Not just ADD/ADHD

I have a friend with diagnosed ADHD.  She is honest, sincere, contemplative, curious about life.  She tells it like it is and accepts and is open with the fact that her mind works differently. I usually don't SEE it in her but she tells me how she compensates. She takes care of herself, finding her joy and being productive. She is open in saying that she does not want anyone to have to depend on her and she doesn't want to be in a position where she must depend on someone else. I know that she may one day stop communication because her life goes in different directions at whim.  But I trust her to tell me the truth and can accept that.  DH has what I believe is ADD (maybe smatterings of other things - he seems to not have empathy or compassion and unable to play on a "team" with rules). The thing that is hardest to live with is not being able to TRUST him.  I can't depend on his promises or even that he will meet me at an allotted time.  He will not talk about plans for future or how he feels about ANYTHING.  He is glib and superficial.  I am writing this to say that I now see that ADD is not responsible for his irresponsibility and my resentment and apologize to anyone on this board who I may have offended or disheartened by my angst-ridden notes and frustration with how I feel about DH.  To those of you like my friend who have ADD/ADHD traits only and not the other negative traits my DH has, this is a note that says to you and your spouses that I am aware that you can have good relationships if you are trustworthy and caring and communication is open. Maybe there should be a new category here for those of us who are dealing not only with ADHD/ADD but also the more damaging traits of dishonesty and manipulation or narcissism.

I know what you mean.  My

I know what you mean.  My boss has ADHD; she is much more open, honest, and compassionate than my DH, who also has ADHD.  I think my husband has other things going on that have contributed to the negative personality traits and behaviors.

Pbartender's picture

Coining a term...

"Maybe there should be a new category here for those of us who are dealing not only with ADHD/ADD but also the more damaging traits of dishonesty and manipulation or narcissism."

So, you want to make the distinction between having ADD and being an ADD Hole.




Pb, I have to say that you just made me laugh out loud. 

As one who is separating from by STBX spouse, I can agree with the comments above. One day about two years ago, I woke up and realized that I was wholly and absolutely miserable. I was so sad that my chest hurt all the time. I felt 20 years older than I was. My face was gray and I had migraines constantly. My marriage was killing me. I wasn't just married to someone with ADHD. I was married to someone who unfortunately had other issues along with his ADHD. The first time I read about narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder, I sat there in shock for a while. Manipulation--check. Anger management and rage issues--check. Absolute pathological need to avoid any blame or criticism and to be right about everything--check. Gaslighting--check. Episodes of what seemed like manic behavior, alternating with hardly functioning--check. Charming and charismatic at times to the outside world, but abusive and cruel to me while making me out to be the abusive one--check. Just a complete lack of empathy and seemingly almost total self-centeredness--check. Underneath, I knew in my heart that there was something very wrong there, and I shut down for a very long time over it. And I tried, I tried so hard. I begged him to go to counseling with me for years, and in the end, to seek psychiatric help. I finally put my foot down and threatened to leave if he didn't. 

Near the end, I didn't even want to fix it any more. All I wanted was out. Desperately. After his initial explosive reaction, he settled down. I had to give in on more things than I thought were fair. He made me the bad guy and told his family terrible things about me. (I really wanted him to leave and let me stay in the house with the kids, but he moaned and fought it and dragged his feet. Once I let go of the idea, I was free!) I will be ok and I am keeping my integrity and starting with a clean slate, and it is an adventure with my little guys. I am preparing to move next week into a new place with my children. I am broke, and I am soon to be divorced, and I am starting over, and I feel greater relief and happiness than I thought possible. I found out how true my friends are, and how much my mother and sister love me, and how worried they have all been--I hadn't been fooling anyone! 

So yes, I think Melissa is right and her book is incredible. I think that if just ADHD is involved, and it is treated, and both partners work at it and accept responsibility, a marriage can flourish. I have known people with ADHD, too, who are kind and considerate and thoughtful, who do not call their loved ones names and lie to them and manipulate them. ADHD alone is not what I was dealing with. And the day I realized it, I gave myself permission to leave and rescue myself instead of staying and being a victim. And I know in my bones that I am doing the right thing and I only wish I had done it a few years ago!  

The dishonesty and

The dishonesty and manipulation have nearly destroyed my marriage. I do a lot more thinking than I wish I did sometimes, and I think I have concluded, as you, that this isn't just about ADHD anymore...but maybe more learned behaviors from childhood that are just simply his "norm" and may not ever change.


Jenn, I'm glad to hear you are beginning to feel some relief. I felt like I was floating on a cloud when I left my X, at finally being responsible for ONLY those who would listen to me!

I don't remember if you were the person who suspected they had some PTSD, but if you think that is possible, study up on "Complex PTSD." There is probably a good likelihood that you may start having some of those symptoms after you get away and you won't want to be blindsided.

Here's a few tips that helped me. I've had a fair amount of trauma based PTSD, but I'm healing and breathing easier now!

  • Make a list or journal about all the terrible things you have endured when things settle down. Surprisingly, you may be more able to remember the good things from long ago than the reality of why you left (wishful thinking?) At some time, you'll need to think through these things to make sense of what has happened. Others may not completely understand what's going on with you, and you will need to keep these reasons for leaving clear in your mind for awhile.
  • Incorporate as much peace and quiet into your life as you possibly can. There are a lot of chemical brain changes that are brought on by stress and you'll need time to heal. Physically, you will need time to heal as well as emotionally. Follow your internal regulator and try not to push yourself to do more than is comfortable.
  • You may even find yourself doing some of the things he did for awhile -- becoming forgetful, not being able to "attend", depression, and others. Don't fear -- you will come through it if you realize this possibility is expected.
  • Get all the help you can afford, but realize others may have a hard time completely understanding. Be there for yourself. You have fought hard for this.

