Life is better now

My ADHD wife left me and our adopted four year old child about nine months ago.  I'm not sure what else I could have done during our 8 year marriage to make her "happy", in the spirit of making our marriage work  (at her request) I left my career and friends on the east coast to start a family here in the Pacific northwest, moved my elderly mom out here a few years after that and then we adopted an incredible newborn girl who is the light and joy of both our lives.  For 8 years I had been doing the lions share of the housework, we've never been able to talk about money or budget (I managed all the finances for the move, the house, all the bills, the adoption etc) and always had to remind her of when it was time to leave the house because we were notoriously late for everything.  the kitchen was always a mess, she insisted on a housekeeper, even when I got laid off (thanks pandemic) and realized we couldn't afford it.  She insisted on so much, all the time.  She wasn't diagnosed with ADD until the 7th year of our marriage, and I think the adderal put the final nail on our sex life and any attempts at empathy.  She started staying up until 3am on her laptop doing work and pretty much ignored me except to make her needs known.  I had always felt like I was the one who had to make repairative work on our relationship after a fight.  She would just be sad and play victim, or she would be spiteful and cruel when we were alone.  The enthusiastic woman I dated in NYC was gone. Usually, eventually I would find some way to win her over again. But that's not the kind of relationship that would make anyone happy.  I was determined to do everything I could to make it work -- it's just my nature and probably what made me a good target.  It wasn't an easy marraige but we had good moments and we both invested lots to make this life. At least that's how I looked at it.

I'm not sure why she did what she did.  She says she just changed her mind about me after a particularly bad Christmas fight, and that she wanted to explore her feelings for a coworker.  We separated but lived together (thanks, pandemic) and I asked her not to date anyone while she was here because I couldn't handle seeing her that... She agreed but then one night looked me in the eye and said she was going out to have drinks with friends.  Came back at 3 in the morning and admitted the friend was the guy she wanted to date.  She moved out a few months later, one Monday all of her stuff was gone.  Our daughter had trouble understanding and processing what happened but that kid is amazing and has bounced back and accepted having two homes much more quickly than anyone else.  To say this has been unfair to an adopted four year old is quite the understatement. 

I was miserable throughout most of the marriage. I had moved away from my friends, my mom had to go into a retirement community because my wife would not allow her to live with us and the few months she did were hell.  I ended up seriously depressed.  Isolated and alone.  We were in constant therapy (my wife is a social worker and therapist!) But I always felt like she used that time to complain about how stressed out she was regarding our marriage, but she didn't actually do the work once the session was over. Everything was my fault because she could not take the responsibility of being wrong.  Have you ever tried to do non-violent communication with someone who just interrupts you and gets super defensive at any perceived slight?  It takes an incredible amount of patience.  She might be more NPD than ADHD.  Honestly, I don't care anymore.  The only things that ever worked in our marriage was me setting boundaries.  Before we moved out here when she was hyperfocused on making me think she was someone other than who she actually turned out to be, I feel like I was hoodwinked.  

Now that she has moved out (about 6 months ago, the transition took her a long time) my life is taking such a positive turn.  Things are organized again, I have a balanced budget -- in spite of the fact that she left me with a mortgage and a mountain of debt.  Eventually I will need to sell this house, I've kept it so that my daughter will have someplace familiar to call home, but it is more house than we need.  My daughter and I have the best time together and I'm finding my old self is still there under all those years of self doubt and anger and frustration.  We are finding a new life together and it is great fun.  I've reconnected with old friends, found a new fulfilling job and I'm even thinking of starting to date again.  At 50!

I guess I'm writing here because I've read so many similar stories and wanted to add my own experience.  The only things that ever helped me feel better were setting boundaries, and reading what you all have also been through.  I hope this helps anyone out there suffering.  Now that I'm on the other side I look back and wonder what I was thinking.  I would gladly handle anything to make life better for my daughter -- she is the light and joy of my life, but it is obvious now that she will do fine as long as I am able to give her stability.   although I don't enjoy watching her mother spiral into her mental health problems, it is not my problem to deal with that anymore and my job is to be dependable and a good father to my sweet girl.  It is all so much simpler and in perspective now. Life is too short to waste on people will likely never be able to show appreciation or empathy.  I wish you all peace and happiness. Thanks for reading, I wrote a lot more than I intended!