The Power of One: from victim to victory

Last week I wrote a post about my marriage and when I reread that post I know that it was written from a place of pain, sorrow and isolation. Now that I'm in a place that is more self-reflecting, I can honestly say that the one common denominator in all that has happened during the last 4 years of my marriage was me (my husband too, but self- reflection isn't about him!). This marriage has been extremely difficult for me. I won't reiterate everything in the post, but just say that the recent ADHD issues has opened my eyes to my own pain and yours, and I am finally able to take my finger pointing back from him and look at my own conduct, actions and reactions.

In a marriage counseling session (we have been to 3), he mentioned that he had ADHD (who knew?).  The counselor suggested that I read Melissa's book, and read it as well as all the information in the blogs. My first reaction was Hallelujah - validation - ok, I'm not crazy! Other people feel how I have felt for so long - rejected, angry, lonely, hopeless, and then some.   Everything that has happened seemed so insane - I felt, why or why can't my husband just change! Second, after reading the blogs, I felt immense fear - is this how my life is going to be forever? Cancer was bad, but ADHD (without treatment) - impossible.  I mean really, a person can only tolerate so much! So I reread the book.  I'm not sure if it was in her book or in the blogs, but I do distinctly recall that she (Melissa) made a decision one day (I recall it when she discovered her husband's infidelity) to manage her own happiness and in a matter of a few days had completely changed herself. Hmmm, how can that be? Can a person just make a decision and change just like that! It reminded me a bit like Charlie Sheen saying, forget AA, i just decided I'd stop drugs and alcohol and then it was so! Winning! I admit I still think Charlie is in denial about his addictions, and let's not even talk about his outrageous behavior, but maybe Melissa was onto something.   So I went on an exploration to discover, how can someone really change themselves.  I read a lot of different stuff about boundaries, managing stress, and other self-help type books, and this is what I take away from it all:

1. The only person you change is yourself. Our buttons get pushed by others (sometime it seems like a million times) often. Yet it is our reaction to their statements, actions, etc., that we can control. Up until this point I really thought it was just instinct, human action.  Our reactions are based on our thoughts, and from all thoughts come our actions and emotions - either positive or negative. What I find so awesome about this, is that when someone does something to us, we can chose how we feel about it and how we respond.  Maybe I'm dense, but this was really enlightening for me, and also quite humbling, because you mean I have caused  this emotional turmoil in my life because of my own thoughts!  Hey, I'm not excusing his behaviors and choices, but learning that I can really just decide not to go to emotional hell - why that is just downright fabulous!  When I started to think about it I wondered, why do we act and react like we do with our partners - for me it's probably because I care. But if my neighbor or a stranger did the same thing to me that he was doing, would I react the same way?  Would hate, mean or vile things come out of my mouth at them?  I hope not. So something he is saying or doing must trigger some fear me, and I'm reacting from that fear framework. What am I afraid of: rejection, failure, not being loved, whatever.   So I became an observer of myself, focusing on how his behavior and actions made me feel. What's was I telling myself about me? Was I was telling myself, he doesn't care about me or my feelings, he doesn't love me?  Yes and I interacted with him on that basis.

2.  Stopping the Blame Game.  In this game of tug and war that we play with each other, it only takes one to drop the rope.  Then, game over.  If I'm honest with myself, my focus has really been on based on fiction ..."if he would change X! then I'd be happy (or happier)." I have wasted so much time agonizing over what my husband did or didn't do, that I swear it felt, at times, like a serious mental break. All this time, and I was giving him the power over my own happiness.  Whether I was happy or sad, having a good or bad day, I looked to him. Let me tell you, that it has been an exercise in total futility, inefficiency and ineffectiveness. How was that working for me? Not well, not well at all. I dedicated my emotional wellbeing to his actions. My behavior caused his own fears and reactions, and around and around we went. I blamed my husband and he blamed me. The truth is I was scared. I was fighting for my life and he was causing me so much pain. I ranted and raved, demanded, begged and pleaded for him to change. How can you be so disorganized, how can you not remember xyz, how can you drink to such excess, take drugs, talk with strange women on the Internet, why do you treat me like I'm invisible. Do you not hear me. Don't you not care about the pain it is causing me? I felt terrible about myself. Surely i was not worthy or he wouldn't treat me this way. I withdrew, built up barriers to protect myself and those barriers become so wide and high that i became lost and could not for the life of me understand how we could be so emotionally disconnected. How can someone feel so extremely alone in a marriage? All I got during all my tirades was the same treatment from him in return: more distance, more feelings of loneliness and despair. I ended up angry, frustrated, in a bleeding wounded relationship. What was most frustrating is that he really didn't seem to be bothered at all.  Just went about his life, like our relationship was just normal.  Giving him the emotional wellbeing just resulted in me losing my soul. Who I am, anyway, and how the hell did I get here! Surely I should have recognized the signs before I married him. How can he say he loves me and treat me with so poorly. I felt terrible about myself. Total victim! Shifting the focus away from him to me and what I can do to create happiness for me is leading me to VICTORY!

3. Who are you anyway?  My fulfillment in my life is emphatically not his job. Do two unhappy people make one happy marriage? Not usually. There must be a better way. I think Melissa is right, when it's all said and done and no matter what the outcome, we are just simply left to be ourselves. Why do we get so lost?  For me, I am beginning the new journey of self-discovery. I need to find what makes me happy, brings me joy and rediscover who I want to be in the days or years to come. I know I don't like that angry, frustrated person that I have become. I don't think the change will happen overnight, but its beginning, and man, DOES IT FEEL GOOD!

