My marriage has been a minefield--full of surpising, crushing disappointments that have seemed to come out of the blue-- since day one, and it is only 12 years into it that I finally understand that my husband has ADHD. It's a giant AHA!-- like someone rang a giant gong that made some sense of my world! Raised in a family in which I was isolated as a child, I must have normalized all the feelings of abandonment and worthlessness and rage that have come tumbling down on me in this marriage...
Our daughter has ADD, and in exploring that our doctor asked which parent might have it. I was shocked and saddened and ultimately (to my shame!) delighted to know that my husband's ways had a name, a description-- that he wasn't ignoring me because I was unlovable, but because he truly can't pay attention to anything (except his endless and impenetrable spreadsheets)! It's kind of a revelation! My head is spinning.
Here are two events that I can now revise: on our honeymoon, in romantic, gorgeous, sensuous Bali, I woke each morning to an empty bed. My husband, who cannot sleep past 5 am, was out exploring. I passed the morning hours crying, reading, or talking with the hotel staff or other guests while I waited for him. I thought he was unhappy with me, that he was running from our brand-new marriage, and I was almost ready to accept an end to it. When he returned, always happy and clueless and cuddly as a puppy, I was at a loss for words, not wanting to fight but waiting for a new understanding... Later that year, I took a pregnancy test. We both longed for a baby. He stood with me during the wildly suspenseful moment when I peed on the stick. Then the phone rang. It was his beloved sister calling. He took the phone into the bedroom, stretched out on the bed, and had a good long chat with her, while I waited for the results of the test alone in the bathroom. I was pregnant, but had no one to share it with. He was hyperfocused on the conversation he was having--not apathetic about our new life.
Maybe now I can see that his continued declarations of love and admiration, and his intermittent acts of devotion, however misguided (like giving me a tv adapter for my birthday, when I truly hate tv and never watch it), come from a real place, and maybe I can find a way to hear that message over all the noise of his inattentiveness. Maybe I can learn the special language of ADHD; maybe this diagnosis is like my new translator. Maybe (I sincerely hope!) I can start to feel loved and stop being the screaming, raging, guilty, uncomprehending stressball I have become in recent years, feeling like the only solid ground in our family and overburdened by having to manage everything for everyone. Maybe. I'm hoping... It's all pretty new. I'll keep tuned in to this site.