How does the non ADHD spouse start taking care of themselves?

Since I found this site, I find myself posting a lot. It has been cathartic. Over the years I've had some support from my kids and a best friend who has a now adult child with ADHD.  She left her ADHD husband and is thriving, but I want to try to stay in mine. Most of the time I felt so alone and no-one understood either of us. I can understand why some of the posters sound so negative. I know for me I've held it all in for so long, it just pours out in this arena. A refuge. I wonder if once the pain and hurt and "bashing' gets out the tone becomes more positive?

I know I've tried to keep things more on the positive side.  I hope. With all that said, after I found this site, I took a small step towards self care. Wearing makeup, nice clothes, jewelry. It was only one day but it helped a lot. I'm usually so anxious, tired and trying to juggle so many things, that I don't have the energy for myself.

We are slooowly getting back on our feet but It isn't over yet. We still have legal and financial issues hanging over us. He has a job, but it doesn't pay well and has been called back for a second interview for a better job. In the meantime I'm trying hard to keep us from becoming homeless again.

I don't work except as a volunteer from home. I have severe dental problems and have been trying to save to fix those so I can work also. I can barely speak, and my face is slightly disfigured.

My self esteem is at an all time low. So my question is, where do I start to recharge, work on my appearance, my hobbies when I can barely raise the energy to get dressed? I'm still recovering from spinal surgery.

How do I start to let go of some of the responsibilities without everything falling apart again?

Keep in mind I TEACH organizing, uncluttering. I use the GTD method and notebook. Yet in this area I find it hard to get going.

How does a spouse start taking care of themselves.

After posting a couple of times, and thinking about movies( I am steeped in movies since my ADHD spouse loves them, went to school to become a filmmaker and has probably seen every last one since we've been together.) It occurred to me how many scenes seemed to hit home for me. Yes , this may come across as harsh, but it's reality for me.

In Shark Tales the scene where the girl fish pounds her hand(fin) into the other and does a nuggie motion in frustration saying "Sometimes I just want to un un un un!" I get that!

These are from "As Good as it Gets."

I think of a man. And I take away reason and accountability. ( My version, I think of a person and...)

Never interrupt me, okay? Not if there's a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home, and one week later there's a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body, and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you're gonna faint - even then, don't come knocking. Or, if it's election night, and you're excited and you wanna celebrate because some fudge-packer that you date has been elected the first queer president of the United States and he's going to have you down to Camp David. And you want someone to share the moment with. Even then, don't knock, not on this door. Not for ANY reason. Do you get me, sweetheart?

(My hubby when he is hyperfocusing)

How can you diagnose someone as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and then act as if I had some kind of choice about barging in here? (Need I explain)

Sell crazy some place else, we're all stocked up here. (My personal favorite)

Come on in, and try not to ruin everything by being you. (What I'm thinking most of the time)

I have tons of these that go through my mind.

My point is this, in another post I shared what it feels like as the non ADHDer in the marriage. This is along those lines.  I want to feel differently, not like the above scenes describe. And in this  post, how can I start reclaiming me and my life. So I pulled out a beautiful empty journal and decided to focus on the positive qualities I have. Not him, this is just about me. Feels rather selfish since I have focused so much on him over the years.

I have lost the sense of who I am and I believe by starting this I can become healthier,more focused, stronger and more capable of helping him ultimately. I'm often so exhausted I feel like I'm walking in a fog. I think that contributes to the poor dynamics in our marriage. What do you think?

 

taking time for me

I recharge my batteries by ensuring that I have 2-3 FULL HOURS of solitude each day.    I send the 3 kids to bed at 8:30 sharp.  I have learned that I must be faithful about this to keep my sanity.  1 MINUTE makes the difference between "Good night, baby.  I love you.", and "Go to bed  &@%!"  (said under my breath, of course).  Then I spend about 2 hours practicing at the piano- my husband (surprisingly) respects that I am not to be disturbed at this time.  I have found that "working" a classical piece fully engages my mind, almost functioning like a koan for me.   Then I spend the remaining hour reading.  My hobbies allow me to experience "flow" and a loss of a certain amount of self-consciousness. Exercising every morning also helps- but I hate doing that (no "flow" for me there, but I know its good for me).

taking time for me.

This is so helpful, what I'm looking for here. Useful tips I can implement in my own life. Tired of just surviving and coping, a word I see often in the posts. I want to get beyond coping to functioning.

I added something to my journal today. I spent several hours with my  teenaged Granddaughter and discussed some issues she was having. She told me "I wish I could carry you around in my back pocket and pull you out when I need answers. You are so insightful. " You "get" it. That kind of validation is empowering me. Especially when it seems I have none when it comes to my marriage and ADHD.

It was refreshing to have a conversation with someone who can actually follow my reasoning and thoughts and ACT and follow through with them.