4. Boundaries are your friend. We put up walls for a reason. My husband's deception and behavior deeply hurt me. He tried to break them down by trying to strong arm me into just dropping them. i had dropped them in the past, why couldn't i drop them now? He would say "I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, you need to forgive and forget," all the while not changing a thing about himself. It isn't as simple as "bus driver, move that bus!". Both his words and actions would need to shift before that wall ever comes down.  The decision to set the boundary and enforce the boundary is mine.  His behavior to rebuild trust and manage other ADHD issues is up to him. Whatever he does or doesn't do is only in his power. I have released him, because I have absolutely no power to change him. He can continue to live his life with the profound effects of ADHD but those behaviors don't have to affect me, if I establish appropriate boundaries and stick with them.  I am by no means a neat freak, but his level of disorganization is beyond my wildest dreams.  I have argued, begged, organized (a million times) his stuff, and almost instantly it is back to that disorganized state.  It made me crazy!  I protested for one month and refused to clean anything, hoping that it would get so bad that he couldn't stand it.  That day never came for him but did for me.  I don't recommend the strike approach, because really he was clueless - stuff could be surrounding him and I swear he couldn't see it - and I was the only one that suffered in the mess.  Dishes in the sink, no problem - Is it really so hard to unload the dishwasher, just once in 4 years!  Apparantly it is!  Trying to drum up the enthusiam in him to care about  something that is important to you - seems impossible.  So I said to myself, so what, what are you going to do about it?  If he wants to live like a slob, then he can live that way in his own messy space. I threw ALL his stuff in one room, and closed the door.  When I found something laying around the house that belonged to him, in the closed door room.  If he can't find what he needs or misplaces it, then oh well, he will just have to find what is missing for himself (unless of course, I choose to help him). If he shows up 5 hours after he said he would be back, my day/evening does not have to be ruined. If he yells at me, blames me for his misery, that is up to him. I don't have to listen, and I certainly don't have to believe what he says as if it's some true statement about me. I can evaluate and determine what's true for me and make decisions for myself. 

I am not a perfect person. I make mistakes. However, I can now evaluate things from a cleaner lens. I can encourage him and create the space for him to grow. I can stop blaming him for my misery and go about finding it for myself. Melissa offers many good strategies for negotiating your way to your own space of happiness. i look forward to trying them. Will I feel like I feel now everyday from this day forward? Probably not! But what I know for sure is that with the focus off him and on myself, and appropriate boundaries I can be and I am much happier!

4. Learn to value yourself.  We each have value and worth, regardless of our flaws. If you are like me, that worth is very vulnerable, easily damaged or devalued. If I think about my own value, needs and desires, I can say I love you to my partner, but I can also say that I do not feel comfortable about joining you in anything that diminishes my value to myself.  I don't mean that you become selfish, rather you decide for yourself what you can live with and what you can't. The boundaries you set to protect your own value may hinder your relationship. It may feel like the connection with your partner is next to impossible. You need to trust yourself to remember how valuable you are. If you value yourself, there is always someone taking responsibility for you - you are. Do you know how God sees you? Precious, worthy of honor and love, strong and wise. Tend to yourself, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. Keep you batteries charged and your tanks full. When we do that then we are in a better position to respond to whatever may come our way.  Stress does have physical and emotional ramifications to our body.  Living in a chronic state of stress can frankly kill you.  I feel better now that I have stopped the emotional chaos for myself. I am now learning to value myself and looking forward to discovering who I really am, without all of the drama. He still pushes my buttons, but now I can stop for a moment and breath and say how does that align with my values and beliefs. It no longer derails me.  I wish there was a magic formula to make the pain go away faster. I have to grieve the fantasy that I thought my marriage would be and take care of myself.   I don't know whether my marriage will survive or not.   However, I do know that whatever happens, I will be stronger and happier, regardless of that outcome. God speed in your healing. In the meantime, if you have other suggestions on this road I'm taking to self-discovery, I'd love to hear about it.  At least we can lean on each other for support and encouragement.

Hooray, it's a new day!

On the same journey...my take on it.

I read this with tears in my eyes the entire time...we, my friend, are in the same place...or at least I have this place you speak of in my sights.

1. It is very humbling, and equally devastating, to know that our reactions have screwed things up just as horribly as their behaviors. Me too! I thought "this is just me..being human..my anger is just what naturally happened as he hurt me so many times" but my anger has been fueled by fear. My anger was a means of controlling him...boy, that worked out well..NOT. Still even to this day I find myself KNOWING that I'm reacting in a harmful way...tell myself over and over..but my pride gets in the way. Ironically, during Bible study this week the subject of pride came up and it was not something I had thought of as part of my reactions, but it hit me like a ton of bricks..my pride is keeping me from being happy. My pride and my fear (of many different things) is keeping me in a holding pattern that I don't want to be in. Anger was replaced with these. Also, when we 'control' then..or try to..then it really does remove the responsibility from them to control themselves. Just like with chores...if we do it all, they don't have to. If we continue to use our tactics to get our way and take on the responsibility of worrying about it for them, then they really just don't have to be accountable. WE feel like WE failed...because we couldn't get them to do what was right...when all along, we had no right even trying to 'make' them do anything. She said "Sherri, as long as you let him know that you're fearful of him doing ABC, and he feels you're somewhat expecting it, then he goes out into the world everyday with that expectation...that you think he'll fail. Let him know, instead that you are just going to trust him to do the right thing and let him carry the burden of guilt 100% if he doesn't. Let him walk around in his own world, in his own skin, knowing that you're there completely trusting in him and believing in him that he'll do the right thing. Then and only then will he be left to really debate within himself if his choices are right for HIM or right for your marriage". Not in those exact words, but that was her point. Amazing stuff. Now I need to put it into practice.

2. I think the key to this for me will come with the acceptance that a lot of his seemingly selfish and uncaring behaviors aren't personal. I'm reading Melissa's book right now...praying I gain more insight and understanding of his ADHD. I do, for the most part, still blame him for everything that is wrong. Granted, his ADHD is really in high gear right now and completely untreated as well...but that does not excuse my reactions and thoughts. My negative thoughts alone are choking any chance for progress...even my own personal progress.

3. I've been shoved into this one head first...by him. He checked out about 4 months ago (emotionally and physically) and retreated to our den and left me to handle everything alone. I didn't even have the option to just 'talk' to him about things and share my life and issues with him. He didn't want to hear it, couldn't hear it...couldn't cope with his own crap, much less anything else. I have finally started to detach from him in this way...and learning that I can go out and do things and have a good time without him being right by my side. It used to cause me intense grief and stress to go to a family gathering (my family) without him. Now I do it and actually enjoy myself and don't obsess over him the entire time and rush through things so I can get back home. I am not sure if this is the beginning of the end of our marriage...or if it is the beginning of the end of me being so codependent. I guess only time will tell. I have to make happiness for myself...because you're right, it isn't up to them. It is fantastically wonderful when they make us happy...do things that make us feel good about ourselves..make us feel loved. We all want to feel loved, right? But we must learn to provide all of these feelings for ourselves first. Otherwise it becomes an unhealthy need that no human being should have to bear...being responsible for someone else's happiness.

