I think that my ADHD spouse verbally abuses me at least once a week. I know that people with ADHD have a really hard time with managing anger, and my husband has the trifecta: speech problems (hard to communicate, causes frustration), inattention (ADHD), and probably a mild form of autism (very sensitive to the environment and even the smallest stressors). On top of all this, he's lacking in the empathy department, which makes it very easy to objectify others and take out his anger and frustration on me. But I don't know how to differentiate between what's really abuse and what are his neurological issues.
It hurts so much to be called "b---h," "f----r," "s---h--d," and "a-----e." Sometimes all within the same sentence. He will apologize half-heartedly, with a lot of coaching, then quickly turn around and do it again. Each time, I did something to cause him to lose control. I talk too much. I want to talk to him during the wrong part of the day. I'm a nag. I'm needy. I deserve it. I interrupted him. I'm "crazy." I'm a "wacko." I make things up. It never happened. I'm exaggerating.
Today, which just happens to be my birthday, he threatened to leave me if I ever used the word "verbal abuse" in his presence ever again. Of course I'm uncomfortable with that, because how can we fix the yelling and name-calling by censoring ourselves (or silencing the victim)? So he hit the road and left me here, devastated and alone on my birthday. (I live far away from friends and family and pretty much spent the day alone.)
The bad behavior started a long time ago, but he was going through so many interpersonal crises that it was hard to tell what was stress, what was ADHD/speech/neuro, and what was really verbal abuse.
But this became a little clearer to me three weeks ago, while we were on our way to work. We had an argument about his child. The kid is having a lot of serious attendance and behavior issues. When I tried to share my concerns, I think he mistook my worry for criticism, because he just exploded at me without warning. His anger was so horrible that I was in the fetal position in the passenger seat of our car, crying and begging for him to stop yelling. "Please stop, please stop, please, please . . . " He kept going, bellowing at me, "you deserve to get f-----g s--t!" followed by "go f--k yourself! go f--k yourself! go f--k yourself!" over and over. Other times, he throws his phone at me. He has (once) threatened to hurt my cat.
After an outburst, I feel obliterated. But he's sweet as pie to me. He may be cheery and want to make dinner plans, catch a movie, or go for a walk. He'll call me "honey" and offer to carry my bag or groceries for me. Does this not describe an abuser, par excellence? As soon as he gains control, he feels happy, calm and soothed? When he feels out of control, he yells, screams, and bullies?
This has been happening on a regular basis, and sometimes, I don't even know what I did wrong or why he's angry. I worry because it feels like it's getting more frequent and intense. So I gave my husband an ultimatum. Deal with this or be out of my life. He left the apartment, took some things, and went to a friend's house to think things over. Three weeks passed and I hadn't really heard from him. I finally caught up with him, and he admitted that we needed to talk. We were scheduled to talk yesterday, but he postponed until today.
Of course he would wait until MY BIRTHDAY to have this conversation. He pretty much admitted to everything that's stressing the relationship, but refused to acknowledge the name-calling, yelling, swearing and insults. I just know that I can't put up with it, anymore, and unless he's penitent and really, truly sorry for the hurt he's caused me. I'm sobbing as I write this post, because I just don't ever, ever want to be called a "b---h," again.
I feel so low and unloved. Worst. Birthday. Ever.