When hubby came home for his lunch break and actually noticed how busy I was, he said " I suppose you are too busy to make me lunch.(passive-aggressive) In the past I would feel guilty, and drop what I was doing to make him something. I chose to say "Yes, I am. You can make a sandwich from the leftovers. "He said, "I don't have time. " I simply said. "I'm sorry." He managed to scrounge something up. He wasn't happy but I have to make small steps somewhere and stop wearing myself down by being manipulated.

When he came home from his job later that evening, he actually took the time to let me know the guys at work loved the  loaf of pepperoni bread I sent with him. He said, They devoured it and it was a pleasant change from sweets.  I thanked him for two things, letting me know and working the extra hours. I realize he is really making an effort in our relationship, and the more good exchanges we have, the more he seems to try. There is still a lot of work to be done in other areas, but every small victory helps.

I used to negate these positive steps by pointing out what he had failed to do immediately after. Instead I addressed the other issues later in a different context. I am learning more, where and how I contribute to the problems.

Topaz re: surviving and coping

I would say that I am much more than surviving and coping.  I have my times of despair; when I first posted on this site was one of those times.  I felt so overwhelmed for a few days and had to get it out.  But overall, I am fully functioning.  My work life is exactly where I want it to be; I have my hobbies and friends that I indulge in regularly and often.  I enjoy my children.  I live where I want to live and generally do what I want to do.  Oh, husband does/doesn't do a LOT of things that p*ss me off-  but in 12 years, he has yet to challenge one of my  "deal breakers" (drug/alcohol abuse, infidelity, gross fiscal irresponsibility, physical abuse).  Early in our marriage, I told him that if he decides to stay out all night, he's deciding not to walk through the door of our home EVER again. Best not to make those kinds of decisions impulsively.  LOL

One thing that I think may make a difference for my life is that I live very close my parents; I put my (retired) mom on salary as my nanny.  This works great as the kids are very close to their grandparents, see them everyday and get an up close and personal view of what a "normal" marriage looks like.  Also, my parents (mom and step-dad)  together function as my "extra parent";  I schedule/pay for all kids appointments/play dates/school related functions - they make sure the kids get there.  

My husband owned a duplex from before we were married  (his parents lived downstairs). He didn't really want to live close to my parents.  I think he wanted to stay in the duplex so he could help his parents, but I was more concerned with the help I would need to raise kids.   When that first kid was born, I could see that he wasn't going to give anywhere near 50% of the care.  Fortunately, when we bought our house hyperfocus was still ruling the day, so he acceded to my wishes.  If I were to try to get that deal today, it probably wouldn't happen : ).   I can imagine how our family life would look if we had lived in the duplex (an hour away from my parents)- IT WOULD BE BAD!  I am lucky that I was firm about where we would live early on.  My parents provide a good deal of stress relief in my marriage.  I have friends who tell me that their parents NEVER help them with their kids.  I can't imagine how stressful it is to raise children with "only" 2 parents, let alone if one of those parents has ADD/ADHD.

It is a quirky little part of my extended family culture that grandparents help (a lot!) raise grandchildren.  I have male relatives in their 70's and 80's - some single- who are still babysitting/caring for their grandkids.  This has been the case for many generations.  This is because all adults in my family of working age work outside the home.  Anyone who doesn't work outside the home and has children is expected to take care of their own kids.  Funny line:  I had a distant family member who elected to stay home with her child and not work, but she apparently asked MY mom if she could watch her child a couple of days a week.  My mom said she told her, "I am not watching anybody's child who isn't working, but is still breathing." LOL

I am confused. Regarding your

I am confused. Regarding your husband's lunch you say, "He managed to scrounge something up" without your help. This is followed with a sentence implying that you had a hand in the completing of his lunch, " ... the guys at work loved the loaf of pepperoni bread I sent with him."  Maybe I'm just reading it wrong. ;-)

confused.

I'm sorry for the confusion. Trying to keep things shorter. He made his own lunch, then went back to work. He has a second part time job, so he came home from his first job later then I gave him the bread which was in the fridge, to take to his second job.  I was free then to do so.I hope that clarifies things

standing up for yourself

Though it wasn't always convenient, inside I was actually happy when my husband started standing up for himself again and stopped letting me run all over him.  It felt more like a partnership of adults.  Hopefully, your husband feels that way, too, and his taking care to tell you how much the guys appreciated the bread is one way of showing it, even if he grumped about getting the sandwich.

You've already turned the corner

regarding how to take care of yourself.  It's huge deal (at least it was for me) to come to the realization that you even had to.  Somewhere along the way I got really, really tired of trying "figure it all out" and decided to live the life I wanted despite it all.  Notice I didn't say TO spite it all; I do this with my husband's feelings in mind. Like you, I've also started to dress better, put a little more makeup on, and actually style my hair instead the as-long-as-it's-not-sticking-up look.  Here's some more stuff that helped me:

Do something you liked to do before your life looked like it does now.  If that was something you aren't able to do anymore due to health, find something you always admired or wanted to do that's expressive, like photography or painting.  Classes are usually available at community college for stuff like that.  I love the other post about playing piano uninterrupted.  I am finishing my home decorating projects.

Make a coffee date with your girlfriends whom you used to hang out with; there's no one like a good girlfriend to remind you how fun it was to be you once.  I've been able to recapture strength in an ironic sort of way.  They hear my story and their support and empathy reminds me how valuable I am and how strong I am.  I'm not usually one to need or depend on others' company or opinions, but sometimes a girl just needs to hear how great she's looking these days or how proud someone is of her for sticking it out through tough times.  It also reminds me I have a life outside of my home and job.  I'm an independent woman in many ways, so being reminded of the fact that I'm somebody even if those things go away has also been good for me. 

Do a lot of reflection on yourself.  Socrates said "know thyself" and there is a good deal of wisdom in that.  In these hard times I learned a great deal about myself.  My closest friends ask me questions about why I think I'm feeling a certain emotion or reacting a certain way.  Maybe I can't answer it right away, but I'll think about it for weeks if necessary until I turn up some reasons why I am the way I am.  I guess it's a bit of self-counseling.  I ask the hard questions of myself instead of paying someone else to do it!  :) (no offense to you counselors!) I also find that this takes the focus off of finding fault with my husband and building resentment. 

Understand that there will still be days when you don't feel like you want to get out of bed, or maybe you don't want to return to the stresses contained in your home once you've left.   I feel like I've made some great progress, but man, there are still days when I still get caught in mourning the dream I've lost.  There are still days when I don't want to deal with any of it and just keep driving past my exit on the highway.  But I also know there are fewer and fewer of those days as time goes by and I'm going to be OK again. 

I hope you find these things useful and encouraging.

Hey, Hermie40- I really like your post

I agree that self-reflection is vital.  I have found that reading the classics- particularly those authors that are very insightful about human nature- is not only entertaining, but instructive.  I have some novels that I have read 10 or more times; interestingly, my understanding of different characters' motivations changes as I age and change also.   This has also helped me more than any counseling I have ever had (no offense to counselors).  I'm never too mad to read!

Turned the corner.

Thank you so much for taking the time to post your response. It is extremely helpful. I have felt empowered somehow since reading it and have been able to get through yet another crisis, pretty intact thanks to thinking about what you shared.

I've always been told I am a deep thinker, however more often than not it was only ruminating, not really getting anywhere. Writing my thoughts down help even though I tend to edit some of it. (I get horrified to think if anyone read something, taking it out of context or taking it literally, I'd be locked up in an asylum or put in jail lol)

After reading some of my own posts here, I can't believe I wrote some of them, seeing my feelings and thoughts in print really make me aware of "me" and honestly didn't realize what I was feeling so much. Too busy just feeling them. I have felt like a shadow, lurking in the background of "His" life.

I've been establishing some boundaries since reading your post, saying no an awful lot. I've paid attention to our interactions and observing things more instead of reacting. I have stopped some enabling behaviors much to his dismay, and find it doesn't't kill him, and I can withstand him upping the ante when I do.

So thanks again, please share more if you can.

Hurricane ADHD or here we go again

One of the descriptions of living with an ADHD spouse is life is like a roller coaster, I agree. I lived in Florida and I was there when we were hit with 3-4 hurricanes back to back. Life with my spouse is like that.

So often it is like being hit with a hurricane, then bracing yourself and scrambling during the "eye" of the hurricane knowing it is coming again. After the first one hit, a neighbor and I stood outside our condos. It was dark, eerily quiet and debris was everywhere. Much like our life. No sense trying to clean up because the other side was coming to wreck more havoc.

So this week I was feeling hopeful, and resentful it was happening during the holidays. I hate holidays, it's difficult enough to get through normal times without adding the holiday tasks and events and expectations.

We had Thanksgiving and my son's birthday party back to back and exhausted I collapsed early this morning. Couldn't sleep during the night, we have a "guest" staying with us and he has my bed. We don't have a couch yet so I stayed up.

So I finally go to bed when hubby gets up to run errands. I wake up thirsty, no water in the fridge, so I flip the faucet. ..Nothing. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? insert string of swear words. It's 7 hours since hubby left, no note, no calls ,nothing. Our guest isn't here either. He was supposed to go handle the sale of our business equipment, make some calls regarding the EVICTION notice I was handed during son's birthday party.

Keep in mind I paid those bills indirectly. BIG mistake. I gave hubby the card to go to the water company earlier this month, since somehow it didn't get paid the FIRST time I sent him with it last month apparently. I can't drive the car since there is a problem with the seat, I can't reach the pedal. The water company won't accept payments online or over the phone. The rent issue totally baffled me. We are on a payment plan with the deposit and I know it was not due. I paid the rent and have receipts.

The house is a wreck with dishes still piled up from the parties and laundry everywhere. The den, I can't even describe, I almost broke a rib tripping over the coffee bench they had put in the garage during the party.

He had had to take our guest(his friend) to the ER a couple of days ago. Turns out he had an ulcer, he took him for a follow up visit this morning, I knew that, so why weren't they home?

I went back to bed to cool off until he got home. He came home, he peeked into the room. I said "I am not speaking to you right now." He said I need to talk to you it's important! I said it again. He closed the door. I took some breaths and got up and went into the kitchen. I said sit down. Here's your chance to explain. I think you know where I'm at.

He said" It's not my fault the water got turned off. I paid what the lady said we owed. I asked, did you take the bill with you? I told you how much it was! "No, sorry. I assumed we were wrong" omg. So the bill is paid now, the water will be turned back on in the morning. Why in the morning, you paid it this morning right? Well, noooo, not till late this afternoon. Why?  (I'll explain that in a bit)The rent, well apparently the landlord did not talk to her brother who also owns the house about the arrangements we had made so he pursued the eviction assuming we owed rent.

So his Dad paid the full amount owed, and I will pay him back from the sale of the equipment.

As for his friend. He had taken him to the Dr. for the follow up, then went to the water company. His friend started having convulsions and foaming at the mouth, so he rushed him back to the hospital. He was DETOXING. Turns out his friend is an addict/alcoholic in the N/A program and while here he went on a binge secretly. He had come to me asking me to make some soup, he wasn't feeling well. I thought he had the flu or something.

He was still at the hospital when hubby had come home. I said this is unacceptable, he HAS to go. They had made arrangements for him to leave tomorrow to a rehab center, and the hospital was discharging him tonight.  So I allowed him to come back to pack his things.

I talked to hubby and told him I'm done with all this insanity, YOU get treatment, meds etc or I am taking my son and leaving. He said he is sick and tired of it too, and wants help. I told him you must take full responsibility this time, I have to take care of me now and the mess I know I helped create.

So I delegated cleanup tasks, and started putting the house back to order. While I was downstairs directing the cleanup and organizing the laundry, I went into the guest room to hang some clothes that were going into storage. There were many empty bottles of alcohol, beer cans, trash etc strewn all over. I was LIVID. I told hubby to get a trash bag and have his guest clean it up. I said You didn't KNOW? He said I thought he was recovering.

His guest was apologetic, but I was NOT hearing it. Hubby is an addict, clean and sober for 20 years, what was he thinking bringing this into our lives? How could he not inform me his friend had this problem.

I had an uneasy feeling Thanksgiving when I went to get the wine out of our fridge( I cook with it) and it was gone. I was puzzled, it had been in there for months. I racked my brain and finally asked hubby to ask his friend. His friend denied taking it, AND bought me a bottle to replace it. My instincts told me to follow up on it, but I was so overwhelmed with the holiday and birthday party and financial issues, it took a back seat.

I took a clipboard, put a legal pad on it and told hubby, we are writing EVERYTHING down on this, our conversations, what needs to be done to get you help,everything that needs to be done, EVERYTHING. We are having a 15 minute meeting EVERY day. No excuses. I simply cannot go on like this.

I wrote on the pad. We are not bringing anyone into our home again, period.( This is not the first time) Our life is hard enough without dealing with other people's problems. I cannot do it.

He is hurting, so am I. I know, we talked off and on through out the night. So here I sit, just feeling blind sided. I am writing out a contract and setting up some boundaries. I told him do not expect a lot of Christmas activity. Our gift has to be getting you help and our life back on track. He started to protest, then saw the look on my face. He said I've seen that look before, but somehow it's different. I said, I'm feeling stronger since I found this website, and I have drawn a line.

So he said okay, I understand.

As I was writing this, our guest and hubby came in and informed me, he is leaving tonight, to stay with another friend. He thanked me for my hospitality and apologized for the events. Honestly I was relieved. I went through the house, closing doors, turning off lights, a common ritual for us nons.

I find hubby in the guestroom, looking around. He is overwhelmed. His friend had not cleaned up at all and left his belongings, choosing not to take anything at all. Hubby wanted to leave it until later. I said no. At least pick up the trash and strip the bed. He sighed, and filled a huge trash bag full of bottles, cans and trash. Stripped the bed. Tomorrow he has to clean the car out because his friend threw up in there.

I asked him how it felt to deal with his friends' crisis day after day and now cleaning up his messes. I said, That is how I feel with you. He said, I feel like a horrible person. I said, I'm not surprised, a life filled with crisis after crisis, failure after failure. I said however YOU are not a horrible person, get over yourself. You have a disability, deal with it now.

Now to make it happen. It is quiet in the house, there is debris everywhere. So like a hurricanes aftermath.  I think I have taken the rage I was feeling and used it to give me the energy to deal with all this as productively as I could. I'm so glad I have this site to come to. Thank you all.

Topaz- re hurricane ADHD

Hey girl, how's that "taking care of yourself" thing going?  I was reading your post and I like your positive attitude. I know I come across as very cynical, but I am overall a positive person.   I am reluctant to post at times, because I feel like I don't quite "fit in" in this regard; I have very strong personal boundaries and cannot honestly classify myself as an enabler in any way. I am just irritated all to h*ll with my husband.  I think it is somewhat easier to look at large things and draw boundary lines.

But I gotta tell ya: giving up my bed to a guest?  Uh, no.  Not unless its my own sick, beloved parent.  My bed is MY BED:  I earned it, I "maintain" it, and if YOU need a bed? You best go get YOU one.  I ain't kidding-  recently my husband's cousin came over and got sick soon after he pulled in the driveway.  My husband came in the house saying, "[He] said he wants to come in and lay down; he feels dizzy and like he's going to throw up."  I'm all, "Have you gone mad?  I got three kids who are at various times puking and crapping around here.  I am not cleaning up after some grown a** man who isn't my husband.  He lives 20 minutes away from here.  Toss him into the back of his car and drive him home.  I'll follow you and drive you back." My husband thought that was mean and selfish- at first.  He tried to argue.  I walked back in the house and shut the door.  I'm not arguing about stuff like that.

But after thinking about it, hubby told me he realized that what's "selfish" is coming to someone's family home (with little kids!) dragging your flu germs around, and thinking you can work someone else's wife to death taking care of you, imposing on their busy family life, not to mention puking on someone else's furniture....

I think the best place anyone can start "taking care of themselves " is to start developing a healthy appreciation of "MINE".  I follow your posts with interest....

re: hurricane-revelation

First I want to thank you, revelation and the other posters who respond to my posts. Being in a relationship where I feel alone and talking to a wall most of the time, and being so isolated, well it makes me feel like I EXIST. Being around others who have similar feelings and experiences, even though I hate that they do, wow, the validation is incredible.

I gain strength from your posts, seeing now that there are other options and choices. Knowing I don't have to be an enabler and that I can say no, and having others understand why it is so difficult to change those behaviors,it's just so..freeing.

As far as taking care of me. The word that just glares at me from many of the posts, mine include is EXHAUSTED. The other feeling that just screams to be heard is FEAR.

Journaling, I've done that before in fits and starts and never followed through because re-reading them was so painful, so much rage, despair, hopelessness, feeling guilty about writing those feelings oddly enough, as if I shouldn't feel that way.

This time, however, I am reflecting as I write, and realized as I reflect on not just my marriage, but who I was, what my life was before, I get revelation after revelation. Understanding why I am an enabler, why I make the choices I do. Where a lot of the fear and helplessness comes from, and where my positive attitude and strength also come from.

It helps me see what I need right now to move forward. What I need to do or have to take care of myself.

I've had counseling many times because of depression, but never really worked through all the issues. Many times because the counselors just would not address his ADHD or our combined issues were so complex,. Well you know how that goes.

All these years I also felt so much shame, and feelings of failure because as a teen, my mother was told I had an IQ of 159. That number was the bane of my existence. I was EXPECTED to excel in everything. It followed me into my marriages and in my mind, if I was so smart why couldn't I handle it all? There must be something terribly wrong with ME.

I'm going to digress here a bit. For those who are contemplating a relationship with a person with ADHD,  if you have unresolved issues or disabilities etc, If you are not in a place where you are strong, have addressed those and  aren't capable of being totally independent, I honestly think it is not a wise choice. The combined issues are just too much to deal with.

I had so much baggage and he had his, the weight of both has almost destroyed both of us and has affected our son and my children.

So I've decided to address the exhaustion and fear first.  My pedicure which is important but not on the top of my list, is scheduled so it doesn't go by the wayside, like it often does. To do that I needed to find a way to get hubby to handle necessary tasks, decide what was important,not necessarily urgent (everything is urgent in this marriage) Make sure I arranged things to get the sleep I needed, and some personal time to do NOTHING, yes, nothing and not feel guilty about it.

Fear kept me awake, kept my brain in go mode, and prevented me from taking me time, because I was so busy handling things. So I wrote down the things I was fearful of, and made a task list of what had to be done to lessen the fear. Whether it was making sure the tags were bought for the car, the rent issue was completely resolved, etc.

Trusting that I was committed to staying in this marriage for the right reasons and doing what I needed to do and letting him know I needed that same assurance from him.

I realized I wasn't ready to just jump back into my artwork and hobbies. I needed some makeup to replace the petrified things left in my cosmetic drawer. I could start fixing my hair at least. I have long hair. I understood that I'm making a lot of changes and trying to do too much,  too soon, even it it was for me, would only backfire.