4. Boundaries...boundaries vs. acceptance of who they are. I struggle hard with this one. I want him to go to church with me. I NEED him to go to church with me. I NEED to feel from him that God is important to him because I feel it is a key part of the puzzle for our marriage. He asked me "what do you need me to do in order for you to trust me again?" I gave a short list..which included 'start going to church with me again'. He said he would..but backed out at the last minute. The devastation oozed from my pores. I held back tears all the way to church because I'm tired of showing up with the look of utter despair on my face. I want to show up HAPPY for just once in my life!!! Happy to be there for God. For ME. Is this a boundary...or just something I need to accept (his right to choose whether he attends church or not)? If feels as important to me as his being faithful...or not beating me. And, I feel I have made so many concessions...accepted so many things (amazing what one can learn to live with that they swore they would never tolerate) that why should I just let yet another thing fall by the wayside if it is so important to me? I don't know...I struggle here a lot.

5. Valuing yourself. This truly comes from having a great support group of people who remind you just how valuable you are...but most importantly for me, like you said, it comes from knowing that God loves me beyond any human comprehension...that I am His bride...and that He wants nothing more than a relationship with me. He loves me just as I am, values me more than any mortal ever could, and wants me to see the beauty in myself as He does. He also wants me to see the beauty in my husband as He does. I pray everyday that I will know God's will for me, so that I may live a life that I can be proud of..which will help me love myself enough to detach my husband's actions from my own self-worth. If I am to believe him, he loves me beyond belief and cannot imagine his life without me. I want to believe that..but it all comes back to accepting and understanding what is ADHD and what isn't.

I wish you all of the best. Did I recommend CoDependent No More by Melody Beattie to you yet? If not, GET IT. I'm charging my daughter's iPad as I type so that I can listen to a few chapters this week. I need that 'recharge' every so often and I don't do it often enough to keep up my stamina in my struggle to crawl out of the rubble, regain my footing, and then tackle the seemingly impossible task of cleaning up the mess in a healthy, productive way. God be with us both.

 

 

 

Give Yourself Grace

Thank you for your message, it made me cry. Please know that we each individually need to get to the place to make the decisions that are right for us. Give yourself some grace. When we know better we do better. I have had 4 years of misery, while I personally was battling cancer, so I did not make the decisions that I made overnight! Frankly, as I said it was very validating to find a reason (other than blaming myself) for my husband's behavior. I still have a great deal of compassion and empathy for his condition, but I've been able to separate his behavior from me. ADHD does not excuse bad behavior and when he makes a choice to act (or not act) there maybe consequences for those actions. I don't want to say cancer is like ADHD, but I was the one that had to make decisions about treatment. I had to live with the side effects and decide what was tolerable and what was not. In a similar vain, my husband has to treat his condition. I can love and support him when he makes an effort, but if he chooses not to, then I make a choice? Do nothing and be angry and upset, enforce the boundary, or negotiate a compromise. I have lived in the space of "covering for him", that did not work for me because I became resentful. I sooooo get your anger! There was a day a few weeks ago when I heard about the ADHD effect on marriage, where I thought I had let it all go. I swear I said to myself, "this must be what God's grace feels like.". A week later I was so flipping mad, I thought where did that come from. It's a process. Some days i do better than others, but im learning, just like you) However, I know that I can start each new day fresh and keep reminding myself that I do not have to devalue myself and my worth because of his choices and decisions. In the heat of the moment, I have to literally tell myself to breath, calm down the emotions and find my center by asking myself, what does this make you feel? And is it true? If what Melissa says is true (and my counselor agrees) that what he is doing is not personal to me (e.g., like he doesn't care about me because he does xyz or I've told him a million times to stop and he keeps doing it anyway!) then I'm better able to focus on the boundary. Yes, we all want and deserve to be loved. We can wish and dream, but what is reality? They do it or don't, we can get emotionally crazy or we don't have to. The bigger the issue they are faltering in, the harder it is to set a boundary. For example, some people write about financial struggle, or their partner is inconsistent in looking for work or holding a job. It wouldn't be an easy choice to choose being homeless - but I guess I'd say to the Non-ADHD person, what can you do about it? All the screaming and crying doesn't work, so what choice do you have? Enabling and boundaries are different - I think with boundaries you are still enforcing your own values and worth, and enabling you just grin and bare it, and don't hold the other person accountable. I still have a lot to learn on that topic, and Henry Cloud's book on Boundaries is excellent. He also has an excellent book called it's Not My Fault, although it doesn't talk about Adhd, it does talk about being accountable for ourselves. As for going to church, I can only offer my personal opinion. I don't think you can force someone to go. I don't mean to suggest that you are forcing, all you can really do is ask him if he'd like to join you, if he does good, if he doesnt continue to pray for him, ask God to help lead your husband to Him, and hope that by his observing your dedication to the Godly path, he will join you. I think you can leave the issue in God's hand. God has way more power than we do and we don't know about all the hard work God is doing behind the scenes to make "all things for our good". My husband goes sometimes, but not often and I don't think he has ever read the bible. I've given him one, if he chooses to read it it might just help him, but I don't let his choice distract from my faith. I am accountable to God for that. I would love it if we shared our faith. When we dated we went together all the time. But not now. It makes me sad, but it's just another wish not fulfilled yet. Anyhow, don't be to hard on yourself. God's grace applies to you too! Know that I am on the sidelines cheering you on! God bless! Kathie Anyhow, I'm probably just rambling.

