Progress update

In my last post on here in February I was desperately unhappy. My husband had just been diagnosed with ADHD and I felt the future was bleak. He was put on adderall the day of the diagnosis and after a month on that I was on the brink of divorcing him. He became much more focused at work but very, VERY unpleasant at home when it was wearing off. He was just mean and nasty whereas he never really was before (just hapless and clueless but mostly good natured - a bit like an accident prone labrador puppy). He switched to Ritalin and things have been better. We did have to have a few conversations about how meds were not just for work, and that he needed to take them at the weekends too, because when he didn't things went back to how they were - jobs half-done, forgetting what people told him etc. But I don't think we're quite there with the meds. However, we're paying for a more thorough (3 hour) assessment from a more qualified doctor next month, so I'm hoping to see more improvements then. 

I was going through old documents the other day and found out from his birth records that my husband was delivered by forceps (it was the sixties), and rather forcefully so, as they noted a scar on his cheek from it in the birth notes. I did a bit more digging and it seems that research suggests birth trauma of the brain (such as forceps and vacuum delivery) may be linked to ADHD. I don't know why, but this actually made me more sympathetic to him, that it might not be his genes that caused it, but that someone may have done it to him. I know I ought to be equally sympathetic either way, because you can't help your genes, but I'm just being honest about my feelings. I think when you've been through so much negative stuff at the hands of someone else's chaos, being told ADHD is genetic didn't really change how I felt. It still felt like it's part of them, a problem I'd endured because of them and their "malfunctioning". Whereas a birth trauma makes it a problem caused by "other", and somehow that's easier to tolerate, even though it's still the same person doing the same stuff. I know that sounds irrational, but somehow it's easier to separate the condition from the person if you can see the condition as "not their fault." And I know I ought to view it as not their fault either way, genetic or not, but while I do logically view it equally as "not their fault", emotionally, there is a difference, and maybe that's something I have to work on - absolving him of blame for his condition regardless of what caused it. I don't really feel like I blame or resent him for his ADHD, but I know it's caused a large space to form between us as a result of his condition. 

I took advice from my last post regarding dropping my expectations of him and over the last two months I've stopped hoping he'd be able to do things like a normal adult. And to be honest, I grieved that. I grieved that I didn't get the partner I thought I had signed up for - a fully functioning adult. I've let a lot go in this relationship and I've been pushed to some dark places, but I never stay angry or resentful, but while it's easy to forgive, and I have - a long time ago, I can never really forget, because fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. To not remember and be wary, would be foolishness on my part at this point. I can't go back and pretend things didn't happen. I'm not cross, I don't blame him, and I don't hate him, but I can't not be "on guard" and I can't just "trust" him to do things on time or properly without some involvement from me (especially things that impact me and my daughter - I will not let him learn lessons at our expense any more). That's would be irresponsible given what I know and what has happened so far.

I feel my husband and I may have different views of his diagnosis. To me, a diagnosis doesn't give a blank slate and an excuse to erase and dismiss the past as "that was before... before we knew... before I was treated... before I was on meds.". The past chapter of my life has already been written, and I'm on the next one now, but the last one didn't get "unwritten". The storyline and pain didn't disappear with the magic words "you have ADHD". My story is continuous, from then to now, but I don't think my husband views life that way. Whether it's due to bad memory, or simply excusing the past as "that was before and things are fine now", he doesn't seem to live a continuous storyline. There are large gaps of things that he doesn't remember doing or saying, and everything is in the now. And I don't know whether that's something we can reconcile, because it's like trying to co-exist peacefully when people are living in alternate realities. There's inevitably going to be squabbles due to lack of understanding of my reasoning for things, reasoning which I have come to based on past events, and I don't know that I have the reserves to explain my (usually pretty sold and practical) reasoning for my decisions and actions every time he takes objection to them for the rest of my life. It's wearying.  And though I don't expect him to keep our lives on track anymore, and I just monitor and manage things to maintain a stable environment now, each disaster that has been the revolving door of dramas and disasters for the last 5 years has, though forgiven, caused space to form between us. I don't think he's a bad person, but I don't feel he's a man I can trust, and I say trust as in I trust him to safeguard our family and make the right, well-thought out, decisions to keep us from financial and emotional harm. And by not being able to trust him, I don't feel safe with him. I feel I must always be steering the boat and I can never hand off to a co-captain. And that, more than anything, is what may eventually cause my marriage to fail, because without trust in your partner to take the reigns if you can't, what do I have? Another dependent. And is that really how I want to live the rest of my life? In a state of perpetual responsibility? Even when I'm sick? Even when I'm exhausted? Can I do that? I don't know.

So, I wanted to say we've made some progress. He still works all the time, and is rarely far from his computer, especially in the mornings when I'm trying to get my 4 year old dressed and breakfast, and around bedtime, when I'm trying to get her to bed, but I'm trying not to let that bother me, and I only ask him to be involved if he cares to be, otherwise I just do it all myself. The meds have made a difference. He's starting to attend a support group once a month. Next year when we change to fancier insurance we'll look at counseling/coaching for him too. I've finally gotten our small family to a place of financial stability (we had to file personal bankruptcy last year and are filing a business one now to properly close the door on that chapter of our lives), he's more involved at the weekends and I've hired a sitter a few hours a week to help with my burn out, and my daughter starts daycare in July for a year, and then will start school. Everyone is up to date with doctor and dental things, and taxes were done early so as not to wipe out an entire weekend last minute. We're also trying to be creative about problem solving. Instead of me always having to ask him to do things, I wrote a "what can I do to help" list in huge font and stuck it to the wall. So he doesn't have to ask me anymore because he "can't remember". And instead of me getting annoyed that he didn't brush his hair before a shower (and coating the whole shower in hair, especially right after I spent 20 mins cleaning it) because he just "couldn't remember" despite me repetitively asking over and over, I made him agree to keep his hair cut short, and we hung a brush right on the shower, so he can't get into it without seeing it. All these things help, but will they be enough? Only time will tell. 

Our lives are getting better, and the horizon looks calmer with reduced child care duties on me, financial stability, and no more lawsuits or side ventures (husband has agreed to just focus on his job as he can see more clearly now that side projects are a bad idea for him). However, I don't know that this life is enough for me in the long term. I don't know that I can close the emotional distance between us or ever attain a level of trust and safety that's fulfilling for me. But I do know that as with shopping when you're hungry, making decisions when I'm burned out and depressed is also unwise. Thus, I know I need to give it more time, I need time to emotionally recover from the white-knuckle endurance ride that has been the last 5 years of my life. I need to regain my health and fitness, and I need to asses things further down the line when I have more of an idea of how much change can really be affected. So, for now, I'm hanging in there, and my knuckles are no longer white, which is something, I guess.