Part of the hesitancy I know is fear, fear that I would start something and then have to let it sit rotting because we had yet another crisis. So I looked at any potential issues that could become a crisis, and am starting to handle those first. Knowing his track record and what issues keep re-occurring helped me pinpoint where to start.

I did create a new routine and scheduled some time just for me, once a week for larger projects and one hour a day to reflect on what I wanted to do, during that time I do yoga and play Zynga games until I know what I really want to do for fun and recreation.

I am adamant about that hour. Somehow in the course of our marriage we got in the habit of me "tucking" him into bed. I generally stay up way later. Can you say MOTHER?? I resented it, it only served to reinforce my role as "his" mother and not his wife. 

I addressed that, and he said it was not so much "tucking" him in but closure and comfort at the end of the day. Nonetheless if both parties aren't agreeable...I preferred snuggling for a while instead but I don't always want to. So tonight when he asked me I said,"I told you I am not comfortable doing that, this is my hour, I'm sorry, can he just hug and kiss and say our goodnights?"

So he agreed, wary of the new "me".lol .In my next post our new To Do system that is working for him.

self esteem

As part of self care, as I reflect on my life,I've notice I have often dismissed compliments. A little background here. I was once a model and always an overachiever, and the cattiness, taunts of how conceited one is,if heaven forbid you acted the least bit confident took it's toll. The extreme competitiveness didn't help either. So I was always afraid if I took compliments to heart I would be or be considered conceited. I didn't know the difference between conceit and a strong self image.

Humility is a lesson that was drilled into me from my youth. Often feeling lonely, neglected and unworthy of any attention from my husband. That in part also because of my ex's wandering ways. I no longer liked myself. My husband said to me once, Everybody loves (insert my name) but (Insert my name )doesn't love (Insert my name) Even he saw it. I didn't know how to love me anymore.

So I recalled all the times I had been given compliments. One stood out. I had been hired to organize a woman's entire home in one week. Given that she had a hobby that was taking over her house, it seemed impossible. However after much pleading on her part and the fact that the pay was much needed I agreed. It was tough, I had to leave the state for a week, and I wasn't sure I would have a life or home to come back to if I left hubby in charge.

  So after several consults via email and phone, I created a plan, and had her husband (A carpenter) make some alterations to her home to accommodate the plan(she had a physical disability)and need accessible storage. By the end of the week, we had accomplished 90 percent of  the  uncluttering and organizing, what was left they could implement and finish. Her husband was thrilled as was she. So they took me out to dinner. I had not seen much of her husband, he had been out of town for most of it.

Later she told me" My husband was absolutely enthralled with you, he said you are beautiful,charming, engaging, witty and made him feel like what he said was important and interesting.  She laughed and said I probably should be jealous, but I haven't seen him so delighted and talk so much in years. It was great. It helped me see what he needs from me. I watched how you drew him out and  you didn't say much at all. It was helpful to me."

Two things about that. I was envious of HER. She was so confidant in her marriage,and in herself that she could tell me that.

I didn't know what to say. I was thinking, really? Why doesn't MY husband see me that way? Fast forward to other similar events and other men and women repeating that to me. Made it worse. I convinced myself it was just a mask and that wasn't really me, since I was OBVIOUSLY not that at home. So I boldly asked my hubby if he thought that about me.

He seem offended at first. He said OF course, that is why I fell in love with you. I asked, so what happened? He looked so baffled. Happened to what? I said why don't you want to talk to me or spend time with me or even TELL me those things anymore? He shrugged.  Dead End.

So he lives in his Ivory tower ,whiling away the hours, clueless. I realized that I couldn't base my self worth on what he thought or did. That I didn't need his approval or 'strokes' to feel good about myself. That was HUGE. I could love me ANYWAY. I guess when you get into a relationship you want to be "one" and yet be individuals also. Somewhere along the way, the lines get blurred and your identity gets lost.

Some time later he came back to me, he had actually thought about what I had said. He said, "Honey I do talk to you, every day I come home and spend oh at least half an hour or more telling you about everything at work."

He smiled at me as if now he is off the hook. I responded. "Ok true, do you recall giving me a chance to talk about MY day? In my world, THAT is a conversation, give and take, an EXCHANGE. You spill your guts, then disappear into your t.v or computer or games.

He frowned. His face lit up suddenly. "I ask you how your peeps are doing on your Zynga games all the time." (When he comes out of his cave and gets food or drink). Ok granted, that lasts about 45 seconds. I try, I really try to see things from his perspective, but there is always a BUT.

Childlike

Sorry folks, I am on a roll, funny how once it starts coming out it just comes in waves. As I re-read my posts and in our recent conversations and interactions at home,I notice how glaringly childlike my husband is. Even though he is an adult, even his features are childlike. A big teddy bear of a guy. His language, mannerisms, hobbies, helplessness dependance and his responses. Very much like a small child, at times, others like an adolescent.

