Is it anger or something else?

So, not quite sure how to start this, or what I want to ask or say, but maybe it will just materialize out of my thoughts... I am the non, DH is clearly trying. There are so many things that are happening that you would think would help, but then something happens and I go two steps back. I have made it abundantly clear that there are certain behaviors that will set us back, and DH has made huge strides in this area. I do appreciate it, and have even gone so far to say if you do this behavior, I don't want to know about it and if you do DECIDE to do it, then don't come near me. Well, two times this week, he has said "full disclosure-I bla bla bla'd". So, wth? Adhd, poor choice, or just don't care? We are in "this" place and this is supposed to "help" me when DH KNOWS this will not only be extremely upsetting for me, but will also push us two steps back! I am in the worst place possible for me, this is NOT the forum to discuss my feelings, frustration, my loneliness. I keep seeing people post how upset they are that all the non's complain and whine and how terrible it is for add/adhd to see the negative. I totally get that and if it was me with the problem, i would feel ten times worse reading all of the hostile comments. We had a terrible day, we had a terrible family gathering, a funeral, and the whole time I was there, I couldn't stop being angry. DH and I arrived separate. I chose that because I wanted to drop off kids before and make sure everyone was safe. DH said he would save a seat for me, he then texted me where he was seated and when I arrived, late, there wasn't enough room for me unless I squished in the pew... There are so many other things that could have been different, he could have moved to a row behind, or i could have been there on time, or i could have squished in, but I decided to sit two rows back and ponder the situation... Why text me if there isn't room? I did say, don't worry, I will find a seat after it begins if I'm late. It was just as much my fault, in fact, it was my fault because I didn't want to go. It's all his family. It's always his family. I have NO family here. Yes, he needed to be with his family. He needed to sit with his family, so why was I feeling mad? If it was my family, would I have been so thoughtless? No. I would have definitly found another seat. And then the biggest ahha moment was "I was at a funeral!". Thinking all about me!! All about how miserable I am. How awful I feel here (in this state) without any support from anyone. Without anyone to talk to, without any people that understand. I tried to say something to my sister the other day and she of course "wanted to tell me what HIS perspective might have been". Totally flippin useless. The simple fact is I don't care. I want it to stop. For the 1000th time, i want to say something 1 time. Something important, like above, and for it to actually MEAN something. My whole thought process is about me, me, me.... And i know this is wrong? Sigh, i just added to the whine. We each have read the book, DH has visited this site, my email has been opened, So posting here is possibly NOT anonymous for me. I have looked into the MLC that DF talks about and I don't see anything that describes the lost, soul crushing sadness, angy, bitterness that comes in waves. Again, i put me here. I will get myself out, but since I am not working, have no money, have no family close by, it may take me longer to find a way that lifts me up and supports me the way just knowing family is close by would help me feel. It is all up to me and I resent it sometimes. I am fighting for my independence and not depending on DH to "make or brake" me. It's soley my decision on how I want to proceed, I just haven't figured out how to figure it out yet.

It Could have been different

Sounds like you had a crappy day.  Here's the comment that stood out for me:  There are so many other things that could have been different.  But you've forgotten that the only things that could have been "different" are the things you could have done differently.  I fall into this trap all the time.  I want what I want, and want him to want it to. And since I haven't gotten what I wanted or needed for SO MANY YEARS, I'm getting a little impatient.  But we have had our needs ignored so many times over the years that we sometimes set up situations so they will happen the same way again, so we will be proven right about how we feel.  If being "with" your husband at the funeral was the most important thing to you, then you would have chosen to ride with him.  True?  So if getting the kids where they needed to be was the most important thing to you, then you chose that.  And why did that have to include being late?  At any rate, by choosing one thing, you kinda "gave up" the likelihood of getting the other thing, too.  If you're like me, you might have chosen to arrive separately to make it extra hard for your husband to satisfy your expectations.  Sometimes when my guy is trying very hard I will lay down another challenge, and another and another, just to make sure we're taking steps forward and none back.  Yet of course, eventually he "fails" which proves to me yet again it's all hopeless.    The ADDers suspect we're doing this and it makes them angry.  One of life's hardest lessons is "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."   I can tell by your posts that you are thinking long and hard and deep, and are getting somewhere.  So I'm going to be a little blunt and say something that sounds judgmental.  Why isn't your husband's family your family, too?  Haven't been married long enough?  When will it happen?  Cause they are.  Your family.  And you know your only "job" on the day of a funeral for one of your family members is to grieve and support others who are grieving.  Lastly, I can totally relate to this statement:  My whole thought process is about me, me, me.... And i know this is wrong?  Sometimes friends or the one family member I can talk to tell me - just give it a break.  Stop trying to figure it out.  do something nice for somebody else to take the heat off yourself.  And I sometimes feel telling me to stop thinking about my guy and our issues is like leaning over the side of a boat and telling someone who is drowning "Don't think about the water!"  when they should just haul you out of the ocean instead.   I totally understand this:  I just haven't figured out how to figure it out yet. That's where I am most days.  I suggest these questions:  Do you, deep down, want it to work?  Be really, really, really honest.  If yes, then are you willing to do what YOU need to do?  If yes, then, what if he never changes from how he is today?  With your new knowledge, and soul-searching, and honest work, can you love that person?  If yes, then get busy. 

One Last Thought

I think my greatest struggle over the years of living with my guy is the effort to be heard and seen.  Your story about the funeral seems to be about that struggle.  And I think I have developed just as many crappy "coping" mechanisms as my guy has.  The more you want something and struggle toward it, the more it eludes you.  Yet to just "let it go" feels like not being true to yourself and sticking up for yourself.  I have read Sherri and DF's posts about "getting it" and even though I parse each sentence, read between the lines and use all my intellectual powers, I'm just not "getting" it.  I think it has something to do with being a complete individual, emphasis on the individual.  A friend once advised me to not "take it to heart" when my guy said insensitive or hurtful things.  My reply was that I could easily learn that, but then I also wouldn't be able to "take to heart" when he said loving things.  So that's how I'm feeling about the "individual" business - I can absolutely do that.  But then I don't think I'll have any further need for marriage.  Scary step I'm not ready to take. 

I totally get that too. When

I totally get that too. When I hear compliments, I don't listen either. Ultimately, I believe the "getting it" is co-habitating in a very free-ing invironment. One that allows everyone to be who they are, the way they are, without any expectations, or depending on the other for "filling them up with self worth or self purpose". That comes from inside. It's almost like living and doing all of the things that make you happy and just the mere presence of your spouse adds a bonus. However, for me, finding and knowing how to "get there" is my current problem. I don't know what will make me happy - and that in itself is a problem because there is NO one thing that will make me or anyone, for that matter, happy. I am just guessing. They may have a totally different spin and I could be totally in another universe with this perspective. I also was thinking about why I wanted to be separate and why I showed up late yesterday, and it was because I didn't want to have to see anyone to keep up the facade that everything is "fine". I don't have that ability to fake "great" anymore... How selfish of me to think anyone would even care about me and my marriage at a funeral... How pathetic am I that I couldn't even muster up enough respect to pull it all together and show up on time. This person that I have become is a complete stranger to me. I have no excuse other than I am in a deep, dark, place.