I'm happy for you. It's interesting how many people (especially family) have noticed and been concerned for you, isn't it? I was sometimes "flabbergasted" about what people thought about him, but I never saw it!!! It helped me to hear that they didn't think I had made a mistake in leaving. Best wishes! Stay on this site and you'll never look back about leaving.


Hi lynnie,

I was definitely one of the people who wrote that. I am loading up a truck to move this morning after separating from my STBX spouse. I am trying to do it quietly, without a lot of drama, but unfortunately, it still seems to be "all about me" for my STBX. Last night I was taking care of our children, while packing quickly, while managing every financial and legal and logistical aspect of our separation, while he follows me around and requests to keep only the expensive or tough to replace or nice items we have shared over a decade, and leave me with the beat up ones or the ones that he wants. I don't even care--I just want to leave, lol! Leaving is so much better than keeping that chair!

But in the midst of this, last night, he got a headache. Moaning and making a huge scene. I murmured, "Can I help?" then blocked it out. And he lashed out at me, really yelling, because I was such a mean and cold person that I didn't stop or ask him how he was or help him (he didn't hear me). For the love of Pete riding on a giraffe in the middle of Mardi Gras! Really! He was so mean and angry and abusive!! I know it came from his pain over this situation, but our kids were there. I quietly apologized, thinking, "yeah, well, my knees and back hurt pretty bad, too, after packing up mine and our KIDS stuff by MYSELF over the past week while you sit there and don't help!"

But I also had a horrible flashback over another time he freaked out at me like that, out of the blue, and called me names. I truly do think I have PTSD. I am seeing a good therapist, and will address it with her next time. And thank you, lynnie. As much as I look forward to getting settled and away, I know that it won't all just disappear tomorrow. Moving is much more stressful than I remember. And I really appreciate your advice. 

Hang tough!

It's hard to move, especially with small kids. Do you have anyone to help you at all? Try to get everything you want, or at least a promise that you can have it (and maybe document that he said you could have it).

Remember, this lashing out is why you are leaving. His inability to feel empathy for others is not going to change just because you are going through something traumatic. It will probably be hard for you not to look to him for some comfort -- after all, even if he has been the source of your trauma, he has probably been the only source of comfort you have had access to for a long time.

Even with the PTSD problems, it has been well worth the breakup for me. It's much easier to look for solutions for your own healing than to look for solutions for someone elses' insane behavior. You will actually see continuing progress when you try to help yourself and your kids (unlike when you try to help him).

Expect there may be some bad dreams, flashbacks, anxiety, memory loss, and other symptoms. But they come and go-- and if you know what to expect, you can be your own advocate. Glad you have a good therapist to bounce off of. Hope she understands PTSD ( but if she trys to blame you  for the problems you had with him, find someone else. The last thing you need now is someone to plant underserved doubt in your mind.)

There is a lot of help on narsicist, psychopath, or abusive relationship survivors websites that can help you make sense of the relationship you had, even if you don't think he had those problems. They nail down some traits that you should not have to put up with in a normal relationship, and can help support you.

Keep us updated on your progress. Love and be good to yourself. You can be the best friend you ever had, and eventually you'll find someone who will respond to you will the kindness you have been willing to extend to them.


Thanks so much, Lynnie. I do have great friends, and got most of the important stuff out with them helping me. He began debating whether I should take each and every pot and pan, and I finally realized that I would rather leave without most of the junk we have accumulated than enter into a debate with him over it. My friends just stared at him as he asked them to take something that belongs to our kids apart, so that he could keep half of it, and I realized how silly this was and told him to just keep it. And he has called me, panicking, several times over his state of affairs and finances. This is the last bit of business he can entangle me with, and as soon as we have one more item settled, we can sign the papers and be done. I have already said several times, "I cannot be that person for you any more. You need to call someone else for help. Why don't you call one of your friends or family members?" Funny, he is so used to using me in this dynamic that the idea of calling friends or family is foreign to him. 

This morning, the kids and I are settled into a small but sunny apartment, hanging out, and it is so peaceful and quiet. They told me they love it. I appreciate your advice. Finding the term "narcissism" and websites and people like you have lit my path to this new chapter and subsequent recovery. And you are right--what a relief to worry about myself and my children without having to worry about how to navigate him. 

And one more thing. I will never forget people like you, and people like my friends, who swooped in and helped me when I needed it. My coworker's husband sneaked off and filled my gas tank when I wasn't looking. And the only way I can repay everyone is to be that person for others now. And I will--help other people who are going through a hard time, and pass it on. Thank you. 

Know what you mean

Yeah, when you are finally leaving, it is hard to let material goods hold you back even one second longer!! I eventually sent my grown son to pick up a few things I really wanted that he said I could have.

I'm happy for you. Breath deep and enjoy it. People out there love you! Sounds like you are doing a good job of setting up some boundaries right from the beginning.

There will probably be some times when you will question your decision, so journaling about your progress, why you left, and especially the insane behavior can keep you from going back and having to repeat everything all over again. I read somewhere that it takes the average woman in an abusive relationship 7 times before she leaves for good!

Sounds like you are on your way to easier times, however. Prayers and best wishes for you and your babies!