One more thing about church

You are entitled to set whatever boundaries that are good for you. I encourage you to not compromise your values for him. When I reread your message and it said is this just one more thing I have to give up? My answer is NO! I think what you really want Is for him to have a relationship with God. So you cpuld share that together. Don't give up your hope for that. I'm just not sure requiring him to go to church achieves your dream. It's a step for sure. Only you can decide that! I'm praying for you.

at just the right moment

kmh and sherriw13,
I found both your posts this morning.... and they felt as if they were written for me. Let me start this long rambling by saying that yesterday, or I should say in the middle of last night, I thought I finally made a decision about my marriage - that I was going to ask for a separation. I couldn't take it anymore and the events of yesterday just cemented my decision. Is a separation what I want? No, not really, but I have become someone I no longer recognize and despite my best efforts to stay true to my soul, I have changed and not for the better. I struggle with all of the same things you both wrote about.



After reading your posts, I believe that I have to "fix" myself first and see where that takes "us" before making such a decision like separation and divorce (I understand that "fix" is not the best word here, but have nothing better to substitute it with). I have had Melissa's book sitting on my nightstand for months now. To be honest, I've opened it a couple times, started reading it and mostly - out of fear of what I might read - put the book down.

As difficult as it may sound, although I feel I have been trying to be honest about the part I played in the downward spiral of my marriage, maybe I have not been honest enough. I too felt that my reactions were instinctual, a matter of necessity and survival. I did try to keep moving along, keep doing the things I enjoyed - but I also see that I was forcing myself to do these things to not lose to much of myself, but lost me anyway. Mostly because, I wanted someone to share these things with and if not share, have someone to encourage and be happy for me that I was doing the things I loved. For example, doing things like continuing my education, running my first 5K, using my other desires and skills for being outdoors and being able to do good things like raise money for charities that I am passionate about. 



But when I would return home and have nothing, not an ounce of encouragement or any type of cheering squad, that I thought I should have - the anger and resentment just built and built. I thought - what Husband can't even congratulate his wife on getting her master's degree, what did I do wrong, maybe I didn't make him understand what an accomplishment that I thought it was. The walls got thicker and and the anger well got deeper. Instead of seeing it wasn't personal, it was something he didn't and doesn't see, I took it to heart and let it break down ME.

I've bookmarked this page and plan on returning to read it again and again, as I am sure it will hopefully help me become that person I feel I need to be. I will be pulling out Melissa's book and not put it down because I get scared.

Does any of this mean my marriage is salvageable, I don't know. But I know that I am salvageable. I know that I have a wonderful amazing little boy who thinks I am awesome and needs me to be the best me I can be. I need me to be the best me I can be. 



So thank you ladies, it’s only 7:45 in the morning here and I think that I can say with a little humor that although I know were aren’t supposed to let other people have control I think that “you have made my day!” And I hope that I continue with this optimism for myself ....

You are valuable!

I know exactly how you feel. Yes you deserve to be encouraged, supported and loved! Congrats on your masters degree - yes it is a huge accomplishment, but even more so because YOU did it! Did I want a separation? No. But I did know that the stress and emotional hell I was going through was killing me! Cancer treatment was easier than how I felt at home. Personally, I don't think marriage is supposed to be that hard! We have lived like bad roommates for the last year, during a significantly bad medical year for me. Did I deserve to be loved and supported - absolutely. Did I take his treatment of me personally - absolutely. Was I angry, resentful, natty, bitchy? Yep! Did I blame him for my misery - yep! Do I still? Probably, but with a partially changed heart, because just maybe his actions were really not personal to me. Does it make what he did to me ok, No, but it helped me see that it wasn't intentionally directed at me. Trust me I really thought that he was thinking of ways just to make me more miserable. For me, I just couldn't not tolerate being in the same space, even if he was in the other room. I still knew he was there, and I still had anxiety and the knot in my stomach waiting for all hell to break loose. The pretending like I didn't exist was Extremely hard. Even in a short time, I feel so much better! I can't explain it other that to say I can breathe, and I feel peace! And I am in a place where I can focus on my own happiness. Does he still try to engage me, You bet! But I really did just dropped the rope! When he's blabbering on about something or throwing his digs at me, I just tell myself that he is a liar, that I'm worthy as a person, no person deserves to be treated like this. His drama doesn't have to he my drama. Whatever I need to say to stop the mental torture. He's cried and apologized and swears he will be better! That's hooked me in the past, but not anymore. Actions speak so much louder than words! Do I sometimes feel a little guilt, thinking he has a disease that needs proper treatment. Yes he does, but where was he when I was battling cancer - drinking, partying, cheating, emotionally absent - causing me so much emotional stress while I was just fighting to stay alive! I don't mean to suggest and eye for an eye, but don't I deserve some peace of mind? Some happiness? When I finally was able to put myself first, I could remember, yes, I do deserve that. The bible says to love your neighbor AS yourself - that means you have to love yourself before you have any love to give. It's like the flight attendants say on the plane - put your oxygen masks on BEFORE you assist your child. Not because they want you to hurt your child, because an oxygen deprived adult may not be able to assist their child! We cannot be in a place to even begin to assist our partners until we are healthy and happy ourselves. For me, I feel compassion for the struggles my husband may be going through - how difficult it must have been to have the world spinning around in your head. Perhaps he dealt with it through addiction? I dont really know bc the word ADHD never come up until a few weeks ago. I thought he took them for the speed effecI (after all he was an alcohol and took drugs in the past) - causing me pure terror! Our counselor told us about the book. I read it, he didn't (just rolled his eyes)! He has to help himself. I can love him and support him if I want, but only from a place where I am emotionally whole. So that is what I'm working on. Every day! Sometimes I have hiccups, but Man, I feel alive! I feel peace. I wake up happy, not with swollen shut eyes from crying. And you know if I have to deal with him, it's from a better place bc I am in a better place. I'm not promoting separation or divorce, But find that place where you can begin to just take care of you! Celebrate your achievements! Hell throw yourself a party and surround yourself with people who will love and support you! String enough of those days together, and you will be jogging, then running, then sprinting! Hooray for that day, and give yourself a whole lot of grace! Start believing you are worth it! Because you are!

He won't talk about trust, he

He won't talk about trust, he gets angry and emotional and accuses me of drilling him. In my perspective it is minimal basi c inquiries and his reaction is dispropotionate. Leads me to see ?

trust

 I have so been there. Do you ask simple questions, trying to fill in the blanks, and you get jumped on. I'm not trying to necessarily be nosey, it's usually stuff I (feel I) need to know.
Then do you get the opposite if he asks you questions? My husband will ask me questions, after questions, after questions and I had better give him all the details he wants or he gets angry. Or he will ask the simplest questions about things that should be so obvious like "the baby is poopy, should I change him?" I've learned that is probably also part of the ADHD...