I am so appreciative that I

I am so appreciative that I think we both get each other and don't know how to proceed. I know I don't want to live alone and break up my family. I also want to be seen and heard. I'm not quite sure how I can explain how I feel about DH's family. Yes, they are related to me by marriage, but i always feel like I'm outside looking inside. They have their own little "click", they are all fully connected, and I am uncomfortable talking with people that are sometimes vague, harsh and so extremely judgemental. They love you, but keep you at a distance too. I tried many years ago to reach out to a couple family members and these same members reached out to me about 6 years ago because I seemed so unhappy, so when I started confiding, it only made ME sound terrible. Made me sound selfish and they made that LOUD and CLEAR. So, I kept with my counselor, threw myself into my children, my marriage, and confided in very selective people. Those very selective people still don't understand how humiliating, frustrating, difficult, and heartbreaking this battle is. He is a good person, he wants top do good, but all he has seen growing up is a mom that waits on her man had and foot while belittling her and in his own special way treating her like she is stupid. I got the star treatment too. But, i am extremely independent and know what we are all capable of. I am not much af a care giver, and what I mean by that is, if DH is fully capable, then I don't "need" to do it. I am by no means making this easy for any one. I am drowning and have no idea which life line to pick. 15 years of a struggle when I dreamed of better, has worn me out. I really look up to you in that you have managed to stay sane. When i listen to you, i see a light at the end of a tunnel. But, when I try to apply it, I freeze. goes my best attempt goes my best attempt to help you get out of this "victim role" you are in...and what is keeping you stuck.

NONE of this is your DH's fault. You've made choices that have led you to where you are today. EVERYTHING that has happened, has happened because you chose to 'leave or stay', 'work or not work', 'move away from your family or not move away from your family'. First thing you need to do is GET that and stop being so angry at him for YOUR choices.

Second, put the shoe on the other foot with the funeral. I have been mad enough that I probably would have done the same thing. I came VERY close to not going to church the Sunday DH was scheduled to be baptized because I was mad at him (in general, all the time, not just for something specific). I would have felt horrible about ME if I hadn't gone and supported him during such an important you have to learn to put your anger aside and be there for him when he needs you. Whatever he 'did' that made you want him to 'not come near you' is a completely separate issue from him needing your support when a family member dies. Learn to separate his behaviors from the marriage...and stop letting them dictate YOUR choices as his wife. It is obvious you feel bad...and you know it was avoidable...but you were controlled by your anger. Now you're even more miserable for feeling unsupportive AND you're still angry about the original behavior on top of it all. It is HUMBLING and VERY VERY hard to put aside your anger and be a wife you can be proud of...but if you cannot do it..well, you just have to. You have to be true to YOU first. It isn't handing over your power to him, it is taking control of yourself.

As for the offense that made you not want to have anything to do with him...

A) he will continue to have ADHD and make mistakes. If you view each slip-up as some HUGE personal attack as he is on his way to working through it then you are going to hinder his progress completely. "it really hurts me when you ____, but I know you're trying and I know eventually you're going to overcome this. thank you for trying..I see how hard you're working" (UNLESS it is cheating...which you said he does not do, if I remember correctly, so otherwise...)

B) you even admit he's making progress. PROGRESS is PROGRESS. No matter how slow, if you're seeing progress then RELAX a bit and try to give him room to fall, get back up, and try again without knowing that you're standing there as he gets back up with the "I knew you'd never be able to do this and until you get it perfect, just stay away from me!" look on your face. You can love and accept him through his progress, even in the face of slip ups, without compromising your own boundaries. As a matter of fact, you MUST do this in order to have peace in your life and to grow an atmosphere where he knows you're going to love him even when he messes up, which will encourage him to keep trying harder. He must know that you have all of the faith in the world that he will eventually tackle his demon and be responsible for making the right choices when it comes to his marriage. This comes in the form of having Faith in God, not DH, for me.

NOTHING is the end of the world...and there is always another chance to do 'better' or 'different' today. Your goal needs to be letting go of the anger. FOR YOU. Once you realize that it has ZERO benefit in your life, and many negatives, then you'll see how useless it is. You'll drive the nearest cliff and throw it away like an old smelly sock!


I do feel the anger is still directed at me, from me, and, to not project it at him, I stay away. I'm not so sure I feel like a victim, although, it does look like it. My two finger typing really stops the flow of what is in my head. I do feel I have thrown myself one hell of a pity party this past weekend. I seem to be up one day and then down the next. I really, really am homesick for "my own people". And I have never felt this way before. I miss my old diggs. Yes, it is not his fault, but I am here because I thought I was invincible and I could make it anywhere. So many realities, all coming at lightening speed has me spinning. I call it processing. I do need to get busy, as gardner says, but get busy doing...?? That is where I am stumped. I know I need to start with me because it is me holding me back. I know I am in total control, but I can't see where the heck to go. I have to read the postings again, from both of you. They each say something more to me each time I read them. Thx guys. : ). Time to get my munchkins : )

Do you have a mental list of

Do you have a mental list of things that, if you could be more in control of yourself, you would do/stop doing? I used to beat myself up constantly over my anger, feel guilty for thinking (and saying) ugly things about my DH, and for feeling so controlled by his moods. If he was in a bad mood, I fell apart inside, convinced myself he was unhappy and was/or soon would be cheating. Seriously. It was bad.

These were tangible things I could focus on. Things I knew if I could just get 'there' I would be so much happier with myself. It seems to me like your issues are more about boundaries...and maybe the ability to forgive and trust? (re:the issue where he keeps doing X wrong and you don't want to know, just want him to self-discipline enough to stay away from you..which would, in itself, give you a clue).

I didn't learn to trust, I just learned to LET GO. Speaking in terms of that 'ton of bricks' earlier, I just finally got it that I was killing myself with my thoughts and worries...and it could all be for nothing. Maybe he will never cheat again. Maybe he'll cheat tomorrow. What the hell does me worrying about it today solve? Insane! I LET GO yet I still manage to have boundaries, to demand (through my actions) respect for myself, and my life didn't fall apart as I was so afraid of for so long.

The most important piece of advice I got (from Got It) is that nothing has to be resolved today. Just relax. I truly believe that deep down we all have all of our own answers and you probably do know what you need/want to be happy. The hard part is having the courage to do it. For me, I had to admit that my anger was destroying me, not protecting me, and that if I ever wanted to get a clear picture of where things were going to end up for me and DH, I had to let go of it. I hated myself. I hated my thoughts. I was ashamed. I see things I have posted here and think "who was that angry, ugly person?" Yes, my DH has done some very hurtful things to me. He has crossed boundaries within our marriage that he should not have. Ever. No matter what. I have no always come first in his life. NOW..turn all of those statements around...and the same holds true about me. I had to admit that. I had to stop keeping score ("but he cheated..twice...and he told me he chooses SD over what he has done is worse!") and just admit my faults (to myself mostly...I could say I had faults, but actually believing I was wrong to secretly rationalize them away was where I kept getting hung up).

Bottom line, you have to be someone you can be proud of. For you. For your children. Don't wait for him to change or accept you or what the hell ever  it is we wait around for for so many f'in years. Take your life back and let HIM follow in your dust for a change. It truly has NOTHING to do with him...what you've lost you can reclaim with or without his approval.


I can relate and understand

I can relate and understand everysingle thing. Mostly what you wrote about anger:...." For me, I had to admit that my anger was destroying me, not protecting me, and that if I ever wanted to get a clear picture of where things were going to end up for me and DH, I had to let go of it. I hated myself. I hated my thoughts. I was ashamed. I see things I have posted here and think "who was that angry, ugly person.....?" It's crazy..... I know this. Each and every second, all day long, awake, asleep, I know it... And yet I'm stuck. Been thinkin about my list and not one thing is coming to mind. I will have to get back to you on that. Not that you need it, but it is something I wonder about everyday. DF said Almost verbatim what you said. I am very lucky to be in the presence of great insight. I will think about my list more today.... Thank you : ). ((((hugs)))). Your doing a great job btw! You are in a good place. You old place was scary. : ) congratulations!

Arwen wrote about a

Arwen wrote about a conversation with her daughter and said the following: "Well, in order to deal with your dad's ADHD, I've had to amputate part of my soul.  I miss it." ..... This says so much to me. I feel lost to the depths of my soul. There IS a hole and that is the "happy" that you all speak about. "what makes you happy?" "find something to make you happy", "make a list".... This is it. Trying to fill up the empty hole, the "amputation" that has taken place. This is my ephinany today. My Aha moment.... My broken feeling is the empty hole... Thank you.

