This forum has been life-saving for me and wanted to share my story, as I found so many relatable posts here. When I first started drafting this post, I wrote in the subject "In or out = ?" That is no longer so.
I’m a 28 year old girl, non, and was with my boyfriend for the past 1.5 year, on and off, with the longest ‘on’ lasting for 9 months, and the shortest 2 weeks. This has been my most serious and closest romantic relationship. In the beginning it was wonderful, he was very caring, attentive, affectionate and loving, and our sex was very exciting and close. I fell for him very quickly too, the way we imagined the future together definitely aligned, and it felt very genuine. I knew he had ADHD from the get-go, as he told me about it on our first date. With what I know now, he also has co-morbid conditions and has had a very difficult childhood - after his parents’ divorce, his mother uncontrollably went off Prozac overnight and wasn’t able to take care of him and his brother; she gave them to the father who within two years after that burnt down the house when he drunkenly fell asleep with a cigarette in his hand. I found out about these events by accident, in the passing, and my ex just brushed them off, saying they never had a big impact on his life (?!).
I have to say that the moment we started dating I was very uneducated what ADHD entailed in adults. The only issue I noticed at that time was his heightened anxiety. I have been dealing with my own anxiety too, rather about long term issues, but with him sometimes someone would say one word in the shop, or he would just be standing in the kitchen, and became unrecognisably distracted and disturbed, saying he had anxiety about something he can’t even pinpoint.
The moment our fairytale turned into my personal nightmare was exactly 6 months into the relationship. We were riding our bikes and he was extremely anxious the entire time. Then I jovially said something about a grammatical structure in my native Polish language “being weird” and he just flipped out on me, raging that he will never learn the language now, because I was “preconditioning him by judging that structure”. This was an extremely stressful time of my life, as I was in the process of quitting my job, and that evening he pushed me to such an extreme emotionally that I went on anti-anxiety meds the following week. He projected his own anxieties onto me so much, that I just couldn't handle it. From that point things only went South. He became very argumentative and manipulative, and I could never have a normal conversation with him about our issues. He would always turn things around, and rather than having a regular dialogue, he would ask me a series of leading, Socratic questions that inevitably led to an answer he wanted to hear. Whenever I responded to him a way he didn’t like he would start shouting that I’m being defensive, always guilting me for something and gas lighting me. He asked me to switch from condoms to the pill explicitly “because it felt better for him”, and when I gave him a good number of health-related reasons why I wouldn’t want to, he shouted “so you want to get pregnant?!”. He humiliated me in front of my friends saying “he can’t take me seriously” because I smoked socially with them. He had extreme contempt towards people in general, would argue with his co-workers on a regular basis, and during every important conversation would call his boss a “motherf*****.” He was mean by default and I felt it took him a lot of effort to be supportive, rather than a natural reaction, it was a favor. It’s hard for me to describe it in words, but this became so verbally abusive that I left him. After all these fights he always told me that he’d never loved anyone this much before and I recognise now that it was a cycle of abuse that would re-occur. However, it took me all this time to label his behavior as abusive. I think it's so much more difficult to call it that when it's verbal and psychological - after all, you're not visibly left with bruises, you're not bleeding.
I had a lot of hope when he went to therapy (took him a year after me suggesting it on a regular basis) to work on his issues and be together. His take-away was that his therapist told him that the things that bothered me in him “weren’t bad at all,” it was just that I saw them as bad. So he basically went to therapy to validate his bad behaviors. Towards the very end, every time we talked or saw each other, he initiated an endless fight. I also think that he had more anger issues because he started self-medicating with Concerta this year. He took a different dosage than what his doctor prescribed and would lie to her about it. I noticed his symptoms worsened in the evenings as the meds started wearing off and this is when we'd have most of our arguments. When I advised him not to do it, to speak to his doctor honestly, he tried to manipulate me into thinking that he can't. He was running laps in his mind that I don’t prioritise him - which in his possessive way meant devoting 100% attention to him - he told me that I loved my mother too much, that I loved my dog too much, I was afraid even to tell him that I’m seeing a friend. I always had to walk on eggshells around him. Despite all this, I still felt love and affection towards him. I was afraid that no one would ever love me again this much, but I realize now that the extreme highs I experienced with him were only so intense because of the lows I also went through (I've read this is typical when you're caught in someone's cycle of abuse). Any love I had towards him ended with his last communication “I would rather eat sh*t than be with you, you can’t love and can’t accept love.”
He was always so adamant about everything, that I almost believed these words - except I have a very strong support system of my friends and family, and with them I simply know it was him purposefully hurting and manipulating me, yet again. This forum helped me so much in understanding some of his behavioural patterns and absolving myself of the guilt I continuously felt with him. I do believe wholeheartedly that people can change, but they have to want to change. If I learned a lesson, through a lot of reading, is that I was caught in a cycle of abuse, and however true the initial feeling of love was, it turned into absolutely unhealthy love.