I wish there was a magical answer to give you. The only real thing I can tell you, is what I have learned here - you can only change yourself. That's what I'm working on right now... myself. I'm trying to focus on me, what I can do to make me happier. I've only been at it a few days, but I feel better and I think he's trying harder to. It's hard for me to get overly optimistic because he's done this before and the changes are not permanent. There's another area that I have difficulty with TRUST. When they say they're going to work on something, but there's no follow through. Another factor of ADHD...

I guess the difference now is, that I'm just going to keep going, keep trying to be a happier me. In the past I would try, he'd start trying and then stop. So I would stop and get angry and then angrier. I can't do that anymore, it has turned me into something I don't want to be. I don't know if I will continue to succeed, but I have to give it my best - for me and my son.

I don't know if I have been any help to you at all notokayanymore, but I can tell you I have been there, lots of the other members here have been there. Know that you are not alone and keep posting and reading posts. You never know when someone will have something to say that can help!

wow timing Sherri

I just posted for you on the other forum two seconds before reading this series of postings

Re-reading all of that, it

Re-reading all of that, it sounds like it came from a different person. It never ceases to amaze me how far I can go (good or bad) in such a short period of time. I will go search for your other post...

Sherri

victim to victory

I have done exactly as you are doing.  I too, took Melissa's advice, several years ago and rediscovered who I am and now live life mainly for myself.  My husband accompanies me ever so often but the peace, happiness and joy I have finally found scares him half to death.  It is really sad but I don't know if he will ever be able to get there.  I am clearly by myself on this journey.  It has been life changing for me, physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually.  I stay away from the chaos and drama as much as possible, which has really helped.  I fought for years to try and make our goals, dreams, values and beliefs line up with each other but they never have and never will.  In letting go, I am now OK with that.  He is on his own.  Free, at last!

Tried to drop the rope

Well, I thought I was doing so good. I "dropped the rope." I was doing my best to stop the tug of war that is the blame game. With a couple exceptions, like when the In Laws were here visiting and during our family gathering the 4th of July weekend, I had pretty much just been trying really hard at making myself happy and keeping the big picture in mind. I thought things were getting better.

So, last night, my ADHD husband said he wanted to talk. Yes, believe it or not, he wanted to talk. At the beginning of the discussion, I had a moment where I thought maybe he's getting this - he's finally getting that I am trying to understand, trying to be empathetic and maybe he can be a empathetic to me and what my life is like living with someone with ADHD.
I was wrong, it came right back to me still not doing enough to help, not listening to or understanding what he was saying, not being patient, not being supportive. That rope I dropped, was now hanging around my neck. According to him it is my fault, or someone else's, but not his. The lies that come from his mouth scare me sometimes. It’s like we have conversations and he is hearing something totally different. I have had people witness these conversations and can say to me that this was said or wasn’t said. I used to think it was me, that I was going crazy. Now I know it’s not me, it’s the way his ADHD brain interprets and remembers.

I had to stop the conversation. My heart is crushed. I need to refocus and figure out what to do here. Until recently, part of me kept telling myself that I am better with him in my son’s and my life, then out. More and more, I am thinking that it might be I would be better with him somewhere else. Somewhere where I don’t have to worry about this day to day struggle. I am EXHAUSTED. Physically, mentally emotionally exhausted.

I want that happy little zen thing I had going for the last few weeks back.

Today is another day. I just need to process all this and start anew. Only I can make me happy and I cannot be responsible for his happiness.

Could you be a tiny bit more

Could you be a tiny bit more specific of something, like a couple of things that he said that were not true, or that you felt were false accusations so that maybe I could help you guide these conversations into a different direction? Or at the very least help you not come out of them feeling beaten down and defeated? I will tell you about a conversation we had last night when I get back..I have to run to town..but it was a perfect example of him hearing/feeling what he wants even though the words he said I said did not come from my mouth...and I feel I walked away from that conversation successful in convincing him that it was his thoughts and not my words...and hopefully gave him something to think about.

 

Ok..first let me say that

Ok..first let me say that when he wants to talk...and you see the conversation heading in the 'it's all your fault' direction, immediately tell him "I really would like to continue this coversation a little later..I am not comfortable with where it is going" and walk away from it. These things being allowed to be said only adds to the hopelessness and devastation of the situaton. I have had to make it very, very clear to my husband that the 'blame game' is over. I won't do it anymore. NEVER. I quit going to counseling because of it. Counseling that, once upon a time, REALLY helped us with our communication gap. He started ADHD  meds and it started all over again...so I quit going. WILL NOT WASTE THE REST OF MY LIFE LISTENING TO THAT BULL$H!T!! At the same time, I am trying not to corner him with 'blame' either. Very hard to do when, deep down, I do feel like his being untreated is the cause of many of our issues...but it can be done without blame. Just stop him when he starts 'going there' and saving yourself the 'crushed' feelings. IT IS ADHD...it is not your husband. The ADHD will crush you...so you need to recognize it and walk away from it. The 'tone' of the marriage needs to be changed from "if you weren't _____, then I wouldn't be _____" it isn't about being right or one person being more to blame..it is about agreeing to disagree on some issues, compromising on others, and learning to accept and live with the rest.

My conversation last night...he mentioned the night before that he wanted 2 more tattoos. He intially wanted only 2. He already has 3. He has impulse control issues. You can imagine where my mind goes..."he'll never stop. he said he only wanted 2. He has 3. He'll end up with them all over himself" I didn't say much other one comment about how unattractive I think men who are covered in tattoos are and how I worried that he wasn't going to ever stop.(he threw in a comment about "you're really not going to like where I am getting it"..I didn't even ask...knew it would only make the situation turn ugly) I wasn't mad, yelling, or being ugly about it. I came to bed..he assumed I was mad..but I told him I wasn't..and I wasn't. That was the end of the conversation.