But, the 'amputation' is a

But, the 'amputation' is a choice, just like anything else. It isn't something anyone has to do, it is a choice and if you spend your life mourning it ("missing it") then you'll hinder your own growth and happiness. I, personally, cannot I feel that my husband cannot take away what isn't his to soul, my spirit, my happiness...unless I give it up. He didn't take anything from me all of those years, I just gave it up without realizing what was going on. THIS mindset (for you and for Arwen) KEEPS you still playing the victim to ADHD and no matter how you pretty it up, it remains true that you feel, deep down, unfulfilled and empty. That 'void' will never be filled because it is not real, it is only perceived. It isn't about filling voids and losing parts of your is just about taking responsibility for YOU and YOUR happiness and letting this other person do the same. As long as you see your marriage as a trade off (I have to give up part of who I am, my soul, in order to stay married) then you're never really going to be able to be happy. We all make compromises, but if you're feeling like you're losing that much, then that feeling will stand before you for the rest of your life...before anything else in your marriage. It will always be a speck on your glasses as you look through them at your husband. I just find it really sad to think that way. Even after everything I have been through, I don't see that having him be a part of my life, my best friend, as giving up anything.

I am so sad that I didnt

I am so sad that I didnt close out this site before I saw the first sentence because In a matter of seconds it took my epiphany away. I felt lighter, i felt enlightened, i felt a spring in my step and now I feel like I have been kicked in my face. The only choice I made was protecting myself, I chose to fight and fight and fight because of my DH's inability to be fair, to be thoughtful, to be mature, and make mature decisions and to help be my "friend" and help be a partner. That was not a fight I chose willingy. I chose to survive given the circumstances I was in and I chose to fight for the relationship I wanted. You statement implyies that I WILLINGLY CHOSE to do this. That I chose willingly to fight to keep my "self" intact. It was more of a necessity than a choice - you don't chose to allow someone to rape you... You fight. Fight, fight, fight to protect yourself. You are blaming me for where I am. I am at this site looking for help, not to be told I "chose" any of this. I DID NOT look him in the face on the first day we met and see all of my future with him - the good and the bad. Had I seen this or known this, there was NO flippin way I would choose this path, nor would I tell someone to choose it either. Nobody chooses heartache. Just like NO ONE CHOOSES ADD/ADHD. I know this and I am not going to imply that he chose any of this either. There is a loss, You feel it, try to figure out the source, and then DECIDE how to move forward. I saw something that helped me see this deep dark place I am in. I have been spinning and spinning, unable to move forward, and this helped today. Now, I am in an awkward position defending a word that serves no purpose in my ephinany today. This was something you hit me with the first time I posted on this site and I am going forward. Not backwards. I needed to know exactly where I stand before I can grasp anything that will help dig out of this hole. The LOSS of soul is what resinated with me. The person I am today is no where close to the person I was 15 years ago. "soul" to me is who we are, peace, comfort, drive, ambition, strength, love, acceptance, heart and love. Much of that has been long buried in struggle, fighting, surviving, and hard work. I MISS knowing my soul... I miss feeling all of those things. This is a light bulb moment for me and it helps me to see a direction towards what I once had. It helps me to see the light, it helps to put in perspective what i need to work on to be happy again, to find me, to take care of me. AMPUTATE is another word for LOSS - i did lose parts of my soul, and I MISS them. It simple. Its direct and to the point. What you and I were looking for was entirely different. I don't wish to play semantics on the meaning of words with you today. I don't think I ever questioned any one word or phrase that helped you "get it." each and every little word or phrase will mean something very different for each person, and today, this happens to be little piece of sunshine for me. Just me.

Please understand...I would

Please understand...I would NEVER blame you, or anyone else, for ending up 3, 5, 10, 15 years into a marriage that is affected by ADHD and say "you shouldn't have acted/done/reacted" in ANY way. We each 'survive' in our own ways. We each learn to cope (or not) in our own ways. We each have unique situations and experiences and ways in which ADHD has affected us. I do not, nor would I EVER begrudge, anyone their place in the journey to finding peace and happiness in their lives again. Nor would I EVER want to steal a ray of sunshine from anyone who was starting to see a light at the end of their personal tunnel. Please forgive me if you feel that is what my post was trying to do or imply.

Your comparing your situation to a rape, is in itself, proof that you're not understanding what I'm trying to say. It is not easy to understand until you're ready. I know this, I heard it, read it, and was told 1000 times by various people over the course of the last 1 1/2-2 years the same thing I'm trying to explain (apparently not very well) to you. People who are raped are truly victims. They had no choice in what happened to them. As long as you continue to feel that you've had no choice (other than to 'fight' and 'survive') then you're never going to be able to see that OTHER choices have been there all along. I, too, fought. I, too, felt like my life surely depended on making this crazy situation sane. I, too, felt like it was a matter of 'surviving' his ADHD. It isn't. It simply ISN'T. It was, for me, a matter of recognizing that what I had done (fighting for and surviving my marriage) were EXACTLY what brought on my own misery. We DO have choices. We make them everyday. Although it put me in a HORRIBLE place for many, many years I chose to 'fight' too. Surely this next time I chew him out or berate him or give him the cold shoulder will change him and bring about the marriage I've always wanted...that's what I told myself. That was how I 'fought', by manipulating, controlling, berating, parenting, chastising, and giving the cold shoulder to the man I claimed to want a partnership with. I have never in my life had the strength, until now, to actually BE a partner to him in spite of his ADHD. It is humbling. It takes courage and faith. It takes FULL ON acceptance of my fault in the marriage and it requires I hold myself 100% accountable for what I have done and the choices I have made. You stayed...therefore, in a very real sense you are responsible for what you are going through. I don't mean you DESERVE it. I don't mean it is "What you get" for staying. I am just simply saying that we all stay and we all blame and we all point the finger and we all wallow in the misery of what could have been, what shitty realities we have, what horrible mistakes our spouses have made, and declare to the ends of the Earth that we've done everything humanly possible for this other person and DAMN THEM! nothing ever changes.

About 4 weeks ago I was where you are. Please get that. Regardless of our unique issues in our marriages, I COMPLETELY identify with where you are. I know what is holding you back. I know what you're afraid of. I KNOW you have the answers to turn your life around. I KNOW that your husband has nothing to do with where you are now (dark place) and where you want to be (happy place) in the sense that he didn't choose it for you and he cannot keep you from it. You can scream from the mountains that his behavior drove you to where you are, and technically you would be right...but emotionally this is a very wrong way to look at it. YOUR RE-ACTIONS drove you to where you are. Until I finally got it that I had gotten me to where I was and that I could get me out I felt exactly like you do. I am not saying that the answers are universal and that everyone's solution lies within my own...but I do know that as long as you feel you are a victim of ADHD you will always be one. I know that mental disorders, addictions, etc affect everyone that cares about the person that has them. I am not saying ADHD doesn't affect definitely still does. But, it affects me in the same aspect as if, say, my husband had diabetes. I know he has it. I see it manifest itself sometimes, there are parts of it that affect me directly that I have to learn to accept and others that do require some extra work on my part to manage (such as finances) but I no longer wake up under the cloud of it and worry and wonder "what's next" because I refuse to play that role anymore. If it, God forbid, manifests itself (i.e. if my husband refuses to control the parts of it that are deal breakers...and he KNOWS what these are) in ways that are not acceptable, then I will not stay in the marriage anymore. Either way, I am not going to be a victim of it anymore.

I can tell you are struggling and I swear I do not want to make you feel bad or make you feel like I am behind you pulling you off of the ladder you're trying to climb. My ONLY intentions are to help. I KNOW you have the power within you to turn all of this around and believe it or not, your DH doesn't have to change a damn thing for you to start to find yourself again. MANY people have the positive experience that once they break the cycle and get off of the roller coaster and find peace and joy in their lives again, that their husband's are much more eager to come along. The more certain they are that they'll get acceptance and patience along the way, the harder they will try. The more they feel your happiness depends on them, the more certain they are to never live up to that expectation.