His asking to be tucked in, his fidgeting, restlessness, short attention span. It really has an impact on how I view him and it affects my intimacy with hi. It almost feels incestuous as another poster put it. I am not the only one who see him that way, his friends and sometimes coworkers joke about it.

He is ten years younger than me and as we grow older the difference is less obvious as some maturity has set in. He was always a great father to a point, I felt that he was too much of a buddy to our son than a Father figure. He has always been able to take the reins however and have wonderful discussions with our son about life, goals, how to behave in situations, faith, love,everything. It did not make sense to me how he could do that with him, but not me.

I resented their relationship for a long time, they had Father/Son day without fail ,going to movies, events, Disney World etc. He coached my son's basketball team.  They played video games together, built lego creations. You name it. I felt like a bystander/ servant/ afterthought in our family. He absolutely doted on his son and tried to give him everything, take him everywhere,even at the expense of our security. ( I understand that from his background) Understand never once did I resent my son or the fact that he was privileged to have such attention or experiences.

Now that he 16 and has a girlfriend, plays instruments and is involved in extracurricular activities of his own, that relationship has gone for the most part. My husband is utterly devastated and was depressed some time because of it.

I can see in part, through that relationship, my husband was able to continue his childhood,abdicate responsibilities at home(after all, his son came FIRST) and do the things he and his Father hadn't. I had hoped that when this time came, that our relationship would pick up where it left off, instead he has sought out friendships with men who sadly are immature or has issues, like the friend who recently left our home.

I know he needs friends, I just want to be part of his "fun" life too. I don't want him to lose the fun part of himself, since it is part of why I fell for him. I just want him to be more mature. Can I say GROW UP?

Topaz- re: Your "hour"

Yeah, girl.  You get that hour, and defend it!  Having my 2-3 hours of solitude a day is what keeps me from becoming exhausted dealing with my husband.  I know when I am tired, I don't cope with things well.  Everything looks bleaker to me when viewed through fatigue.  The rest also gives me a chance to reflect on what's bothering me TODAY with hubby, and to decide if its a critical issue or something I can let go.  

Generally, if it doesn't have the potential to hurt/kill one of us [the family], physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially, I can let a lot of that go. LOL.  I don't do a lot of crabbing to him about picking up his clothes off the floor, etc.  I guess I kind of see issues like that as just part of living with anyone, ADD or not.  Some people are just slobs. LOL

I heartily endorse doing "nothing."  I will tell you a secret:  At least once a month, I get dressed for work (scrubs) and kiss everyone goodbye (I am last one to leave every morning).  As soon as they are gone, I will change back into my pajamas and lay around doing NOTHING that isn't enjoyable for the entire day.  I even take a nap!  I set my alarm to 15 minutes before hubby arrives with kids in tow.  I quickly change back into my scrubs and meet them at the door saying,  "Whew! What a day!"  Mums the word.....

Mum's the word.

"I know nothing" lips are zipped. LOL Wow, I LOVED your post.   I'm quoting you here {"if it doesn't have the potential to hurt/kill one of us [the family], physically, emotionally, psychologically, or financially, I can let a lot of that go. LOL.}  Yow, THAT never occurred to me. I think it will be the key that saves me.

In an earlier post I said that it is coming out of me in waves(thoughts, emotions) just like childbirth, I feel like I am pregnant with hope and possibility and I am in the process of giving birth to a New "ME" (note the caps) It is painful, incredibly so at times, I breath and push on.

The folks here are like my coach, helping me through the process. I just hope something in my posts helps someone else too.

I pray for peace for you revelation, and a good outcome. Thank you for "being" there.

Doing nothing

I love days like that - in fact I have one planned tomorrow.  Unfortunately what often happens is I spend most of the day sleeping, because I'm so exhausted.

But tell me, are you taking the day off work then, or do you have a free day and the family just doesn't know?  I'm a teacher, so even when I'm sick I often go to work (feel so guilty for missing class), so I wouldn't be able to do that (except during finals, like now).

I have fantasies now of taking days or weeks just to pamper myself, wish I could...

nothing days

Yep, nothing days are something I must have as well.  I thought it might be just my personality type (introvert, introspective, grew up being alone alot, etc) but I think it's a combo of the stress while my DH is around.  I need a break from the pattern of wondering if what I'm saying or doing right now is offensive or being stored for ammunition against me at a later date.  I fear those patterns will lead to co-dependency on my part, so I feel like I need some brain down time to thing of something else or nothing at all if possible.  Nothing days for me are whatever I want to do; redecorate a room or sleep all day.  If I ask him to be otherwise engaged on a certain day, he will leave me alone and go find something to do all day with his friend, which is great.  He understands the need, just not all the reasons why, I think, since he hasn't taken ownership of his state of mind yet. 