We got on the subject of his recent doctor's visit and his doctor's suspicions about him being bipolar in additon to his ADHD. This conversation led to his accusing me of telling him "NO" to "two things in the past 24 hours" (another was a stupid conversation we had about him getting a Jeep). He said that I told him "no" to getting a tattoo. I stopped him immediately and I said "at no point did I EVER tell you no." I repeated back to him what I had said and made it clear, short, and to the point..."I did not tell you that you could not get a tattoo. I did not get mad about it either" and I have admitted to him that I used to use my anger as a way of manipulating him to get my way...so he knows that me not getting angry was more proof that I was NOT trying to 'tell him' what to do. I said "you know how I feel about men who are covered in tattoos. I have a right to have likes and dislikes. You need to respect the fact that it is something I don't like. Why you feel I told you 'no' even when the words NEVER came out of my mouth is because my feelings on the matter did not go along with what you wanted..therefore,. in your mind, I told you no. It is your body. You do not need my approval to do what you want with your body. I happen to not like too many tattoos but I will not divorce you for getting tattoos and I will still love you and find you attractive if you got a couple more. you have to learn that just because I don't agree with you, it does not mean that I am trying to control you..it just simply means we do not agree on something" I also explained to him that this kind of false accusation happens a lot and pointed out a couple of other ways in which he accuses me of doing things that I simply did not do.

I could go on and on about how many things during our conversation that he accused me of that were simply untrue and how I went about, calmly but meticulously, dissecting them and proving to him that he was wrong to accuse me of them...I can give more examples if you'd like. The key is to remain calm. Not get upset. Not get emotional. Not take it personally. Assume that he's capable of seeing things, but also understand that he won't 'get' or 'see' anything once he's in 'defensive mode' and it is a complete waste of time after that. Decide...is it something we are simply going to have to agree to disagree on, is it something that is going to require a compromise, or is it something that we can simply just walk away from and let go?..and handle it accordingly.

I have been accused of every single one of the things you were accused of in your conversation with him. They are the oldest 'tricks' in the book to deflect blame. In my case my husband's idea of being 'supportive' and 'respectful' is simply me going along with anything and everything he says, does, wants, etc. It simply is not always possible. I have told him "I cannot support you when you are being hurtful to your family" I support him in the sense that I am here and I am fighting for our marriage...but I cannot support him in his neglecting of his family. I have said to him many times too "I cannot accept something that you do that is hurtful simply because it is easier for me to accept it than it is for you to change it." Part of his role in the marriage is to protect, not hurt, his family. Also, you need to make it clear to him that you are not willing to take all of the blame and if that is the way he wants to direct his conversations, then he'll have to have a conversation with himself. I have tried very hard to start demanding specifics...if you tell me I'm not being supportive, then I want a specific situation or you have NO RIGHT to throw such a blanket accusation at me. Nine times out of 10, if he's even able to give an example, it is simply me not agreeing with him..and I point that out.. "my opinion/reality does not agree with yours...that doesn't make me unsupportive, it just means we don't agree". He's always accusing me of not wanting him to have his own opinion, of me wanting him to have my opinion and go along with everything I feel and think....and the sad irony of that situation is that it is the complete opposite. I admit I used to spend countless hours trying to convince him I wasn't the horrible, controlling evil person that he was accusing me of being...that he did have faults and made mistakes...and I guess he is still stuck in that mind frame...but I haven't been that person in almost 2 years...it is time to bury her and let her go.

He is always looking for my approval...and I understand that...but at some point he needs to just be comfortable making a decision and sticking with it. (tattoos, hair styles, etc).

One last thing...he's very defensive about his recent doctor's visit and the possibility of him being bipolar. I understand that...but he started attacking me over that too. I said "I truly just want you to be happy" "no, no you don't!...you just want me to take your medicine..." and I stopped him dead in his tracks and I said "do NOT tell me what I do or do not feel...it is my deepest desire for you that you be happy with yourself...you have no right to tell me that is NOT how I feel. " and went on to point out that there were not MY meds...I simply went along with him to the doctor because he ASKED me to and that I had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with what his doctor said, diagnosed, or prescribed and that I had avoided going for the past year simply to avoid being accused of what I was being accused of. He accused me of 'manipulating' the situation. I said "you tell me one thing, one single thing, that I said that was not true. Being honest is NOT manipulative. I was honest with him and he came to his own conclusions. You are wrong to accuse me of 'diagnosing' you or of being responsible for what he said or what he prescribed for you." How can he honestly sit there and tell me that he has come to the conclusion that I did anything wrong when the facts speak for themselves? He couldn't. He dropped it. He didn't get defensive, I didn't get defensive, and it was probably the most productive and meaningful conversation we've had in MONTHS.

There is so much back story

There is so much back story and baggage that it would take pages to try and explain. I'll try to sum up a couple of the zingers that got tossed my way that night.
The first one dealt with the all mighty procrastination / ADHD monster. He had promised to take care of some yard work - last summer. It finally got done yesterday with the help of one of my brothers. If my brother hadn't have come over to help - it still would not be done.

In the course of the conversation last night - HE BROUGHT it up. And then blamed another brother (I have 3 brothers - all very handy) for it not getting done last year. And when I questioned his reasoning and tried to pick it apart he managed to try and get his procrastination to be my fault too.

He also mentioned his sleep apnea and some of the issues that go along with that. I had gotten up the night before and moved out to sleep on the couch because he had been talking in his sleep. He tells me how would you feel if you thought you were dying and your wife just gets up and walks out of the room. My question to him was - how was I supposed to know that - you talk in your sleep all the time and it’s gibberish and why did you think you were dying? He gave me no answer just says that “well I felt like I was dying.”

There’s a whole issue with him and his machine and his sleep habits. Habits that sometimes including talking/yelling in his sleep and slapping and kicking at me in his sleep. I lose a lot of sleep because of this and it upsets me that he is so "whatever" about it too. He told me to just wake him up when this happens. And in the past I have, but then he gets snappy / mean and it does nothing to help me get back to sleep. Getting smacked in the head when you are sound asleep has a tendency to get your heart racing and slightly prevents you from falling back to sleep.

