Tag ADHD

Baseline

“But if there’s one single thing that has made the difference between partners who have hope and partners who are struggling, it’s this: we – the ones with ADHD – have to own it. We have to say to ourselves and our partners: “Some of the things I do don’t work for us. They don’t work for the family, for my job, for me. I want to change them.”

That’s it. That’s the baseline. There are many different ways to go from there: couples counseling, education about ADHD, medication, support groups, and forgiveness and growth. There’s no one-size-fits-all “next step,” but if we can’t at least do this – if we can’t at least say “something has to change” – there’s nowhere we can go.

ADDA – We All Want to Be Heard

“Ley”

Zeddig remembered the courtyard of the Hanged Man the night she and Ley broke up – no, “broke up” wasn’t the right terms – the night their six months’ war grew too hot. Dreamdust addicts sprawled on couches, mewling in their stupor as dreams and bass pulsed from the dance hall upstairs. She reached for Ley’s arm, but Ley always could slide away when she wanted. “She didn’t leave us to die.” Just me. And not to die: just to live my life without her. “She just left.”

Ruin of Angels, Max Gladstone

The Illusion of Perfection

“To escape the uncomfortable barrage of complaints leveled against them, women like Rhonda learn to protect themselves by hiding (Solden, 2005). They avoid addressing painful mistakes by deflecting attention away from themselves. They cover their tracks with a smile, but behind the scenes they are working frantically to uphold an illusion of perfection. Women with ADHD are resourceful and creative; more often than not, they find a way to covertly triumph over their latest SNAFU. Buoyed by their success, they expand their camouflage to conceal not only their executive function weaknesses, but their true personalities.”

The Distracted Couple, Edited by Larry Maucieri, PhD and Jon Carlson, PsyD, EdD

Illegitimate Suffering

When I consider the personal losses I’ve experienced over the past decade, and in particular, my most recent experience, I am left to wonder why these experiences have entered my life, and why I find myself increasingly isolated after each one.

Given the majority of these experiences involved some form of mental disorder, this provides some assurance that all is not “random.” Yet, these experiences leave deep scars that will never truly heal.

What’s perhaps more unfortunate is the feedback shared by friends and family. In their desire to move past the visible suffering, they are inadvertently negating the experience all-together:

“Bad things happen to good people.”
“Now you’re free to have someone else enter your life.”
“There is a reason why this happened to you.”

(And any derivation thereof)

These comments, in particular, are reduced versions of their originals; the longer versions, ironically, drive an even greater wedge between giver and receiver. In my personal experience, I’m frequently left confused, conflicted, and angry. I don’t feel heard, and worse, my feelings appear illegitimate.

Ultimately, these comments reflect a lack of courage to lament.

Taking the necessary time for deep introspection, counseling, or other forward-moving actions is a necessary, albeit eventual, component of grief. All too often, I have found that people omit these valuable exercises with the intent of “getting on with life.” And, unsurprisingly, they wish others to do the same.

Ironically, persons with ADHD are unfortunately programmed for this type of behavior. By its very nature, they are able to quickly “forgive and forget” which only worsens the pain on the inflicted (partner) and, unfortunately, leaves them in an increasingly vulnerable position over time. Not everyone heals as quickly.

Those who have not experienced mental illness first-hand are unable to comprehend the severity of the disorder. All too often, relationships involving partners with BPD, NPD, or ADHD, exhibit behaviors that are clearly visible within the relationship arena, but are invisible in normal, daily “life” interactions. The result of this disconnect should be obvious.

Through no choice of my own, there is the benefit in transforming what would otherwise be a positive and supportive relationship to an academic exercise.

The “illegitimate” dimension of suffering is initially manifested through the seemingly detached guidance just shared. It’s only when this suffering extends into inaction, and potentially subsequent unhealthy relationships, that it becomes self-inflicted.

And this is what requires my greatest level of attention.

 

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 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