My husband and I are almost positive that he has inattentive ADD. He will be formally evaluated for it next week. We have been married for almost four years and have been together for seven years total. I should have seen the signs that ADD was having an impact on our relationship from the very beginning, but I didn't. When it was brought up years ago, I figured that the "I might have ADD" line was just one of the many excuses I was given every time a promise was broken, a task was undone, a lie was told, etc. Now I see that it is more than likely a very serious issue that has been plaguing us for years. My concern is that after so long of playing the role of a mother and "playing house," I feel that I have lost any sense of self, any sense of self worth, and any sense of self control.
I admit that in the past I was reactive and angry in our conversations, mostly due to the resentment and bitterness that built up over the years of being lied to, led on, and manipulated. Every time we would have a conversation that we had already had five times over that month, I would "freak out" and "lose it." I couldn't understand why I was sounding like a broken record, having to have the same discussion over and over and over. I would yell at him for lying. I would forecast the end of our marriage when he would blow off our plans to hang out with his friends for the weekend. I was so confused and was going crazy. Now that we know he most likely has ADD, I have altered my communication patterns. I have been reading this forum a lot and trying to utilize some of the advice here as well, such as leaving post it notes around the house, or texting reminders, etc. When we talk, I try to stay calm and express empathy for his frustrations and confusions. However, this still isn't working out very well for us.
I feel as though I am a mother dealing with a 10-year-old boy when we communicate. I feel that I have to constantly remind myself that "I know better than to be (angry, sad, disappointed in him...etc) but he doesn't know any better than to lie and manipulate and he can't help it if he can't remember to feed the dog or pay his bills." This is such a lonely place to be in. I watch every word I say and the tone in which I say it. Of course everyone does in some way or another, but I have to think hours ahead of the game to determine any snags we may hit that will set him off into a spiral of anger ( at the guy who cut him off on the freeway) or guilt/pity (because I told him I was sad that he talks bad about me with his friends) or complete shutdown (like when I try to explain how I am struggling and feeling isolated during this journey to get him help for ADD). Even when I do make strong efforts to control what I say, how I say it, when I say it, and what exactly is said, he still reacts as though I am attacking him. He claims that once he has "decided" that I am mad at him, nothing I do will change his mind, and he will treat me as thought I am mad and acting angrily towards him. (The "deciding" thing is an issue too. He once "Decided" that I had cheated on him and even when he discovered it wasn't true, he still held it against me because of the hurt he was feeling just by the thought of me having cheated, which I didn't.) I hear several times a day from how the ways in which I need to communicate better for him, how I need to understand more for him, how I need to speak less and let him speak more, how I need to.....fill in the blank.
I want to be supportive, but I really feel that my husband is hiding behind his illness. He knows he may have ADD, yet he doesn't make any effort to attempt to communicate differently, he just expects me to. He doesn't do his part around the house, or help with the dog, or do the budget, or pay the bills. He has no responsibility for the car service maintenance, the yard work, the grocery shopping, the errands. Nothing. And when I ask him to do his part, he gets upset and claims that I am not sensitive to him. He claims that I only do all these things to prove a point about how much I can do and he can't. He once told me he needed to observe me do every single chore so he would know how to do it. He followed me around while I cleaned and ran errands, but he never did get around to doing them himself. I leave notes, I text reminders, I ask how he is feeling and if there is anything he would like to talk about.
I really want to be a supportive wife. But I can only do so much and in the process, I have completely lost any sense of self. I spend so much time running our lives with no support that I'm starting to feel like cleaning and cooking is all I am any good for. I'm starting to blame every lie and dropped promise on myself, instead of asking him to take responsibility. I tell myself, "Well, you should have known to print out the directions to this place because you know he can't remember these things." Now, although he may have promised to print out directions on a road trip, I take the blame because I should have known better. I can't express any sense of disappointment to him, or else he will spiral into shame and guilt and eventually anger, at me for not understanding him.
I don't have any friends because all my time is consumed with the daily responsibilities of two people, not just one. We don't have enough money to go out and do anything so even the idea of me going to get a drink and unwind with a friend is out of the question. The last time I did, I came home to an angry husband because I "said i was getting "A" drink, not out drinking for an hour."
We have been in couples therapy for years, and every time, my husband gets tools to use, and he doesn't. Most of our therapy was centered around him and his childhood and his issues, while I was instructed on how to behave differently if I wanted him to behave differently. So I did, but he didn't. We now have to cancel our couples therapy to focus solely on his ADD treatment, since we can't afford both.
I'm at my wits end. I've been diagnosed with GAD, my mind races all the time about everything I need to take care of by myself, my back and jaw ache constantly, my eyes and arms twitch, I can hardly ever catch my breath and I occasionally break into panic attacks. According to my husband, he "understands" how I am struggling and feeling so lonely, yet, he walks away from me when I'm crying and claims that he has his personal reasons for why he won't hold me when I'm upset. But he won't tell me what they are.
I feel so alone. I feel desperate for a normal adult conversation. Desperate for just one day when I don't wake up counting my words and anticipating the minute when I say something in the wrong tone, or turn away too fast and he will assume I'm "being a bitch" and shut down for the rest of the day. I used to think I was bright, and capable, and had a future that I would run into head first. Now,I feel like I'm a cold hearted undeserving bitch who can't do anything right and if I even consider leaving my husband, then it makes me even more of a cold hearted bitch because he needs me.
But, is it okay to ask for what I need? Like some understanding of my struggle, like some compassion for my sadness, like some concern for my overall wellbeing, like some time devoted only to myself? Who do I ask if I have no friends? Who do I talk to? I feel so lonely and do desperate. I'm at the end of my rope.