I made the mistake that night of asking what he did about his sleep apnea when he was single and he said he had a dog and he'd smack at her, she'd wake him up. He'd adjust himself and fall back to sleep. It was just mean how he said it, there was nothing kind or joking about it. I told him that I felt that he just called me a dog. A dog that's not doing its job because I will get up and sleep elsewhere when it gets really bad. He flat out says - well I NEED my sleep. Like I don't need sleep and I am sorry but there is nothing acceptable about getting kicked or hit - even if he is doing it in his sleep. I also mention that when he was single and had the dog - he didn’t have the c-pap machine. (A machine that I paid for because he wasn’t working and had no insurance until we got married - I didn’t say that, but I was thinking that). I did mention to him that as long as she had been alive (the dog he refers to) she never slept up on the bed and that he told me she didn’t sleep on the bed. (That it was a point of contention for us when we first got together that my dog did sleep on my bed and he didn’t like that.) So please explain how he could slap her and have her wake him up if she wasn’t in the bed to begin with. I didn’t really care if she was on the bed or not - again - I was trying to show him the faulty logic in his story.

I know it doesn’t sound like much - but these are just two of the several topics that were hit on during that discussion. He tried to berate me for all the time I spend working out, how we never do anything anymore and a couple other sore topics. The last one, about the sleep apnea and the hitting and the dog is the point where I told him that I didn’t like where the conversation was going and I needed to end it and process things.

He got up yesterday and spent the day like NOTHING had transpired the night before.

I am back to trying to make me a happier person and making sure my son’s life is the best I can make it. I have to focus on that because I really do think it was helping my overall situation. I just get so sad and angry sometimes at the way I thought my marriage and my life would be versus the actual reality of it. I know that so many people on this forum can understand. I could go on and on and on about all the things he’s lied about, procrastinated on, changed his story on, etc but it isn’t going to change the reality of it - it won’t make it any better and it just reminds me of things that I’m trying to put behind me and move on from.

I appreciate your words of wisdom SherriW13. I know that what you have and are going through is just as difficult if not more so than what I am dealing with. I just appreciate the chance to present these things and situations and gain insight from the people who have been there and understand. My family tries, but they don’t have any concept of what ADHD does to a life, and a marriage, and a family.
 

Ok..the yardwork/brother

Ok..the yardwork/brother situation. I would simply say "for whatever reason, it did not get done until (my brother) came to help...and it is not fair or logical for you to blame (other brother) because that simply is not how it happened" and let it go. It feels like "giving in" or "letting him win" but honestly it is just avoiding a fight that isn't necessary.

I am wondering if he doesn't need to discuss his restless sleep with his doctor..especially if he's on a sleep apnea machine and still flailing during his sleep. I would maybe ask him "what do you think would be a good compromise. I really do value my sleep and would like to get a good nights sleep and I would like to share a bed with you but when I sleep with you, I am fearful of being hit or awakened when you talk in your sleep. I'm not sure what kind of solution we can come up with, but I'm willing to listen to your suggestions. I respect that you want me to sleep with you, that you are uncomfortable being alone, but I need you to respect the issues it causes me and help me come up with a compromise." As for the dog issue, I wouldn't even fight with him about it. If you know it's not true...for me, I need to let him know that I know what he's saying isn't true...but I try and just let that be it for the subject instead of pressing him to admit he's lying or trying to prove my point to him WHY I know he's lying. He knows he's not being honest...he knows you know, once you tell him 'that story just doesn't make sense', and there really isn't anyway you can 'fix' this kind of thing without fixing the larger parts of the ADHD.

One thing is for sure...they can 'get on with life' as if nothing happened a lot easier than we can. I have learned to take advantage of this aspect of his ADHD instead of being pissed that he seems to want to just 'forget' all of the $h!t that occured the night before. 90% of the time much of the $h!t shouldn't have happened anyway, and wasn't productive, so letting it go is the best way to keep moving forward and focusing on TODAY and TOMORROW instead of the past. (just read this in Melissa's book today...and it really hit home for me). :-) I love the way she puts into words what I never have been able to.

it is sometimes an exhaustive game of picking your battles, walking away from stupid fights, and acceptance...especially with an untreated ADHDer. I hope the website here will help you as much as it has helped me. hang in there!

Sherri

wants to talk - again

I know things aren't perfect and they again seemed to get better - but lately my DH's mood has been so all over the place - I'm just gun shy and staying away from him as much as possible. He's snapping at me and our son. Will be all happy and pleasant one minute and I leave the room to do something and come back to crabby man. If I ask him what's wrong he says nothing or just walks out of the room. But when he's ready to talk about something I damn well better be too!

We did counseling for months and months and he just stopped. I mentioned the last time we had a real talk that I thought he needed to go back - by himself a few times and that I would come too once in a while, but that he really has something going on that isn't just about me. He's sleeping more than ever, taking huge naps during the day. I also told him I thought he needed to see the family doctor because this behavior isn't right. I think he may be in a depression but he denies anything is different - that it's just because he's not happy with our marriage. I'm not happy with the marriage either, but I'm not sleeping for hours on end and my behavior isn't like a spinning top.

Lately he has this new found hyper-focus and it's on us being intimate. He thinks that if we start being intimate again, our problems will be less.
How can I be intimate with someone who ignores me for months on end? When I feel no connection to a man I once know I truly loved - but no longer feel that way. How can I be intimate with someone who I feel like is a roommate and acts that way 95% of the time. I'm not capable of just throwing a switch and feeling close and loving. I also have tried to make him understand that the more he pushes and pushed me the worse it gets. We went to a two day marriage seminar this spring and the ONLY thing that he remembers is "Tuesday is coming" which was the speakers way of telling the wife's that intimacy in marriage is necessary and we "needed" to satisfy our husbands needs. It just bothers me because I used to try and try to me intimate and he would just ignore me. Know he's ready so I better just be too! I can't force it, I just can't - I've tried. I need to feel connected and loved not just because he "needs it."

I don't know how today's conversation is going to go - but if it doesn't go well, I think I'm going to ask for a separation. I cannot live like this anymore, I'm no longer the person I used to be and neither is he. The walking on eggshells around him. I'm shaking as I type this and he isn't even up and out of bed yet.

