Hello all. I have lurked here for weeks reading the various posts and this will be the first post from me personally. I would like to say that the many stories I have read here have done much to help me gain a modicum of perspective and sanity which has been sorely needed on my part as of late. As much as I would like my first post here to be one of happiness and hope, I'm afraid that this forum will instead serve as the medium for a public announcement of a sudden, almost spontaneous realization on my part several weeks ago that - in regards to remaining with my ADHD spouse - I am simply (and slightly sadly) DONE.
I could ALMOST swear that I heard the clicking of the switch when it happened. I was pulling into the driveway after work, all three kids in tow, when I saw the unmistakable sight of the brightly-colored "disconnect" notice taped to the garage door announcing that, 12 hours later, the utilities in my home would be disconnected due to nonpayment of services. This was not even close to being the first time I had arrived home to such notification, and on this particular day (luckily home from work earlier than usual) I had FIFTEEN MINUTES to make things right - otherwise my kids would be preparing for their school day in the dark the very next morning. Though still strapped into the driver's seat,I felt almost disassociated from my physical body as I heard the voice of my 8-year-old in the seat behind me exasperatedly say: "Oh no. Not AGAIN".
That was the EXACT moment that the future of my family changed direction. I guess it could be called "the breaking point", and while there have been moments since then that I have tried to hope that things truly were NOT broken and that this too would pass, things are truly different now and there is no going back.
Almost 11 years married in 13 years together. Three WONDERFUL, healthy kids. Added to that is a home with an upside down mortgage, two cars, two careers - plus a pile of debt and mountains of frustration complicated by TONS of insurmountable resentment (acquired rightly or wrongly) on BOTH sides of the marriage that have brought everything to it's present crossroads. It's a LONG story with MANY details - and in fairness there WERE some bright spots. ESPECIALLY my three kids, who are my entire world.
I'm sure I will be utilizing the wisdom found on this forum to help me find my way in the immediate future.
Hindsight being 20/20 , I realize that, even during our early dating phase, there were "warning signs" attributable to my wife's since-diagnosed ADHD. The thrill-seeking, the late-night, booze-fueled "girl's nights out" with co-workers. The lack of dependability and follow-through on her part for even simple things. The inexplicable hyperfocus on ideas, schemes, and plans for the distant AND immediate future that would be all-consuming for a period of days and all-but-forgotten within a week. Manic spending followed by a manic making-of-returns to shops where items were bought. The near-constant scheduling and planning of party/event after party/event after party/event after party/event. Related to this (I see now) was an inexplicable (at the time) presence of what I can only describe as an entitlement-fueled rage when her "thrill seeking" was denied, her plans questioned, her out-of-left-field ideas challenged, or her erratic and often unsafe behavior (drunk driving, blackouts, keeping of questionable company) pointed out or labeled unacceptable. Part and parcel of this rage was being labeled as an "unsupportive" individual (my wife's version of the antichrist, apparently), and being castigated accordingly as the reason why her plans, ideas, and overall behaviors never reached any type of productive fruition. Defend myself? That would be unsupportive of her "right to be heard". Invoke my own "right to be heard"? - I'd better be just be quiet lest I be accused of "hijacking" a "conversation" about "her needs". "MY needs"? Those can only be considered when SHE is content and supported. Damn. I realize as I type these words that I should have seen it coming all those years ago.
However (hindsight STILL being 20/20), I realize with a fair amount of clarity that I myself enabled this behavior on her end from early on and right up to the present. I wanted to be a "nice guy", and the last thing a nice guy wants to be is "unsupportive". I remember thinking "If I just ______ like she told me to, she'll be happy / stop bitching / etc. If I just help her achieve _________ , she'll be content. If I just give her _______ , she'll finally be satisfied." Well, she never WAS "happy, content, or satisfied" - at least for more than a very short period in our years together - regardless of how "supportive" I tried to be. I have "supported" her through three children - conceived on her terms and on her timeframe. NUMEROUS "girls trips", new cars, weekend adventures, trinkets, furniture, appliances. Two and counting career changes and back-to-school trips while my own personal career advancement stagnates so that I can stay home and watch the kids while she gets additional education (and incurs MORE debt) to be SOMETHING ELSE when she "grows up". Sometimes I feel like jimmy Stewart's character in "It's A Wonderful Life" - holding down the fort at the old Building And Loan while everyone else goes on to pursue their dreams!
And while she always seemed more than able to forget about mundane things such as paying bills, showing up on time, getting groceries, or remembering simple things, she seemed to maintain a PERFECT memory of EVERY incident in which she felt wronged or "unsupported" by me, and seemed incapable of letting ANYTHING be forgiven. Each new argument or spat resulted in me not only having to make amends for my most current offenses, but for ALL prior offenses. Physical intimacy was put on hold again and again and again as she held on to old, unsettled scores until she felt she could be "close" to me once more. On the flip side, I found her lack of tact and understanding of basic social cues and etiquette to be baffling. Simply NO filter there AT ALL. If "offended", she seemed to feel entitled to WHATEVER response, the feelings of others be damned. Yet, if SHE were the one at fault, the issue HAD to be approached in a "supportive" manner delivered on a silver platter and guilded by sunshine and rainbows. MY needs, concerns, feelings, and happiness could ONLY be discussed when HER concerns, feelings, and happiness were where she needed them to be. I began to withdraw from her simply to avoid hassle, criticism, and argument. I would be dishonest about money I spent on my OWN hobbies and interests for the same reason, even as we struggled with the expenses of three young kids - again just to avoid hassle. Because I was dishonest (and I WAS dishonest), SHE insisted on TOTAL control of my direct deposit (my paycheck must be deposited directly into our joint account with the amount of deposit verified by my employer's HR department for the purpose of "building trust") as well as her insisting on managing and paying ALL of the bills . And she has had a really hard time remembering to do that. ESPECIALLY when she is hyperfocused on something else, which is most of the time. We have "late" notices from somewhere every month.
I look back and see the pattern so clearly from my present position: A never ending series of hyperfocused schemes, ideas, wants, and needs on HER part, exacerbated by MY enabling attempts to be "supportive" (and thereby avoid hassle or criticism) on MY part. A pattern of hyperfocus on new pets, new vehicles, exciting trips and fun adventures, parties and get-togethers with her friends, better houses, better jobs, new careers, more school, more kids, all of the things she "imagined" her life to be when she was a child, etc. - ALL forgotten or abandoned at some point in favor of something newer, better, or more exciting, with me being labeled "unsupportive" and faced with her "rage of entitlement" if I was not in agreement with her pursuits.
It was, and still is, maddening. Soul-crushing. Crazy Making.
We HAVE done marriage counseling. It worked in that we have developed a "code word" for my wife to STOP physically following me (as far as into the yard) as I try to disengage from arguments when I really CANNOT hear what she is saying. It worked as well in that it gave me enough insight into myself that I can view my own behavior much more mindfully, reflectively, and objectively. It was less than successful in that I think my wife took from it that the "issues" are mine, since I was the one who did most of the talking during the sessions.
And as I type these words - while my children sleep upstairs and my wife is out at the bars "taking a break" from the classwork associated with her MOST RECENT career change - I realize that the sad numbness I feel inside because of the present situation at this point is rivaled only by a perfect feeling of loneliness in relation to the future. But mixed with that is a feeling of mild relief. And maybe even a bit of optimism.
It's going to be a long road, but I think it is the ONLY road. After a deep breath, I have taken my first steps.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings.