Category Psychology

The Betrayal of ADHD

“When we’re first betrayed by someone we relied on to love and protect us, we may be frightened by our own rage. Years or even decades later, we may be frightened of letting go of that anger. We may resist moving forward because we are not yet ready to detach from our suffering.” – Harriet Lerner

In May of 2017, my relationship of two years began disintegrating. Less than two months later, the additional misunderstanding resulted in a total relationship collapse, leaving me bewildered and incredibly hurt. The confusion, anger, and anxiety that resulted are feelings that I would not wish on anyone.

Since that time, through exhaustive research I’ve learned that relationships where ADHD is present start off incredibly strong with considerable potential (due primarily to a condition known as “hyperfocus”), only to end up, if left unchecked, in a state of confusion and resentment. It’s a unique and terrible contrast.

All relationships incur minor “ruptures,” but if the damage is genuiely addressed, these ruptures eventually heal themselves. However, when ADHD is involved, the damage is consistent, yet the repair mechanisms are few and far between. Words are rarely if ever, followed by necessary action.

This lack of attention, both in the true meaning of the phrase, and as it relates to relationship “repair,” results in the inability for the non-ADHD partner to place trust in his/her partner, and to the relationship as a whole. When disorganization and impulsivity are added to the mix, trust erodes further and eventually becomes impossible to rebuild.

What is ultimately left, at least for me, is a deep feeling of betrayal. Lack of repair and attention to address the problems at hand resulted in an unfortunate tipping point. Ghosting was a surprising, and painful add-on.

I started this post with Harriet Lerner’s quote because I am only starting to recognize why I feel the way I do. Feelings of anger and resentment cannot be harbored forever. It’s exhausting, incredibly unproductive, and emotionally blocking.

“[People] rely on this emotion to preserve the very dignity and integrity of the self. Anger is not a “bad” or “negative” emotion. It can take great courage to acknowledge and express anger. But it requires just as much courage to free oneself from the corrosive effects of living too long with anger and bitterness—a challenge that may include forgiveness but does not require it.” – Harrier Lerner

It has taken me a long time to identify these feelings and begin to come to terms with what happened, both during the relationship and its unfortunate and painful end.

I have no plans to forgive, but I am ready to begin closing this chapter to allow someone better into my life.

Attention III – Tactics to Strategy

While the previously shared tactics helped improve my raw productivity score, the approach wasn’t airtight.

For example, the use of Evernote helped me distinguish writing from communicating, but was I using Evernote too heavily now? Was the reduction in email traffic somehow giving the perception that I was disengaged? Am I focusing too much on productivity?

As with any shift in approach, there are pros and cons. Focusing too heavily on productivity did pose the potential that I would become further disconnected from the day-to-day reality of the agency. And perhaps I was spending too much time writing, and not spending enough time in other essential creative and technical pursuits.

These were indeed liabilities, but they didn’t reflect my primary concerns. The shift from communicating to writing (read: transactional emails to critical thinking) was a primary tactic. Tactics typically build from a core strategy, and I was absent one.

What does a productivity strategy really mean? Am I interested in further improving my productivity, or is there something else?

One answer came in the form of a best-selling book entitled Rapt – Attention and the Focused Life by Winfred Gallagher.

The book addresses the topic of attention, and how “your life – who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love – is the sum of what you focus on.

My focus on productivity is to do more with less. Given the diverse subjects that interest me, and the work required to learn and “realize” the material, transforming what would otherwise be “routine” work into a continuous stream of “high density” engagements is a critical and necessary shift.

If I can refine my focus even further, both in terms of subject-matter and the actual practice, I believe I can accomplish far more than what I’ve accomplished to date and in areas that would have otherwise been left unturned.

Attention I – The Risks

The young can get away with IM-ing while playing a computer game or the like, but there’s a risk: if you grow up assuming that you can pay attention to several things at once, you may not realize that the way in which you process such information is superficial at best. When you’re finally forced to confront intellectually demanding situations in high school or college, you may find that you’ve traded depth of knowledge for breadth and stunted your capacity for serious thought.

Along with the costs to strong learning and deep thinking, hours spent in the thrall of alluring machines exact a toll from your attention to human beings. At the very least, time online is subtracted from real-world interactions, such as conversation, sharing a meal, or even having sex.

Rapt, Attention and the Focused Life – Winifred Gallagher

The Fuse.

“[…] trying to make creative people fit some mold established as conventional wisdom or best practice may not always yield the best results. Lay the groundwork, but put the onus on the creative person to do what they do best—problem solve. Light the fuse and get away.”

Greg Hoy

Alone Together I: MDS Robot “Nexi”

One of the books that I am reading now is called “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” by Sherry Turkle.  The book is divided into two parts – the first focusing on the relationship dynamic between robots and people and the second on recent developments such as Facebook, Twitter and the like.

Over the past several years, I’ve realized (particularly in the workplace) that more and more people are turning towards technology and less to each other.  I am reading this book because I am just a victim to this unfortunate trend and I am at a point where I can’t afford to stay the course any longer.

This fact doesn’t lessen my interest in the subject as there is a great deal of psychology embedded within this topic that warrants understanding.

I’ll share more thoughts about this book as I progress further.  In the meantime, here is a video of a robot (not from this text) that exemplifies the lure of a robot as a potential replacement or stand-in for another human being:

[youtube width=440 height=278 style=”text-align:right”]aQS2zxmrrrA[/youtube]

The Red Tide.