I've been married to my

I've been married to my ADD/PTSD husband for 22 years.  He was diagnosed only 4 years ago because I put my foot down.  But only then, he agreed to acknowledge the ADD b/c he was dealing with police related (dead bodies, autopsies, murdered children) PTSD that gave him hide-in-the-corner panic attacks.  I didn't realize then that ADD actually can make you more likely to get PTSD, but that's another story.  We have 3 children, the oldest just turned 18.  That poor child witnessed a lot when he was younger.  We married very young, I was 18, he was 21.  At the time, i was the center of his world.  This is what our lives would be like...attention, intense love, partnership!  But it went wrong pretty fast.  At first,  thought it was stress over him trying to find a job.  Then it was stress over his just starting his job.  Then it was stress over my going to college.  Then it was stress over having a new baby.  Then my college.  Then his adding new things at work.  Then my graduating and finding a job.  And so on, and so on....  It never seemed to end.  We had intense waves of extreme happiness and then volatile fights and sadness on my part over something he did.  He was just 'too busy' to put the rusty hammer on the floor, he had to set it on my brand new white sweater drying on the clothing rack.  He was just 'too busy' to tell me about the 46 charges he made to our checking account that month.  He just HAD to renew his library books on Thanksgiving while his parents showed up for dinner and I was cooking.  Up down up down.  Looking back, I can see how we looked on the outside.  The bit** wife and beaten down man.  It would take my screaming to get him to see what he did, or to see what needed to be done, and to do it.  Then he'd act all sorry and sweet.  No one saw the problems that were going on.  And I would just be going, why did you do that?  And we were so busy moving forward, that we didn't stop to say wait, we need to fix this.  I would get mad, we wouldn't speak for a week or so, he would suck up to me, then we would be happy, then it would happen again.  We even had another child in the mix, during a period of happiness.  Then, 9/11 happened.  And the decision to have a third child.  And his world at work changed and he became the 'dead body' guy, and believe me, where he works there's a lot of dead bodies.  And a desk job, which is like the worst thing for an ADD'r.  And the whiskey.  And more beer.  And more whiskey.  And more beer.  And whatever he could find.  That's when it all came to a head.  But, I had health problems due to the third child, pain, misery, surgeries.  And all of this mellowed me out.  That third son, mellowed me.  All of the pain, made me realize that I didnt' want to live this way anymore.  I found a fantastic friend who was a beacon for me.  We could discuss things (not everything, because I didn't want her to judge my husband) but we discussed how to change ourselves to handle our situation.  Over the years, she has been a blessing to me because she's helped me, and I her, to find our inner peace.  But it keeps going away.  And after one very dangerous night, I told my husband no more.  He would get help, he would get diagnosed or he could move in with him mother.  And he did.  (please don't say, like all the women around me, oh, but at least your husband got diagnosed!)  It's been 4 years of drugs and therapy, now he's on ADD medication, Depression medication, high blood pressure medication, drinks when he thinks I'm not looking and chugs when he has permission like when we're on vacation, and uses smokeless tobacco   at least 2 or 3 times a day.  He now KNOWS what he is doing, tells me he's sorry, this time will be different, and then DOES IT AGAIN.   Okay, sorry to drop all of this on you, but it's the background, now here's my point...I swear I have one.  :)

HE WILL NOT CHANGE.  He will not do ANYTHING he doesn't have to do.  I continue to participate in the circle of grief.  WHY?  I don't know.  I've stopped it before.  Once, I bought a book called Finding Happiness in Imperfect Harmony.  I cannot leave my husband.  My children adore him, the love their house and honestly, I can't trust my husband to be responsible with my kids when I'm not around.  I mean really, I go shopping for the day only to return to them all up at 11:00 pm JUST having dinner and he's so drunk he's slurring.  Fine, unless you have small kids.  One time I came home to find him in the hot tub, drunk, with my kids.  The youngest was 6.  So really, what do you think would happen if I left him with the kids for the weekend?  Every other weekend?  Whose house do you think the teenagers would have parties at?  No.  It's not for me, can't do it.  But I have warned him that I am giving him an opportunity to shape up, otherwise, when the youngest  graduates I'm gone.  So I read this book.  And it talks about my situation and people who stay married for the kids, whether it be financial or safety issues.  But it talks about finding yourself and taking care of yourself and distancing yourself from the situation.  Just what this thread is about.  And it was an Ahah! moment for me.  I felt free.  I felt happy.  I woke up happy.  I was fixing myself.  I was fixing my problems.  I wasn't fighting, I wasn't arguing, b/c there was no point.  I was taking responsibility for my part in the drama.  And I refused to participate.  And my husband DID NOT LIKE IT.  And he was going to therapy and he was trying.  And he asked me to go to therapy with him and I did and I told the truth to the therapist, which my husband did not do, and she was Ahah!  (because they had his PTSD under control and she didn't understand why he kept coming back...he wasn't telling her about the crap he pulled at home)  We talked about how he was codependant and how his parents mistreated him and how he needed to be responsible for himself and how he loved me and he was going to work on his stuff.  And I started to fall back in the trap.  The trap of trusting and loving again and letting myself go into our relationship.  And he slammed it all back in my face again.  And again.  And again.  And I never seemed to find that peace again.  I would look at the book and not pick it up.  Why do we do that?  Know there is an answer sitting right there and just walk past it.  And here I am, today, dealing with a child who graduated and is going to college, losing my job to outsourcing, and STILL dealing with a lying, sneaky, self destructive, manipulative ADD'r and my sadness and resentment and anger that causes me to spend all of my day thinking of what he has done to me.  What a waste of my time!!!!

My point is thank you.  Thank you for this thread.  Thank you for reminding me to 'fix myself'.  That I cannot change him and only he can change himself.  It's sad, isn't it?  I think all we want is a loving relationship with the man we married.   The man we thought we were getting.  But he doesn't exist.  And if I want to be happy, I need to make myself happy.  I cannot, under ANY circumstances, rely on him to do that for me.  He will NEVER act the way I want him to, and honestly, my happiness should not be dependent on whether he does or doesn't!  I am the keeper of my happiness, I am responsible for any arguments I get into and I my reaction to him is under my control!!  Thanks for letting me vent.  Sometimes just walking your thoughts through the process helps to find the answer/solution.  Good Luck to everyone.