Hello to everyone and I admit that I’ve been a lurker on this site for about a month. And I've really been inspired enough to finally post. Where to begin?? Wow, what a question. There are so many places I can start and I could literally write a book (and won’t), but I will begin that I’ve been married now for twenty years and have two kids that are the back half of them leaving the nest. We are of Christian faith and I’ve been fortunate that my job is in sales and I’ve been able to use my creativity to hold my job for over 15 years – but I know now that I can be so much better!
How I came to know how I’m ADHD will come later, but my wife will argue that the signs go all the way back to the beginning (and I don’t disagree), but really my freefall started a few years ago. But before my freefall let’s start with some of the signs that I check off:
Distractibility – check (Squirrel!!)
Impulsiveness – check (If I like it, I buy it – within limits ($50) and Amazon Prime is evil) although I’ve taken on expensive up front cost hobbies in the past
Forgetfulness – check (I’m guilty of the Now/Not Now List)
Hyperfocus – check; although now I’ve come to use this as a weapon when I motivate my mind properly.
Anger – check; I don’t have the ‘white hot’ anger…more of the impatient – ‘barking’ type of anger on small issues that doesn’t make sense
Because I’m consistently looking for that dopamine drip, my day consisted routinely of begrudgingly going to work in sales, coming home to a beer and if nothing was on fire (where the fires were inevitably never big enough), jump on a video game – not get dinner started, not spending time with the children or not helping them with schoolwork (always excused myself that my parents never helped me) and not spend time with my wife where ultimately she would have to create her own time. And unfortunately, I could spend hours on video games because of the dopamine fix and all of the distractions around me stop to relax my mind. I’m in the video game generation that started it all (Doom & Duke Nukem-first person shooters); for video gamers, these games were like the Beatles to music and were the perfect outlet for a person like me.
I’m beginning to sound quite the dumbass guy aren’t I?? But like the cheezy $20 knife commercials; but hey that’s not all! Thankfully for our financial well-being, I was fired from paying the bills as it’s a strong suit of her anyways. Although I did my fair share of cleaning around the house, I would have issues keeping up with changing air filters on a timely basis or not keeping up my ever growing honey-do list. But I would always find the time and energy to spend with friends (Have beers with buddies) in the neighborhood or workplace than quality time spent with my wife. And if we did go out on date nights, if she didn’t initiate – nothing would happen. Which leads me into the most serious sign of ADHD that my wife has had to deal with; the emotional disconnect and neglect. I admit that my intimacy was inconsistent at best and have been reminded many times that we probably wouldn’t have had our children if it wasn’t for her initiating (All the time). I don’t know what I was thinking other that I felt mentally exhausted (daily distractions, video games etc) all the time and would rather fall asleep than to exert the energy needed for intimacy.
But unfortunately I can go on and on about how I constantly looked for the shiny penny to satisfy me, but never looked at the shiniest of them all that were right in my own home.
I consider myself an accountable person. I can’t stand Entitlement and think it’s a disease and consistently warn my kids against it as they get older. This world is not fair and will slap you upside the head if you don’t fight for everything in life. And that the achievements that you earn will feel so much better when you achieve them due to work ethic. But even as I warn my children I was susceptible in my own Marriage; I was guilty of Entitlement and took so much for granted.
Well I am certainly a dumbass, but not an idiot and I fought myself out of a serious hole mentally and realized that our relationship was not normal or healthy. With the help of a topic non-ADHD related I had seen/read online; I woke up and began to view her again as my best friend and wife instead of just my wife. I asked for strength from God and finally built the courage to discuss it with my wife. Well without going into too many details, it was too late; my wife had decided that she had enough in her heart and shut me out. She said that she would always love me but was no longer in love with me. After months of me trying to come to this point, she had endured years of me and was spent. She was going to stay in the house to finish raising our children, but once our nest becomes empty our marriage would have nothing left to hold it together.
Well this totally rocked my world in a couple ways. I was sick and horrified at myself after the realization set in of how badly I hurt her in order for her to come to this reality. She entrusted me with her security when she married me and I completely destroyed it. That profound statement still shakes me to my core. I completely and sincerely understood her point of view but I honestly had absolutely no idea how I was going to fight it. All I knew was that I loved her and I didn’t want our marriage to end. And I was determined that since she was still in the house; I still had a chance...so I was going to try harder instead of what I now know as differently. Well, the first thing I did that made sense was quit the video games cold turkey; and to this day I’m OK with it. The next was to take the lead role in making sure dinner, homework etc was being tended to before my wife gets home from work. Just doing this was very self-satisfying and helped keep my mind busy and not wander. And then I began to stop the barriers and walls and decided to be completely open and vulnerable to her at all times; better said than done when the other side will not be overtly meeting you half way. The next step I can only say would have been from intervention from God (For He helps those who help themselves); you see…my son also has ADHD. For some reason I Googled ADHD and Marriage…the flood of information that popped up was overwhelming and tears poured as I read and read and read as much as I could. I devoured everything I could that night and then emailed my wife a ton of links with a promise that this was not an excuse but more of an understanding of ‘why’. The very next morning I purchased both of Melissa’s books and devoured them in less than 6 hours. And all of the boxes I checked earlier for ADHD were an enlightenment; the distractions, impulsiveness, hyper-focus…everything. What I needed more than anything else to make me better was a roadmap; and all of a sudden I had one.
Well; with all of the evidence, my wife has accepted ADHD as the source of the issue. She now understands that I’m coming after her again and is understandably untrusting and that’s ok. I’m into figuring ‘me’ out right now and hopefully she will come along for the ride when she realizes I’m back…the guy she fell in love with. The guy that believes she is my only best friend; because I treat my best friends with love and utmost respect. And I will prove to her consistently each and every day that I’m the guy that will Champion her heart until death do us part.
Am I afraid that I’m using Hyper-Focus to get her back like I did to originally win her heart? No I’m not afraid; I’m using it as a weapon to cut for me instead of against me this time. I’m not worried in the slightest about reverting back; because to do that would hurt her (I hate seeing her cry) and I would rather set her free than to ever do that again. And I’m using all the resources I have available including this forum as tools and as a reminder that if I ever get her back again, that it will be for good.
In just four weeks in working on me, I’ve seen a positive influence coming from her. And she talks about the distant future with me in it which is a good sign. She really is an amazing woman and I’m fortunate to be married to her. But she will have to forgive me one last time for our marriage to work. She will ultimately decide how accountable I’m going to be for my behavior. If at the end, she finds that she can’t do it; my accountability will be forever. Will it be devastating…yes; but I only want her to be happy. If her being happy means not being with me; I’ll have to accept that and wish her well. Why? Because I love her and she’s my best friend.
To those spouses on both side of the ADHD fence; I wish you all the best of luck. I bleed for those spouses that are struggling with their ADHD other half. I would like to think they will wake up like I did; but I only did when I was faced with the truth of being divorced and the honest and brutal truth of the hurt caused by me.
Thank you Melissa Orlov for your books and venue for support. And Thank you to all those that have taken the time to post; your stories are invaluable resources for others to use.