Ok..I've rambled enough. Again, please try and see what I am saying from another point of view. I never dreamed you would see it as me blaming you or saying you asked for any of what you're going through...I have a ton of compassion for anyone who is truly trying to get to a better place. I am sorry if my advice isn't helping. Please feel free to disregard everything I say, if that is the case. It is only my intent to help. I know we all get there in our own time and in our own way.

Pjloops you are my hero

Finally - FINALLY somebody is refusing to drink the spousal Kool-Aide offered here.  Accepting reality is the touchstone of mental health. "Nobody chooses heartache" - exactly.  Thank you by Pjloops! You are my hero!

Yeah, obviously those of us

Yeah, obviously those of us here who aren't clinging to our bitterness and resentment are definitely doing something wrong. If being your hero means I have to blame my misery on others for the rest of my life, thank God I will never make your list.

Reality check

"But, it affects me in the same aspect as if, say, my husband had diabetes."
If this were true, why have you dedicated the past 19 months to writing so openly about your DH's alarming and deceitful behavior and how terrible things are in your life? Maybe you should take a look back at the amazing bulk of truly sad testimonials you've contributed to this site. I think you need a reality check. 

I have been a member of this

I have been a member of this site for barely a year. Check. Anything I wrote, I wrote because that was where I was at during that time in my life. Check. I am no longer a 'truly sad testimonial' writer because I shed the victim role and took control of my life back from ADHD. Check. I didn't say I always had control over my anger and my own emotions, but I do now and finally realize that my misery was of my own making and so is my happiness. Check.

I am so very blessed to have been able to move out of the victim role into a much better place. Still married to the same man, with the same issues, but I am no longer angry and bitter. I smile with joy in my heart and peace in my mind. I will pass the reality check onto you. When you let go of the resentment and anger (and you haven't been in the relationship for YEARS!), get back to me. You seem to be happier carrying around the same bitterness and resentment that apparently keeps you warm at night. Good luck with that.

arwen's picture

reacting to damage

I couldn't agree more that clinging to bitterness and resentment is a mistake.  But I also agree wholeheartedly that "Accepting reality is the touchstone of mental health."

My experience certainly confirms Sherri's view that each of us controls our own happiness is true.  My experience also confirms Pjloops and Chris's view that "Nobody chooses heartache".

What are we really talking about -- pain?  or how we react to pain?

We are not able to control whether other people inflict damage on us.  But most of us can control how we react.

I've observed that some people react to this damage with anger -- others with sadness -- others with fear --  others with denial -- some disciplined or oblivious few don't react -- a very few react in other ways.  I've observed that some ways of reacting may make the pain from the damage more or less intense, or more or less long.

It seems to me it is reasonable and sensible to try to put limits on the opportunity others have to damage us.  It also seems to me it is reasonable and sensible to try to modify our own reaction to damage if it will help us deal with the damage in some way.

But *how* each of us chooses to limit the opportunity for damage and *how* each of us chooses to modify our reactions to damage can vary all over the map.  Some people leave relationships in order to eliminate entirely a person's opportunity to hurt them.  Others stay in the relationship but find ways to limit the damage.  Others have found such effective ways to modify their reactions that they don't feel a need to limit the opportunity for damage at all.  And so on.  Different decisions for different situations and different people. 

Each person must decide for himself what combinations work best, so it is natural that we seek the experience and ideas of others to enrich our own store of options.   So I think it's great that there is a diversity of perspectives here.  But I think it's also important for us to keep in mind that no single approach is a silver bullet for all.

I'm really glad that Sherri's strategy of reacting to damage by controlling differently how she respond to it seems to be working well for her.  I'm really glad that Chris finds the "warts and all" perspective useful, too.  I don't think it's *necessary* for either to also adopt the other's approach, although who knows?  it *could* be *beneficial* to combine them. 

What I believe is *not* helpful is rejection of a general concept based primarly on the question of whether it is useful or not in one's own unique situation.  If the "warts and all" concept doesn't work for Sherri, that doesn't mean that Chris can't still find it effective.  If Sherri's emotional discipline isn't helpful to Chris, that doesn't mean that Sherri can't get any mileage out of it.

Surely our experiences with our ADHD partners who are so very different from us in some ways and yet so attractive to us in others have given us enough insight to accept that great minds don't *have* to think alike.

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore


Bummer, really?

Being a hero, is clinging to bitterness and blaming others for all our problems....How is this comment to be interpreted other than how it is written? I am not clinging to bitterness, and I am not blaming others for my misery, nor will I do it for the rest of my life....? Ouch! I "got" the full intent of what Arwen was describing. What i saw was someone who shared the same "place" where I know all to well, and I am encouraged because she is still with her DH and that spoke volumes to me. She is whole heartedly in her marriage, i have read her posts and remembed what she has posted and I remember all too well all your posts. We all experience all emotions, up one minute and down the next. I do remember posting the "bulk" of my anger and disappointment was SOLEY on me - remember - you both said I am a victim of MY own doing - i am not blaming everyone else for my problems. I am not blaming DH, i am more concerned about me and worried about getting me on track. I could care less what he is doing right now because if "I" don't figure this out then no one gets happy. This is my responsibility to fix "me." I own it and I am not relying or waiting on the actions of DH to "let go" of my anger. i have isolated to not inflict my "self" on others. I have been extremely respectful even when not feeling it (his drinking) and know full well only I can change. However the change doesn't just happen because I "choose" ( your word) for it to... If it was that easy, then I wouldn't be here. All my problems would be gone if I "simply chose for it to be." that "word" didn't do it for me, and it didn't the first time you said it to me, and it won't the next thirty times because it just doesn't carry the weight it seems to hold for you. And, I am fine with that. We all need to find our way, together, respectfully.

No, but I can see how you

No, but I can see how you took it that way and I apologize. My comment had nothing to do with you. 'chris' is known to troll my posts, be critical of ALL with ADHD, ALL who think there is a chance for happiness with someone with ADHD, and is bitter and angry...and has been out of the ADHD relationship for a good while. If you don't know the history I can see where you were confused and took what I said as about you. I accept that what I have to offer isn't what you need right now...i truly do wish you peace and joy. (((hugs))) Sherri

This says what I was trying to say much better...

From Chapter 8 of CoDependent No More by Melody Beattie:

"Many codependents, at some time in their lives, were true victims- of someone's abuse, neglect, abandonment, alcoholism, or any number of situations that can victimize people. We were, at some time, truly helpless to protect ourselves or solve our problems. Something came our way, something we didn't ask for, and it hurt us terribly. That is sad, truly sad. But an even sadder fact is that many of us codependents began to see ourselves as victims. Our painful history repeats itself. As caretakers, we allow people to victimize us, and we participate in our victimization by perpetually rescuing people."

We get hurt. We react...usually poorly. I remember a lot of confusion for many years wondering "what has happened to my husband..and how can I get back what we had?" I think, for me personally, I stayed for so long because I focused on 'what was' and thinking I could somehow resurrect that as opposed to accepting my present for what it was and dealing accordingly. When the change didn't come, of course, I got frustrated...and angry. I got 'stuck' thinking surely there was a way to change everything back to the way it was when things weren't so painful. I got 'stuck' thinking that my way of dealing with it was reasonable and legitimate. The person I live with today is who I deal with now. I got a really bad glimpse of "Mr. ADHD" when I hurt myself Friday and had to have him take me to the ER. He was most inconsiderate, complained the entire time, and even drove me to tears at one point with his complaining. It was obvious I had inconvenienced him. It was the evening, he didn't take his meds, and I jokingly thought to myself later "next time, slip and fall and nearly break a hip EARLIER in the day!" But, he is who he is. He will learn from each experience (past and present) or he won't. I am not looking for the man I married, I am finally getting to know the man I am married to now all over again. It isn't the ideal reality, but I love him and I hope that in the end we can make each other happy again. I also gave up the old ways of coping and reacting and am replacing them with new, healthier ways. I did this for my marriage, but mostly for myself. We do not like ourselves when we are angry and bitter...I think we can all agree on that. I was sick of not liking myself.

