Its been 5 years of marriage and the past 2 years of sweeping "issues" under the rug have left me with a pile of dirt under a smelly rug....hmmm
Anyone relate? Anyone coping? How... How do I cope with a marriage I have no idea how to cope with?
It was a quick courtship, quick engagement, dream like wedding and honeymoon and on our 1st year anniversary....me 5 months pregnant and a web of unresolved issues, it dawned on me that I did not have the marriage or life I had dreamed of. Something was wrong. My husband had briefly, casually, almost as a joke, mentioned he had been diagnosed with ADD and a slew of other things when he was 12 years old. But what active boy isn't diagnosed with ADD? So what? I didn't even consider it. 3 years in, me pregnant with our 2nd, a mountain of still unresolved merry-go-round issues, a circumstance happened that could have cost our 2 year old his life....caused by beloved Husband. That night, after a heated confrontation, me on the verge of loosing it, we slept in different beds. Something was deeply wrong. I couldn't brush this one off as "lazy husband..." or "he is so irresponsible...avoiding responsibility..." . I KNEW my husband would not intentionally put our child in danger. Where as so many of the other negligence I assumed was him intentionally ignoring things because he didn't want to do them, this was different. This one put me on my knees....God! What is going on! Answer me or I die...kind of prayer. The wake up call came at 3:30am on the dot. I woke from a dead sleep and heard in my heart: "It's ADD...I'm giving you a Spirit of Understanding."
Now, you may brush this off...please...God? Think what you will. We are all in our own place on the road of the journey of this life. And on my journey....God is proven thru years of proofs like this one...though it's been really rough and I feel lost in a wilderness. Yet, there are still miraculous answers to prayer...when I do pray... I'm holding a thread of hope... and the connection to God seems weak on my end.
For weeks before this "wake up call" I had been specifically praying for a Spirit of Understanding. At 3:30am, I pondered over these words: Its ADD. I was baffled. I started to research, listen, read...I didn't go back to sleep. And then, I wept....I cried hard. I suddenly realized that when husband said, "I can't help it...I get distracted...I'm scatterbrained... I'm exhausted trying to focus..." he was actually telling the TRUTH!!! He wasn't lazy! He wasn't irresponsible. He truly had a chemical imbalance that caused his brain to see it ALL at once, and have no sticky note board in his mind like i do. Yeah, I had been a TOTAL jerk! I felt horrible. I felt enlightened, I felt grief because this was real. I felt strength because God was in this with me. I was not alone. But things needed to change.
Shortly after this wake up call, I sat down with my husband and deeply apologized for my behavior and expressed what I had realized. We both cried. He felt understood for the first time. But he was hesitant to own ADD as a medical thing that needed attention. "It is who I am...I'm just different. It's my character" he told me. I didn't push the issue. But I began learning what I could amidst raising and birthing children. I stopped believing the worst. Stopped expecting. Stopped nagging. Stopped questioning. I had my answer. But this didn't take away the ADD symptoms affecting our relationship. I began just letting them slide under that metaphorical RUG. The benefit of that has been it's been a mostly peaceful past 2 years. The fighting has lessened. But the truth is that the pile is huge and the RUG stinks and there IS fruit of the dysfunctional dynamics of our marriage.
2 weeks ago, he shut down so dramatically that the scab of the wound of abandonment I feel in our relationship was ripped open and too great for me to ignore or bear. It crushed me in one day. Nothing was said about it....nothing was done. Life with 2 littles went on...I've learned that bringing up such issues does not resolve them but creates a jumbled mess of accusation and blame that merry-go-rounds into confusion and distress. Too much energy is wasted when I have so little of it. But now I'm back here on this forum. I've reached out for marital counseling specializing in ADHD, I've began reading again Melissa Orlov's book The ADHD Effect on Marriage and I've signed my husband up for a conference (still not sure how effective that one is going to be...he probably won't go. Expectation is low. Conference was free). I can't keep going on in this flow...a dried up brook that has no end. I've totally lost myself and have so little hope or joy left. I'm just an empty shell of what I was.
My husband's way of coping with his ADD since childhood was to simply switch off, as I call it. He abandons all responsibility, chills, gets alone in a forest or something, sits in quiet isolation and stares off into nothing and lets all the duty balls fall to the ground. Works when you're a single dude working a low expectation job and only rent to pay. Doesn't work so much when you are married and have 2 small boys with a leadership job and family who depends on you. He still hasn't figured out how to transition. I feel for him. But while he lays in bed sorting thru the anxiety he feels and watches videos and obsess over yet another hobby, I get to do ALL the dirty work.... food preparation and clean up, face wiping, butt wiping, discipline, clean up of splattered food all over dining room, training of children, dishes, lunch prep, play time, nap time, meal planning, bill paying, house cleaning, dinner prep, dinner clean up, did i mention clean up? shopping, appointments, basically everything besides working a paying job. He works hard and I tell him regularly how much I appreciate his hard work and why it means so much. But there's a slew of other work in life that, well, "he just can't handle"....so...he doesn't. Because that's how he copes. And I'm about spent. Friends ask, "will you have more kids?" How do I tell them the dynamics in our marriage that make me dread the thought of adding another child. It's a lonely, lonely place. I want to preserve my husband's dignity and respect to everyone we know. So who do I talk with? No one knows. There is one couple we've counseled with and knows this story. But even them, I believe doubts the reality of these symptoms and doesn't really know what they mean anyhow.
When I do lay tasks at husband's feet to handle, they are not done, or mishandled, or just all together neglected because "he can't handle it".I hate saying it but I do not depend on him at all whatsoever. He's totally un-reliable. And that's a horrible feeling for a wife to have. I feel like a single mom oftentimes. And the lack of closeness with us is injuring us beyond words. He grieves the distance and disunity probably more than me. My cope strategy tends towards avoid and pull up your britches and 'git er done'. Not good for closeness. But I don't know what else to do. One thing I do know...I can't do this for another 40 years.
Hoping....reaching....hoping he will go to this free conference for himself.... and find something he needed...hoping to find a good counselor to help....hoping for change....hoping he'll listen to me read Orlov's book so we can learn....hoping against hope..."God, who gives LIFE to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who contrary to hope, in hope believed" (Romans 4:17, 18) Now, there's hope.
I don't know that I have any questions for any readers who got this far... Mostly, I think this blog post was for me, just to vent the pile of dirt under the RUG because I'm so crushed, and have no where or no one to turn to and feel so trapped. And maybe, perhaps, another one of this lovely community will be able to read this and relate and cry and know you too are not alone. That in itself is a great comfort isn't it? I know it has been a life-line for me. Blessed be the...God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)