It's funny to hear "it won't kill us" because I learned very early in our marriage--before I knew anything of ADD--that some stuff just doesn't really matter.  My mom was the kind of person that had a place for everything and everything was in that place because it was efficient and logical.  She spent a lot of time explaining why things were "just so."  So when I got married, I started to fold towels the way she did, but my DH folded them the "wrong way."  A friend of mine was watching me be my mom as it were on a particular day and said, "Is the world going to end if the towels aren't folded that way?!!"  I blinked.  She grabbed them from my hands (folded "wrongly") and stuffed them in the linen closet and shut the door.  "There. Done!" she says.  Moral of the story is, ADHD or no ADHD, these sorts of adjustments are called for in any relationship.  

Thanks for sharing.
 

I love

hearing how you are starting to become empowered...you go!

Taking care of me

I lived a roller coaster ride of 8 months with my ADHD partner and her ADHD+learning disabilities+oppositional defiant disorder+++ 3 year old son.  We were 1800 miles away from what I called home...so, my supports were limited.  We lived in the country with only one vehicle that was seldom available for my use as K was working while I was thrust in the role (at 52) of being a SAHM.  And I didn't have a clue!  Everything that Melissa describes in her book The ADHD Effect on Marriage was our life.  I was so angry, so beaten down emotionally, so exhausted--not a good thing because I have fibromyalgia (yes, I know it's intimately linked with ADHD, so I'm looking into that!).  I felt that the only recourse I had was to "escape."  My family helped me get a one-way ticket home, oh, yes, all my money was going to keep our family afloat!, and 2 weeks after my 53rd birthday, I got on that plane without so much as a "see you later" or even a glance from K.  And I was furious.  I cried all the way home.  I've been "home" now 10 months...and it has been an amazing 10 months of personal growth and new understandings, not only about myself, but about my family of origin (my father died during this time) and my relationships with K and her son.  As I have "returned to myself," I realize that I surrendered, abdicated, and more or less quit on ME to compensate, improve, make easier their lives.  And, you know what, no one really asked me to.  Instead of blaming myself, I'm taking responsibility for myself.  Being a caretaker has so many things to do with how I was raised, the perceptions I had of my life as a child.  I've had to "go back" both physically and emotionally to clean up my own act, to become the person I can respect and admire.  It's been a long haul.  And K has been less than patient or understanding about it all.  We may never be "involved" again, but I am proud that through it all, despite everything, we are still talking to each other, still sharing moments.  This gives me hope.  Uncovering myself, I realize that I have a very deep love for K.  It breaks my heart to know that I fell into "the trap" of treating her the same way the rest of the world does, when what I really feel is how amazing and courageous and loveable she truly is.  But I try to remind myself that I didn't know then what I know now.  It's all a process.  In her words, it truly "is what it is."  And now I do know.  I haven't finished the book yet, but already I see a HUGE difference in our interactions.  I am much calmer, not taking things personally, and taking every opportunity I'm given to be supportive and caring.  K, understandably, is very cautious--how many times have her relationships failed?  I hope that she can see at some point that no one from her past has taken the time to take care of themselves, get their ship righted so to speak, educate themselves about what's going on, and then try from this new starting point.  I am currently packing, getting ready to leave my home and family and make the long journey back to K and her son.  This time, I will live in my own space, have my own car and belongings (it's a long story why I didn't the first time), engage in some activities beyond work, and promote my small business.  Even if she will not entertain "getting back together, I care about her deeply enough that I'd like to be near by.  I won't go back to the horrible angry fighting and patterns.  AWARENESS IS EVERYTHING!  Never goes away..."to thine own self be true,"  and, yet, how easily forgotten in the face of such a sudden rush of the roller coaster............It took a lot for K to see me get on that plane so many months ago to set out on the journey of finding myself again.  I'm pretty sure she thought I'd never come back.  I don't know what the future holds, but now I am optimistic.  It's good to love and be loved.

Hole in the bucket's picture

AWESOME!  CONGRATS!  BEEN

AWESOME!  CONGRATS!  BEEN THERE DONE THAT!

If I ever get free... there is no going back.  There's too much me to find to spend time looking for someone else who could be a serial killer, Undiagnosed ADHDer, packing the Herpes, already married or a catholic!  Screw that.  Single for years if this boat sinks.

But for you... sounds like you have a plan and the wherewithall to pull it off.  Seriously, congratulations. 

Hole in the bucket- re: if I ever get free...

I hear that.  I cannot imagine trying to make another marriage "work".  I do it because he is the father of my children.  There will never be anymore "fathers", so if this goes belly up, single forever.  Not interested in trying to adjust my life to anyone else's issues/quirks/problems (except my kids, of course).  Too tedious.  I'll get me some straight up hot boyfriends, though!