Just wanted to share I read it this morning I thought of you and thought maybe someone else's words could explain what I'm trying to say. I'm sorry for everyone who has to go through this. You, me, and anyone else. But it doesn't have to be this way. ((((HUGS)))) Thinking of you.

Counselor never said victim? Post Traumatic stress -yes

Thanks for thinking of me and writing the quote from the book. I still don't see myself as in the victim role. Or the co-dependent role. I see him there. I am more of the "my arms and legs aren't broken, i can do it myself, get off me - leave me alone" type person. I have never been known to make romantic dinners, set up weekends away to " reconnect" or the type to buy fancy frilly enticing things to "spark thing up." i know, I sound like a real catch! (cough, cough, cough) The only thing I have ever asked for, or wanted, was to be treated as an equal, for it to be understood that I have a brain, and KNOW that I can take care of myself, and stop acting like a "puppy" dog. I have always said "be your own self!". Stop all the "poor me" stuff. I do not want to be waited on hand and foot, I do not want to do the same. (i had a traumatic experience from childhood where a step brother had a crush on me and did EVERYtHING for me to try to get me to LIKE him and give him sex - which NEVER happened, but it was everyday, for over 4 years until he moved out. It was smothering and clausterphobic and it was the most discusting and suffocating environment). DH walks on eggshells, and I WISH he didn't. Just be your own self, stand TALL, let's respect each other, and ASK for what you need and want. Don't just do. ASK me. TALK to me. I don't try to change me to get him to be "better." I still dont "see" exactly what the exact cure is. I have seen this weekend that i need to fully embrace where I live, I need to fully embrace that I am here, in this marriage, and that I need to move forward and not go backwards. Something clicked this weekend that helped me see that it's not his fault that he grew up here. I need to stop blaming "this place" and try to find things that may make it a nice place to live. I need to find things to do with the kids and him that will be fun and make good memories. - I just miss the visual beauty of where I am from. Anyway, need to change that. - We had a huge blow out this weekend. He wanted to go watch the game at "family's" house - which means "drinking." I lost it. I said "drink or not drink" and he said "he hadn't decided yet." so i said " 1, our marriage has suffered because of drinking, 2, our children's lives have suffered because of your drinking, 3, i have to leave early when you start to drink (for years have done this), 5, i can't talk to you when you have been drinking, 6, i don't want to be anywhere near you when you are drinking... So HOW does this ADD anything positive to our life together!?" He said that he should have the right to choose and that giving him an ultimatum will set him up for failure. " how is this not a NO BRAINER? " Whatever, I said, if you "choose" to drink, then we are done. I said ADHD is NOT your fault and I can fight this and deal with this, but I WILL not deal with BOTH. One is a choice and one is not a choice." So, he did not go, but i didnt want him to NOT go, i just didnt want him to drink. So, he will blame me in the future because he will now (predictably) stop going to his family's house and play the "poor me" game and say he lost his friends years ago because of me (his choice to not see them), and now he will not be close to his family (because they all drink). No one said he can't go, just don't drink. My whole family on my side doesn't drink! Not a problem. Life goes on and on and on with out drinking. Watching him do things and then blame me in the future will drive me nuts too. I am still not seeing clearly. Still in the middle and trying to process. (also, most of the counselling, over 20 years (bunch before I met him and then 10 years since we have been together) of counseling was to deal with the above trauma, then some other family trauma, along with marriage adhd help too). He is currently seeing someone now. Adhd specialist. It is working too. : ) - i was just looking back at the beginning of your posting and - i think I am not trying to get our marriage "back" to what it once was , because it was clearly disfunctional in the beginning too. It needs to get to an even ground. And, I wasn't always against drinking, i too used to enjoy drinking. It's just after the kids and recognizing that he gets miserable and hostile while drinking and that needs to stop.

I hope you identified with

I hope you identified with the part from the book about how we don't ask for any of this...and how we are truly, at some point, victims of our husband's disorder. I wanted you to take that away from it too. I think, regardless of how it is plays out, there are long term affects of that...for you it may very well be PTSD.

For years we went through the same cycle...he would drink casually, then more heavily, then WAY too much and I would put my foot down and insist he quit...or else. So, I too have dealt with the 'boundary' crossing of alcohol abuse. He was under the (mistaken) impression that as long as he could quit for weeks at a time, he didn't have a problem. Frequency isn't the sole determining factor in alcoholism. I have always been 100% convinced that he has an alcohol abuse problem.

In the last few years, when he drinks I can really tell that it hinders his ability to function (and care that he isn't functioning) and for the longest time, he would become very hostile the day AFTER he drank (when it was coming out of his system??). All of this was prior to his ADHD diagnosis. I think that for my DH, his drinking ties in with how well his symptoms are controlled by his meds. Does your DH know/care that drinking exacerbates the ADHD? Sounds to me like he has a family full of people who have developed a 'poor' way of coping. I think the better controlled the ADHD is the less the desire to drink as well.

I am glad you're taking steps to improve the things that you cannot readily change (where you live) and also that you're clearly defining boundaries. If he chooses to drink, maybe you could (for now) stipulate that he does not do it in front of the kids and that if he wants to spend time with his family that includes drinking, your choice is to not participate at all. You nor the kids. It does not put you in a parenting role of saying "You cannot drink" but it also removes you from having to be exposed to him while he is doing it. I assume that ideally you'd like for him to be able to drink, but not abuse it or not be hostile when he does it? Maybe the hostility comes from guilt he feels for simply doing it. I know that my DH is drinking again (YAY..not!) but he is much less hostile because I have chosen, for now, to let him 'make his own bed' so to speak. I would love for him to be able to have the freedom (and self control) to drink occasionally and the only way I know for him to learn his own limits and boundaries is to let him set them for himself. I know it could result in him reaching a point of no return, and since alcoholism isn't something I'm willing to live with either, I know it is a huge risk...but if I don't let him do this on his own, then I will never know for sure. I used to enjoy drinking too. I kept a bottle of wine in the fridge and enjoyed a glass a night or two a week. I stopped that for a very long time because it felt like 'condoning' his behaviors and it made me feel like a hypocrit for telling him he could not drink. I have started buying a bottle occasionally again simply because it is something I enjoy that I gave up 'because of him' (not really, but you know what I mean) and I want to be free to live my life the way I see fit, just as I want him to, and I am not hurting anyone...and I certainly have changed my mind about feeling like it is giving him permission to stomp on my boundaries about how I want my children exposed to alcohol. Drinking until you're puking in the back yard...not going to happen. Having a glass of wine/beer occasionally...not a problem.

arwen's picture

two points

There are two things in your post that I would like to respond to.

"...let's respect each other, and ASK for what you need and want. Don't just do. ASK me. TALK to me."

This is an area where my ADHD spouse and I have struggled at times, especially during the winter when he's coping with SAD as well.  What I've been able to determine is that it's not really a respect issue exactly -- it's what is termed a "boundary" issue.  As near as I can make out, it goes something like this:  "We share our home, we share our food, we share our money, etc. etc.  -- therefore there is for all intents and purposes no boundary between us".  My spouse doesn't *consciously* think this way, intellectually he knows we are not the same person, but on a subconscious level we're too "joined at the hip" in too many parts of our lives for him to be aware of me as a separate person with separate feelings, separate motivations, separate reactions, separate choices.  And since he frequently doesn't think consciously (a common ADHD trait) about interpersonal interactions, especially  about old, "background" stuff like his wife of 35+ years, it falls to his subconscious to deal with me.  Since his subconscious doesn't recognize I'm separate from him, it doesn't see any need to communicate.

