?  Is it your mate's response to ADD (what I call crappy coping or The Three Stooges)?  Is it your mate's personality?  Is it your response to his ADD?  Is it your response to his crappy coping?  Is it your personality?  Is it just that marriage can be hard sometimes for everyone?   For me, just thinking through these options works out the hurt, resentment, etc., and I just go on.  Are there folks out there who think I'm folding?  Selling Out?  Not sticking up for myself?  I'm going with what feels like love, compassion, commitment and trying to put aside what feels like anger, bitterness, resentment, shame, etc.  And I found out I can do this for myself, and he doesn't have to participate.  I have to make clear:  my guy has a job and always has had one.  He is never emotionally abusive like shouting, swearing, name-calling. If you have that, I can see how that would be very, very hard. My guy is very insensitive, inattentive, uncommunicative, horrible with money, a procrastinator, and does little work at home.  My classic question has been Why on earth (aside from clean underwear) does he stay with a woman he has no interest in?  Turns out he is interested, and I'm just now starting to believe him.    You wrote:  I now know that alot of my dh's behaviors could have been a direct result of my behaviors.  Do you know how big this is? Fabulous You. Do you know how many folks (whatever their marriage issues--ADD or not) never get to this realization?  Do you know this is your place of strength?  Because it's the only thing within your "control".   Lastly (I've really got to get some housework done LOL) do me one favor.  Go to dictionary.com  Search on "control"  Read all five definitions for the verb form.  Once you do, you're going to understand why that word, in the context of a relationship, crappy or fabulous, doesn't really work.  My favorite was #4.  Ow. 

Tried it yesterday actually...

Tried it yesterday actually...once again he only listened to half of what I said.  We had to buy a new battery for the truck because ours finally totally gave up...unfortunatly that took all our "extra" camping money.  So when he wanted to buy the stuff to make dinner for everyone we were camping with (like 15 people not including us) I told him that the battery took the extra money we had and that we couldn't.  He took that to mean we had used all our camping money and couldn't pay for the site....argggggg and then informed me I could go camping by myself because he knew we were just going to fight and he wasn't going (we go to a campground about 2 miles from our house cause he gets antsy if we are to far from home) to fight all weekend.  Further if I had told him, he would have put off buying the battery....ummmm there was NO putting it off, the truck had to be jump started three times yesterday!  Instead of ignoring him or yelling back....I just gave him a hug and asked him to listen to what I was saying..we had the basics for camping, just nothing extra.  It worked!  We went on camping and all was well.

Your guy sounds very familiar to mine....insensitive, inattentive, uncommunicative, horrible with money, a procrastinator, and does little work at home.  Unfortunately due to how he grew up he also tends to try to solve things by shouting, swearing, name-calling..etc.   He has always had a job up until the last year and a half...he had a work accident (not his fault) and hasn't been able to go back (workmans comp is fighting us still), but he is going to college full time so to me its not a big deal.  We actually agreed that he would not work so that he could put his full attention on school.  I try very had to be the one that "always has his back", even when everyone else is telling me to run.  But yes I have asked myself over and over why he is here if he doesn't want me (a couple of my previous posts explains that) and that is something I'm still working on. 

The realization that my behaviors were in part (he is still responsible for the choices behind those behaviors) responsible for his is something that just smacked me up along side the head about a week ago.  I realized I was doing things that were really messing things up without even knowing I was doing them, I was completely unaware!!  So...If I can be that unaware (and I'm the Non), then who am I to say he knows what hes doing 100% of the time.  Its been quite eye opening to say the least!

Thank you for your support and encouragement...your awesome!!

feeling like a fraud

Rough weekend, and it's only Saturday.  I have had six (yes, I counted) opportunities to keep my commitment today, and I haven't been able to do it yet.  I was tidying up some shelves/baskets, drawers in a couple of rooms, and suddenly realized it felt like I was getting ready to start packing.  Then I realized that in the past week, I've completed  file clearing project that was long over due.  You know the concept of "nesting", where an about-to-deliver mom starts cleaning, laying in supplies, etc?  That's what this feels like.  I'm apparently getting ready for something that my conscious mind hadn't acknowledged.  Where is my love today?  Where is my compassion today?  Where is my commitment to positive today?

Everyone has a bad day...

Girlfriend.....everyone has a bad day...why should you be any different????  It happens!  You cant be 100%, 100% of the time, take a deep breath and relax.  ~~HUGS~~