Something that helped me this weekend

Hello, all.  

The last time I posted an update, I said I was doing pretty well.  And I was.  I had been doing pretty well for awhile, despite any real change in our marriage and definitely no change in his adhd management.  Plus the adhd kids we have here add another layer of adhd stuff.  But I was doing alright, for quite awhile.  I thought I had figured some things out, solved some things.  Turns out - no.  I am TIRED of the struggle.  Soooo sick of it.  But I am not leaving, so neither is the struggle.    

This past weekend, it came to a head for me.  And I was in - is depair too strong of a word?  I have done a LOT of emotional work on myself.  I have gotten rid of so much bitterness and feeling so jaded.  That is hard work and worth it.  But it is also constant, because when you live in the face of the never-changing chaos and damaging ways of relating, you can't let your guard down.  Instead I have a cycle of trying to distance myself and then falling apart with needs, and then trying to detach and then being sucked back in, and then focusing on other parts of life and then feeling lonely in those pursuits... And I got so frustrated with the stupid cycle this weekend.  And frustrated with myself for not being able to just settle in somehow and not be in the cycle anymore. 

So, this weekend I went on an internet searching spree.  And I found something that is associated with aspergers relationships, but it also *really* fits what so many of us are facing in longterm adhd marriages that have seen little or no change, especially the highly dysfunctional ones.  It is called Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome.  Here are some pieces of an article:

(From :)

"In a relationship between an AS and a non-AS person, the non-AS person may feel like they’re not having their needs met or feel ignored on an emotional level. They may feel like they don’t matter and are invisible to their AS loved one."

That's a whole lot of us.  Just trade AS for ADHD. 

And another quote:

"lack of emotional reciprocity

unable to show their empathy or compassion

may not be skilled at seeing another’s point of view

miss nonverbal emotional cues

may not recognize the consequences of their own actions

struggles with impulse control and emotional regulation

may not learn from experience

lack the ability to assess complex personal situations

don’t understand how their actions affect others"

Those are a lot of overlaps with what we experience in our marriages.  Maybe our spouses don't struggle as deeply or profoundly in those areas as an asperger person does, but they do have a number of these struggles to varying degrees.  And perhaps that list stems from other adhd reasons, or additional diagnoses, or insecurities, rather than asperger reasons, but the list can apply to both.  From this list, I see my husband in most of the items, while feeling  fully confident that he doesn't have aspergers.  Some of those he will even tell you himself that he is aware he can't do those things.  

Then I read about the effects this has on the neurotypical spouse longterm.  Ahem.  Do I really need to list those?  We list those all the time!  And we talk about how we feel about ourselves.  We doubt our value and it affects our very core over time.  That is exactly what these articles and podcasts discussed - the longterm emotional damage done to spouses of asperger  folks because there isn't reciprocal relationship.  That's my dynamic here.  Plus all the one-sided nature of who carries the majority of responsibilities, which also takes an emotional toll.  

It was all so validating and really hit home that I cried in relief and devoured hours of reading and podcasts about this.  It may be silly, but I needed to read that the issue is that it is "ongoing."  I mean, I already knew it was.  But I kept thinking that somehow I could find a way to see my marriage that would "click" and make it easier to carry.   Make the cyclical emotional mess go away.  I just needed a point of view!  A perspective!  A category!  It would help!  There must be a solution!  No.  The cycle is there because it keeps happening while I am merely trying to cope as well as I can.  

Labels can drive me crazy.  Do we have to have a clinical name for everything these days?   Labels sometimes hurt and get in the way, but I have to say that this label helped me see that the cycle isn't my fault.  It is the natural outcome to the relationship dynamic I have.  It takes the pressure off of me and the blame of "why can't you just accept it all already?!" that plays in my head.  It is perfectly normal to have needs that resurface when they are not met.