Please understand, my husband doesn't see his mental process this way.  He doesn't see his mental process much at all.  He has no idea what his subconscious is thinking.  He would say that he doesn't see me as "background" and knows he needs to communicate with me.  The perspective I've outlined above is what I've pieced together from long, acute observation.  He definitely treats me differently when he is consciously focused on me than when he isn't.  He definitely is able to, and does, communicate far better (more completely, more consistently, less emotionally) in a formal "meeting" environment that is specifically intended to provide the opportunity to communicate.  Outside of that environment, he tends to assume I know whatever he knows, that he's told me things he hasn't, and that I will process this knowledge the same way he does to arrive at the same conclusions/decisions.

In order to respect each other, you first both have to have an agreed-upon concept of what respect is, what it means, how it is manifested.  But then you also have to look at each other through an undistorting lens of understanding.    If you continue to judge his behavior by your own brain function, and he judges yours by his, you are doomed to misinterpretation and respect will suffer.

"...i didnt want him to NOT go, i just didnt want him to drink."

Let me start by saying that I totally agree with you that in order for the two of you to cope with his ADHD, his drinking needs to be under control, which may require abstaining at some times, or even all the time.  My spouse never had a serious drinking problem, only a mild one on rare occasion during periods of high stress, thank goodness, but I agree from those experiences that it can add a lot of complications and additional problems to an already difficult paradigm.  I hope you realize that substance abuse is one of the ways a person with ADHD attempts to self-medicate, and many people with ADHD (because of the way their brains deal with dopamine) find it extremely difficult to either abstain or moderate their drinking.  (Some find one harder than the other, for others the opposite holds.  My spouse finds it easier to moderate his drinking than to abstain, but someone who has had a more serious drinking problem may find abstaining easier -- I don't know.) 

My point is that while you are right, drinking is a choice, it *may* have the additional insidious element of addiction, as it sometimes does with ADHD -- which I'm sure your spouse did *not* actively choose -- and may be very difficult to combat.  In order to be successful in dealing with his drinking, it will help to be very careful about determining what is "pure" choice and what is chosen out of addiction.  It may be easier for him to choose to not be present in a situation where drinking will occur than to avoid the drinking when it's going on all around him, which is what may have motivated his recent decision.  It seems to me that some credit is due him, even if he does pout about it some?  And perhaps once he has established control over his drinking, he can maintain the willpower to not drink around his birth family for a limited time.  In your shoes, I can't be sure, but I think I would have said to my husband that I appreciated the maturity of the choice he made, and I would have suggested that I would be happy to help him reach the point of being able to visit his birth family without drinking -- my spouse would respond favorably to such a sentiment, and would be encouraged and motivated to pursue such a course.  I understand your spouse may react totally differently, so you may need to craft your own version of positive reinforcement.

Good luck, my heart goes out to you!

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Thanks for insight

Thanks to both of you Arwen and Sherri. I really appreciate your thoughts. I will actually have to see if it is an addiction thing. He doesn't do it here in the house anymore. Only at the family's house. It is touchy subject. And, he has said it calms his brain down. (however, it just riles him up and makes him louder, obnoxious, and hyper) I just am at a point where I am trying to move from anger to calm, and then move forward towards re-establishing contact-connection. I know that I can not deal with these two issues simultaniously. That was conveyed to him this weekend. I have been able to actually look at him at the dinner table, so I am moving forward. I think the alcohol issue (not drinking) won't last forever, but I need to feel it WILL last for a long time... For now. I think you are so right Arwen when he avoided the situation to avoid the drinks altogether. Easier for him. I must do as you said and appreciate his decision. That is my HARDEST hurdle too. When I praise or appreciate I feel he stops! I need to stop thinking that way, too. Catastrophizing... Arwen, I went back and read through many of your postings and I really identified with your temperment and your past anger and past frustration. The explanations from your point of view on how the brain processes information is helpful too. Helped to find compassion for Adhd person. I would actually like to say I am in a place where I can see I am the one behaving poorly at this point. He is doing all the right things and TODAY, (not everyday), I feel Like the stubborn little kid that refuses to budge. One of the biggest hurdles at this point is the communication. The sit down in a "meeting" environment sounds so logical and SO grown up. I would have no idea what to put on my list. Feels like meeting a complete stranger. Did you ever feel that way. How did you "get to the table" when you were at your low point? I know you separated, I wonder if that was the "forum" where the healing began? I wouldn't know how to get there from here...? He is in the house 24 hours a day. It feels like we are always together and the "kid in me" right now wants to avoid him at all costs.

I think getting 'there' from

I think getting 'there' from 'here' is something that just happens in its own time and in its own way. For me it was a culmination of many things, a lot of info coming at me that I KNEW held the key to my happiness, a lot of me asking myself "who are you and why are you acting this way?" and just being sick of being so negative. One thing I will say that leads me to believe you're getting there is your awareness of what you feel you're doing to hinder things. You cannot stop doing what you aren't aware of. When you are finally able to separate your anger from his behaviors then you'll get there at lightening speeds. When you finally realize that your anger is hurting you instead of protecting you, you'll get there. It changes nothing. It helps nothing.

Ask yourself too...why are you avoiding him? To punish him? (I know that is why I do it to my DH) You're still there. You haven't walked away or asked him to leave. I strongly suspect that you love him more than you know. More than you wish you did, like many of us sometimes. I think you're afraid. Letting go was one of the scariest things I ever had to do...but destroying my health and my own sanity wasn't working well for me either.


arwen's picture

your feelings are natural

Pjloops, I so sympathize with your situation, and your feelings are perfectly understandable, I've felt similarly in the past!  Like, simultaneously, "Thank you for the crumbs from your table", and "Oh good, my turn to be unreasonable".  I've often thought that while ADHDers are driven to distraction, their spouses are driven to irrationality in responding to their less comprehensible behaviors.

I don't think you are imagining it, that when you praise, he stops behaving the way that elicited the praise.  My husband and I have tended to have the same kind of problem with praise and rebounds -- I had to learn to find that very particular point where I was not praising so enthusiastically that he felt he'd conquered his problem completely yet so faintly that he would be miffed or discouraged.  For my spouse, and a lot of folks with ADHD, everything's a "black-and-white" issue -- no shades of grey.  So when I'd praise too high, he'd feel like a complete success, job all done, and when I praised too low or not at all, he'd feel like a complete failure, felt he would never accomplish the goal and would give up.  So I found my job was to say, basically, "You did a great job this time <brief pause so he can enjoy the praise>, this is a good start <brief pause so he can think about what "start" implies>, can you remember what you did different so you can keep doing it?"  This would give him the praise he craved, while emphasizing that he was *not finished* with his problems, and focusing his thinking on how to repeat his success, instead of just basking in the "now", as many ADHDers are prone to do.  In a sense, praise for some ADHDers is a bit like an addictive drug, so you have to be very careful with the dosage, so to speak -- it needs to be doled out in small even doses for these folks.

Regarding the formal meetings -- it *does* feel something like meeting a complete stranger, initially, it's a very artificial construct for marital communication.  What got us both "to the table" was the fact that what triggered our separation was a communications problem that really blew up, an expensive straw that broke this camel's back.   (I was ill on the day we had service people at the house to take care of some yard maintenance, I informed my husband that I had previously instructed the service people that they were supposed to do strictly a, b and c only; and I specifically, emphatically and clearly charged him to *make sure* that under absolutely no circumstances whatsoever were they to do x, y and z [I actually was that explicit]-- when he conveyed these instructions to them, they said, "we won't charge any extra for x, y and z", so my husband told them to go ahead with x, y and z, and never said anything further to me because he didn't want to "bother" me while I was sick!  When I recovered from my illness many hours later and saw what had been done , and what landscaping had been ruined as a result [to which he was totally oblivious although it looked hideous to everybody else], to the tune of roughly ten thousand dollars, I completely "lost it".  "What part of 'under absolutely no circumstances whatsoever' do you not understand"? shrieked at about 1000 decibels was the mildest thing I said, I'm afraid, the whole neighborhood knew that a nuclear meltdown was in progress.  Mostly I cried hysterically for I don't know how long -- many many hours over the course of many days -- it was the culmination of months of increasing problems and I just couldn't deal with it anymore.)  I had been as specific and clear as I felt I could possibly have been, and we still weren't communicating.  It was obvious that whatever we were doing wasn't working, and if we didn't find a way to communicate effectively, we were finished.  It was my husband's counselor who suggested the meeting format, since we knew that when my husband was in meetings at work, he didn't suffer the same kinds of communications problems -- he had some minor issues occasionally but nothing that caused any major problems.   We started the meetings after several months of our separation, and they definitely were the only hope for improvement.  Did we need to be separated for them to work?  It's really hard to say, even now.  There's no doubt that my husband needed *some* kind of strong shock to wake him up to the realities of the problems, before he could participate in the meetings in the most committed and useful way, but I don't think we *needed* to be apart in order for the meetings to be helpful (although I *do* think that being away from the stress of interacting with him all the time made it *easier* for me to control my emotions and be more patient and reasonable).

