First of all, I appreciate Melissa's words and experience, and all of the people on this site so much. All of you dealing with ADHD in your marriages, your advice and experiences are getting me through the days right now. I wish I could buy each of you a cup of coffee or something:-)
I am so mired in a morass of sadness and helplessness that at the moment, I don't know where I went. I would appreciate any ideas anyone out there has. May be random, and long, but here goes:
Hubby was diagnosed with ADHD by family doctor a few years ago, in early 40's. DH is currently ill and on leave at home. His condition is difficult for him and painful. We have been together 12 years and have 2 young school aged children. Family doc prescribed medication, but did not assert the need for any type of therapy or anything to go along with it. DH primarily used meds to work and to wake up in the morning (terrible sleep issues). DH is an artist and brilliant, successful in his field. He is charming and knows everyone. I don't think anyone who knows us would believe how horrible our home life has become. The ADHD makes it increasingly difficult for DH and I to be together and function happily. I am miserable. He is not very happy, either. He cannot take his ADHD medication right now because it interacts badly with other meds he must take for his current condition, so the situation has degenerated fast.
First issue: DH refuses counseling. Period. Everything from blatant honesty "I just can't take sitting there and dissecting everything over and over, it is like torture, like acid being poured all over me," to belittling it "I am my own best counselor, I am smarter than anyone else," to blame shifting "you are the one with the problem, you go to a counselor," to stonewalling, "counseling doesn't work, people don't change, you don't like me for who I am." I realize that this is partly just defensiveness and fear, but when I tell him that he may lose me and beg him to try it, and he won't, where am I supposed to go from there? We have been in this loop for a year or two now.
Second: The fighting and tension is out of control. I have become a negative, sad, nagging person who is perpetually tired and hurt. DH is defensive, very quick to anger, quick to yell. We just can't resolve these things. I am trying. DH is very bright, an extraordinary debater, and wears me down. He picks apart the words I say and dissects things until I am in tears with frustration. Frequently he somehow ends up being the victim and I am a terrible, angry person and that is the problem. Here is an example: He makes huge messes and then does not clean then up. Starts construction projects without talking to me about them first and then can't finish them. Moves heavy junk into a main pathway to the garage and then just leaves it there. 2 weeks ago, DH decided to paint the room he sleeps in and convert it into an art studio. Great. Except, he used a helper and moved every, single thing, which was a ton of accumulated junk, out into our main living area. Including his own bed! I walked in one day and it was everywhere. Piles of things. Baskets full of things, bags of clothes and heavy pieces of furniture. And it has all sat there for two weeks now. You can't even walk through our house, literally. It looks like a pigsty, like crazy people live here. I can't function with it like this. He won't let me just move all of it to the basement, isn't physically capable of finishing the renovation to the studio himself, his helper is out of town, and he is just stuck. Can we talk about this? Are you kidding? All I said was, "This stuff everywhere is affecting me. I need for us to make it a priority to finish whatever you are doing in that room so we can clear it out." He heard some frustration in my voice, it's true, and that became the issue! That I was always mad at him! But you know what? I was PISSED when I walked in and saw the mess, and I waited until I was pretty calm. Every single time I try to tell him, "I don't feel like you hear me, I don't feel like you acknowledge or respect my feelings about this, your decision affects me," there is a huge blowup. I told him once, "I could deal with anything, really, if you just spoke to me in a respectful, loving way, and if you just showed some empathy for my feelings," and you know what? He yelled, "I DO have empathy, I am NOT talking to you in a bad way. You are overly sensitive! I DID apologize!" To me, an apology that is yelled at someone is not helpful. I am at the end of my rope. I feel like if I committed every fiber of my being to not reacting to anything, to letting him do whatever he wanted, to being careful not to show any "negative" emotion or response, like walking on eggshells, I could live in peace, but I just can't do it.
I tried Melissa's book! I had him read it, which he did, all in one sitting, and he told me that many of the things in it did not apply to him, that my anger is the problem, and basically dismissed trying any of the things. I just can't keep doing this. I cannot imagine one, or ten, or thirty more years like this. I am a strong, smart person and I can't believe how trapped I feel or how unable I am to change this! And why do I keep trying the same things over and over, when each time, they end in the same awful argument and don't work? How do I go about accepting that this may just not work, and how do I stay strong and believe that I am doing my best, and it is not my fault?
Third: I am falling apart. I am in so much pain I feel like my chest actually hurts. My world is unraveling. I just don't get it. He is a smart guy. The consequence of not fixing this is going to be separating him from me and his children, maybe forever. I have calmly told him this. I cannot even fathom ending my marriage. I am loyal, committed, and I love him. And I feel like the world's worst person because he is sick and hurt and there is no one else around to help take care of him. His family will HATE me. My children will suffer. Our house is a nightmare, half finished in a renovation, and we don't have the money or ability to get it in shape to put it up for sale in what is the world's worst real estate market. And my heart will just be broken in two. I have never cried so much in my life. I am so exhausted, I feel like a shell and about a hundred years old. It takes all my energy to be "normal" at work and around other people, and to try to be sane around my lovely children, who are the greatest gift of my lives.
If there were an empty, free apartment next door and one of us could just quietly move into it so I could think, and remove some strife and conflict from my life for a while, I would be ecstatic. But there isn't. We have a small house. No family in the area. No money--he is on disability. He is home ALL THE TIME now that he is sick. My job entails me not working during the summer, and I am already very worried about the dynamic of this structure being removed from mine and my children's lives. I don't have a lot of free time and my home has turned from a respite to a place I dread being.
I appreciate everyone listening. I am sure many would say, "Why don't you just cut your losses and leave? Why would you put up with this?" And I don't mean to sound like I am not able to control my own life or that poor me, I don't have the power to change anything. I guess I just can't BELIEVE that two smart people can't do better than this. That I have to give up and walk away and this can't be resolved. I must be codependent to a point, always searching for him to validate me despite the repeated failures on my part to receive this validation.