This Holiday – Take Some Time for Yourself

I have been thinking a lot lately about being responsible for yourself and taking care of yourself.  Too many non-ADD spouses subordinate themselves to the issues that ADD brings into their lives and, in so doing, lose themselves (or worse, become someone whom they don’t recognize and don’t like).  I think of this as being a victim of the tyranny of ADD.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that I’ve been reading up about the issue of codependence for my research for my book.  An interesting topic that is usually thought of in terms of addictions, particularly alcohol addiction.  The basic concept is that the non-alcoholic spouse becomes so concerned about protecting the alcoholic from the issues around the alcoholism that she a.) enables his alcoholism by “picking up after him” and b.) becomes totally consumed by responding to the unexpected twists and turns that alcohol in their relationship creates and c.) becomes someone she doesn't recognize.  Sound familiar?!

Anyway, it got me thinking about how best to support my own husband who, really, is pretty independent at this point…not like he used to be.  The change in him just reinforces the fact that I was hindering him, not helping him, when I did all that stuff for him.  Things like picking up after his messes, arranging his life for him (convincing myself he couldn’t do it successfully himself) etc.  WRONG!  He’s perfectly capable of arranging his life and, now that I’ve stopped trying to take over, he does it fine.  And when he misses something, that’s okay with me now because it’s NOT MY JOB!!!  His problem, not mine.  Boy, is that a freeing way to think!  And the great surprise to me has been that now that I’ve given him the gift of not trying to take over his life, he’s much more willing to actually think about me (!).  This generosity was always part of his nature, but when I was mad at him (and him at me) he hid it away.

This is a long-winded way of saying for this holiday season, be selfish!  Think about yourself.  What do you need?  What would bring some joy to you?  Splurge a little – perhaps a massage or a long soak in the tub with a good book.  It doesn’t have to be expensive…just focused on YOU!  And, importantly, since I’ve given you “permission” to do this, you don’t have to feel guilty about it!  (YAY – I knew I could be helpful!)  At the same time, see if you can give your spouse the gift of being himself without worrying about the consequences (assuming there is not specific danger to anyone...)

Here's hoping that everyone gets a bit of self-created peace and happiness these holidays!

Comments

Running Rough-Shod over Boundaries

I have so appreciated the comments posted here. I finally feel like I'm not alone. I have been in an ADD marriage for thirty years. We treated our son for ADD in his childhood over twenty years ago, and I suggested to my husband at the time that possibly this might help him too.  But he refused to acknowledge that anything was wrong with his behavior. 

He is obsessive/compulsive in nearly everything, over talks anyone in the conversation, runs from conflict and has the attention span of a puppy, yet blames everyone else for the damage he leaves in the wake of his selfishness. I have felt like the abandoned wife for thirty years, as he shows affection only when he wants "something". Then he treats me like a rag doll and abuses any personal boundaries in the bedroom. I've gone as far as "cutting him off" for several months, and that cuts me off too, but honestly, I would rather go without, than be used to satisfy his bizarre fetishes. 

As a woman of faith, I am reluctant to divorce, but admit I have thought of it often as I am desperate for a "normal" life. I am a very passionate person, as well as expressive. My husband is talkative, but with and about everything and anyone but me, especially when it comes to "below the surface" issues, leaving me feeling even more alone. God has blessed me however, with the desire and gift to write, and I have taken that up as a means of an outlet as well as receiving the encouragement from readers that I have longed for from my husband.

I've often told him that it was his humor that I thought was so cute and clever when we first dated. I now see it was a facade to his real feelings and it's wearing thin with me and our three grown kids.  He knows the jig is up and it's time to get real, as the marriage is in real jeopardy. He has finally relented to seeking treatment, so time will tell over the coming months the direction our marriage will take.

 

Boundaries

Can you be more specific about running over boundaries? (Not in explicitness -eww- but in what kinds of boundaries he bulldozes) My husband has no boundaries. He feels it is OK to just get into or use anything in the house without any thought as to who it belongs to and whether or not they want him to use things. When he does 'borrow' things he treats them badly so on one wants him to touch their things. When he does find some kind of stimulation he overdoes it to the point of outrageous obsession, as in days in front of a video game nearly without any break. We do not talk, we do not do anything together. When I ask him to do something he flames up and I am just the evil terror who doesn't ever want him to have fun. Sexually, he will be grumpy and ignore me at 9 pm and wake me up at 4 because now HE wants. Talk about making me into absolutely NOTHING! In any case are these the kinds of boundaries you are referring to? Still praying -L

But it's not really "selfishness" is it?

I've always been puzzled by this idea of taking care of yourself being "selfish". Note that I'm philosophizing here, moreso than arguing... but really, if everyone needs a minimum standard of self-attention and care, is attending to that minimum actually being "selfish"? Is NOT attending to at least that minimum "selfless"? I sort of see it the other way around... refusing to take care of yourself so you can focus on the other person (especially in a codependent situation) is the consummate form of selfishness. One who does that actually puts their own gratification above their own good and the good of the relationship... doing it knowingly is all the worse. I've been on both sides of that scenario and the most selfless act you can make is to let go, let the other person flounder and figure out what to do, and make sure that you're actually healthy to be able to deal with a _real_ life... Your mileage may vary, of course... but there's my Thursday afternoon muse for ya. :)