As far as what to put on your list -- my agenda ranged all the way from logistics to fundamental problems and back to near-trivia.  While we were separated, I felt it was important for him to know what conversations were taking place between me and our kids, so that was sometimes on the agenda.  My list covered bills, who had what doctor appointments when, the dog's upcoming vet visit,  etc, the logistics of routine life, as needed.  Sometimes we related a funny story or joke we'd heard, or a news item we thought would be useful to the other partner.  And at just about every meeting, we tackled some serious issue -- listening, saying what you mean, not judging hastily, consideration, trying to understand each other's thought processes,  memory pitfalls.  (But it can't be *only* heavy-duty problem solving, that's just too much weighty thinking -- you need appetizers and desserts alongside your meat and potatoes, so to speak.)  Sometimes we only talked about the serious issue for 10 minutes in a meeting, because I'd say something and he'd be really trying to listen and understand, and then he'd need a *lot* of time to digest it and think about it before he could respond, so we'd defer further discussion to the next meeting.  Some topics took months to reach some kind of final (or sometimes only semi-final) determination.  Sometimes we didn't find solutions to one issue before another one became more urgent and we'd have to shift gears (he couldn't deal with more than one at a time), we'd have to postpone further discussion on the original issue indefinitely while we addressed the new one.  I kept a notebook where I noted my agenda items and took notes, so we could come back to previous matters as needed.  Sometimes we didn't cover my whole agenda before he'd run out of mental energy, so I had to make sure the most critical items got covered first.  Having the meetings forced *me* to prioritize more and be more clear in my own mind about my perspectives, in order to work with him so that he could prioritize more and be more clear in *his* mind about what we were discussing.  Later on, as we successfully dealt with various basic problems, I tended to shift the focus to "the most recent problem" that had manifested itself, since it was easier for him to recall more recent events and therefore had a more straightforward basis for discussion. 

But the manner in which we handled it was really very like a business meeting.  Here are the things you want to talk about.  Here are the things I want to talk about.  No shouting, no nastiness -- you wouldn't do that in a business meeting!  Professional decorum helped provide a structure for unemotional interaction.  Everybody gets a chance to voice their viewpoint. Everybody has to take the other guy seriously and treat them respectfully.  Yes, it doesn't feel very natural at home with your spouse to interact this way -- but for us, removing the emotion was key, because when my spouse gets emotional, his neurotransmitters get scrambled something fierce.  So it may not have felt natural -- but it worked, so who cares?  Eventually, of course, it became more natural and less stilted as we got accustomed to the new dynamic.  Now, we only have regular scheduled meetings once a week,  primarily for logistics, but when we need to address a special problem, we still use "meeting mode" for those discussions.

If right now, you want to avoid your spouse -- do!  It's pointless to "come to the table" grudgingly.  Get it out of your system (probably not totally, but enough to go forward), and if you need to, get away by yourself for a while, take a break for a day or two if it will help, and if you can.  (Sometimes, you have to *make* time/money for such things, sometimes the break is that important.)  You need to have your head straight to deal with this --  acknowledge the legitimacy of your feelings -- give yourself permission to be disgruntled -- and then move forward.  Good luck!

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Thanks! I would love to

Thanks! I would love to "know you" and just sit and talk and talk and talk..... There is so much I identifiy with and your approach is something that looks like it would work. For both of us. It doesnt look easy, but it looks and sounds functional and fair. Btw, how did you fix the lanscaping? Is it still the same?
arwen's picture

Pjloops, sorry I missed this

I've often wished I could talk to face to face with some of the folks in this forum, yourself included -- but I also can appreciate why the policies don't allow it.  I am so thankful, though, for the medium of the internet and sites like this.  Before, there was nobody to talk to about these things, and no way to exchange knowledge or ideas -- if I ever tried talking to people about it, most responded like I was a lunatic or an alien from outer space -- there was no understanding.

I'll be the first to agree that "my approach" wasn't easy -- I don't think I can objectively say whether it's fair, I'm too close to it for that, obviously I think it is but I am biased -- but as time goes by and we have fewer and fewer conflicts and blow-ups and our interactions get smoother, I think it is reasonable to consider it as "functional".  But as I say all the time, there's no one right answer to ADHD-related marital problems.  Our solutions worked for us because of our individual natures (including my analytic abilities) and the specific aspects of my spouse's ADHD  -- e.g. non-hyperactive, more problems with memory and less problems with impulsiveness (most of the year, anyway).  I have no doubt that if the nature of my husband's ADHD had been different, we'd have needed some different approaches.  Sure, there are common themes in ADHD, and that's why I post -- even if you don't have my situation, there may still be something you can use from my experience.  But it will still involve a ton of work to figure out what's right for you.

As far as the landscaping goes -- some of it I was able to repair or mitigate over time (he helped) -- some has just naturally improved over time as things have grown in -- and some of it still looks hideous.  The reason I was beside myself about it at the time was because we were having the work done in preparation for putting the house on the market within the year, as my job situation was looking very ominous and we couldn't afford the place without my income, if we were going to continue to meet all our other obligations.  In a single stroke he had ruined the "curb appeal" and added significantly to the cost of the preparations.  Fortunately, even though I *was* laid off just a few months later, I was able to find another position right away, so we didn't have to sell under those conditions and we could wait and work out improvements.  (Although with the current housing market, I'm not sure that ended up being a good thing! LOL.  Life sure can throw us curves!)

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

arwen's picture

choices and happiness

Sherri -- Of course the amputation is a choice!  I said so myself.  And I don't *mourn* it, but that doesn't mean I don't *notice* it, either.  I'm neither turning a blind eye and pretending it didn't happen nor bewailing my sad fate and wishing my life away crying for the moon.  I'm being *objective*.  It was there.  It is gone.  It was a hard choice to make.  I'm past the choice -- the *only* reason I bring it up here is to help others who may be at this kind of crossroads see more clearly what some of their fears or issues may be.

When I made my choice, I would have *preferred personally* to have divorced my spouse.  I did indeed give up part of my soul to stay married, *for the benefit of my young children*, which was more important to me *then* than my own individual happiness *then*.  I *do not* blame my husband, or my children, for this and never have, it was just one of life's situations.  After my kids were no longer a critical factor in my decision-making about staying with my husband, I re-evaluated.  We separated for a while, but ultimately chose to stay together.  *That* was *not* an amputation.  *Now* I am with my husband by choice.  But the amputation I made long ago has still left those holes in my soul -- I chose a path that eliminated a variety of future options and I can't just magically jump from the path I chose to some other path I might find more pleasing today. 

Let me be clear:  I do not feel unfulfilled or empty.  I have achieved what is most important to me in my life, and I'm grateful every day for my good fortune.  I continue to pursue my own happiness, but I'd be an idiot to be trying to reach for the happiness I used to envision, many of those options are long gone.  That's something I *need to be aware of*, if I'm not going to waste my life chasing those rainbows.  The main reason I'm unhappy still at times in my life isn't because I mourn my choice but because the path I'm on calls for different skills than I possess and I haven't figured out entirely how to handle my journey on this path, so I'm making painful mistakes.  Not unlike being on a jungle trail full of plants I'm allergic to, equipped with a pair of nail clippers instead of a machete.  Definitely better than being in agony on my earlier path, but not exactly happy!

So I think you misunderstand where I and possibly others are coming from.  When I say "I miss it", I don't mean that I'm *sad* that it's gone, I mean that I'm *aware* it's gone, and like an amputated limb, occasionally the nerves still feel pain.  But it's perfectly possible to be aware, or even in pain,  without being *sad* or dwellingon it, people do it all the time.  I can see the path behind me clearly, and I can see the various possible paths ahead of me clearly, and I'm not sad about where I am.  That doesn't mean I can't see other places that might seem more enjoyable or less stressful that I can't get to anymore, and  I'm pretty sure I could be happy in those places.  (I think I'd have a blast vacationing in the Carribbean but don't go because I feel I can't afford it,  but although I would really like to go and I'm pretty sure I would be happier going there, I'm not sad that I don't.)   It is what it is.  It isn't what it was.  It isn't going to be what I used to think it could be.  It's not a question of mourning, it's a question of realism.  I frankly don't find that sad, and I respectfully suggest that if you do, maybe you still have further to go in your own understanding.

I can't offer much help to folks who are struggling here if I bury my awareness in a Pollyanna perspective, I have to stay aware and objective and put my experience out there.  Please understand that I do not mean to denigrate anyone else's approach in this forum when I say this.  Those of us who have been through this crucible all have valuable insights through our different experiences and different responses.  If Pollyanna-ism, or Stoicism, or  Hedonism or whatever-else-ism floats your boat, more power to you!  Different strokes for different folks.  There's no single one true right answer for all.

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore



I think in the original way

I think in the original way it was posted, you seemed to be a bit more 'upset' about it. You commented about the amputation, during what seemed to be a heated and emotional discussion with your daughter. It did make me sad, and I will tell you why...(although I see now where I misunderstood).

It made me sad because I think a crucial part of being married is being able to put yourself into someone else's shoes. There is always, will always be, a part of me that feels somewhat 'sorry' (compassionate?) for my DH and what I know ADHD has to bring to his world. I know that if he felt like me being with him meant I was sacrificing a part of my soul (which, in itself apparently holds a whole other meaning to me than it does for you and PJ) then he would feel crushed as a human being, and husband. He does not deserve that. He deserves someone who loves him whole heartedly. In the same token, I would not want to ever think that the person I would spend the rest of my life with would feel that way about me either. I guess, deep down, underneath it all I do still feel that love should be completely unconditional...and the way you initially described it, it was as if you were feeling you were loving him but not without some kind of price that left a hole in your soul. It made me sad for my made me sad for your DH. So, I hope that explains it a little better. Please READ: I understand better what you are saying, I agree 100%, and I do feel I misunderstood your original comment. You have never come across to me as someone who is anything less than fully loving and accepting of your DH, so it sorta surprised me.

I had a hard time living with myself when I had ugly things to say about my DH. Not just complaints about, or solicitations for advice and opinions on, ADHD...but the soul wrenching anger and bitterness I felt towards him. It wasn't who I wanted to be and it wasn't who he deserved. I did feel for a long time that I had to give up ever having peace in my life to be with him, so I guess I can relate, but at the same time since I now know the solution was within me, I can't possibly blame him. I wish things could have been different, but I don't have any regrets. I think that's what you're trying to say.

arwen's picture

I can understand

I can understand how you took my original post differently.  The conversation was intense, and I snapped at her, because I was so frustrated that I was not able to communicate my feelings to her.  (Impatience is my greatest weakness, I'm afraid.)  My daughter is young and optimistic and a little naive, and because I love her dearly, I really don't want her to have to go through the pain with her ADHD spouse that I experienced with mine.  The "upset" you sensed came from that dynamic, not from my present feelings about the "amputation".  But I realize I did not make that clear in my earlier post.

Please let me say that I share your philosophy about putting yourself in someone else's shoes, but not that love should be unconditional.  When I made my "amputation" choice many years ago, I did not love my husband as much as I do now, because he was engaged in a huge effort of self-deception about his ADHD, and more lies on top of that to me.  I can't respect that, and I can't love what I can't respect.  So the parts of him that were still worthy of respect, I loved, and the parts that weren't, I didn't.  The latter seriously outweighed the former back then. (But I do feel that love should not depend on factors that can't be controlled -- if *that* is what you mean by unconditional love, then we do think alike.)

I really don't think that sacrificing part of my soul means much different to me than to you.  By staying in the marriage, I had to give up my career (note: *not* my *job*) because the demands of my work were completely incompatible with the responsibilities I needed to execute for my children's sake within the context of a family life that included my spouse.   I'd spent six years preparing for my career, and seven years in it -- my work was a huge part of what defined me.  It would be too late to try to go back to it when my kids were older, I would have been gone too long and no way to "keep my hand in" in the meantime.   It was agonizing.  He didn't really notice.  When I explained how I felt, he didn't really understand.  What little he understood, he forgot about promptly.  So frankly, given the way he was dealing with his ADHD and treating me, he would have deserved to feel bad about my "amputation", in my opinion.  (I've since developed a different career, and it's not a terrible alternative, but it is far less aligned with my talents and while generally satisfying, does not bring me the joy my original career bestowed.  That's life -- nobody's fault.)

I don't say these things to dwell on them, I don't feel sad now.  Just the facts, ma'am.  I recount this because I'm trying to suggest that my shoes are not your shoes, that the nature of my relationship with my spouse was different in various ways than your relationship with your spouse, and so some of what applies to you and your spouse may not apply to me and mine.  You and I may have ended up in somewhat similar places, emotionally and philosophically, but we are at different points in our journeys and we may have traveled by somewhat different routes.  I'm sure you would agree that these kinds of considerations are worth bearing in mind in interpreting any post.

You've reached an important point in your own journey, and I'm truly glad for the understanding you've achieved.  You are making some wonderful contributions to this forum.  Keep up the great work!

"It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be."  Albus Dumbledore

Happiness is a Choice, Too

This is a concept that one year ago I wouldn't have believed (I would have said, "How can you 'choose' to be happy when your husband is doing x, y, z???") but amazingly, it is, and this is the key to life. 

The truth is, as Sherri said, how you choose to see your choice affects your experience as much as the choice itself.  To use the hiker analogy that sparked Arwen's response in the other thread, the hiker who cut off his arm can spend the rest of his life looking at his amputated arm, remembering what it was like to write, play the piano, play basketball, etc., and feeling very bad and sorry for himself that he cannot do those things anymore.

OR, he can CHOOSE to look at his arm and remember the infinite grace and miracle of God/the Universe that made sure when he was in the situation he was in, he had the TOOLS to get himself out -- his knife, his courage, his will to live.  He can choose to look at his arm and realize that he has gained much, much more than he has lost -- he has gained his life, his story serves as an inspiration that has and will touch thousands of people around the world, he got to played by James Franco (I'm being a little facetious here, but hey, that's flattering for a guy, I bet!)...whatever it is.

In other words, the only way to "fill the empty hole" is to have GRATITUDE for what you have, what your experiences (even those that caused suffering) have taught and given you, and to be certain that you are meant to be exactly where you are, right now at this moment.  If you do not feel blessed with everything you have -- even the obstacles you have been challenged to face (which are actually "teachers" to discover things about yourself that you are supposed to learn), you will ALWAYS feel an emptiness, no matter what happens.  Further, when you have gratitude, and see everything you have as a blessing and there for a purpose, you find the clarity and will to make the difficult choices you need to make to move towards your dreams.

I'll close with a quote from Viktor Frankle, a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was able to find peace and happiness even under those circumstances.  Let me repeat: this was a man who was surrounded by the greatest evil and depravity the world has probably known to date, who didn't know if he was even going to live, who missed everyone he knew and all of the basic freedoms we take for granted.  This is what he discovered:

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

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