2018, October

Being Married to ADHD

Thomas and I met in 2009 and the most attractive things about him were his handsome charm and the depth of his emotions. To hear him share freely about his passions was so captivating. The man wholeheartedly loved his children, his customers, his friends, a random store clerk and any person who crossed his path. As a woman with my history, it was a gift to be included in his heart space, even if just platonically.

Over time, our friendship blossomed into a full-fledged romantic couple, complete with highs and lows. The intensity of the highs was unlike anything I had ever experienced … and I liked it! Unfortunately, in a universe of polarity, the lows were just as dramatic … and it sucked! It never really occurred to me that something might be going on “behind the scenes” until a few years into our relationship Thomas shared about his ADHD diagnosis from before having met me.

Like most folks, I visualized a little boy who couldn’t sit still or pay attention. That didn’t fit the man I knew, so I turned to the Internet and books. In 2012, I learned what I learned and it helped some. Getting Thomas reunited with his Adderall prescription became the first order of business (not knowing all there was to know about this drug). His experience was that it helped to slow down the thoughts in his brain, yet neither of us saw that it was also exaggerating his anger.

It didn’t reduce our intense fighting, though, which was the toughest part about being in relationship with him. I was training as a relationship coach and learning tools for us to use when in conflict. He agreed the practices could be useful, but when conflict came around, they all went out the window. In those years, I was a dirty, fiercely angry fighter who didn’t see there was a problem with my “authentic self-expression.” Based on Thomas’ past, the last thing this man would do was allow yet another woman to defeat him. Naturally, as a survivor, he would do what had to be done to win the fight.

After coach training, the topic of divine feminine energy came on to my radar. This is where I discovered how misaligned I was, as a woman, when I behaved like a distorted, angry man. New tools kept me grounded in my divine feminine space that allowed Thomas to stay longer in his divine masculine. Unfortunately, life stressors continued to get in the way of our flow and I forgot many of the things I loved about my man. To avoid triggering either of us into a negative state, I learned the art of walking on eggshells and biting my tongue. Obviously, these behaviors were connection killers.

Early in 2018, I was introduced to the work of Dr. William Dodson, who has specialized in adults with ADHD since 1994. He discovered that current textbook description of the symptoms – inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness – fails to capture the essence of this type of nervous system. Instead, there are three defining features of ADHD that explain every aspect of the condition:

  1.  an interest-based nervous system
  2. emotional hyperarousal
  3. rejection sensitivity

Those nuggets of information, and all that is contained within, opened a whole new world for us. (So that I don’t have to try to explain all of this myself, this article does it best.) Being part of the 90% of humans who are considered neurotypical and assume everyone’s brain functions the same, I was neglecting the other 10%, who have an ADHD nervous system. I was guilty of trying to “fix” my husband’s brain so it would function like mine.

With a new perspective to view my husband from, so much has shifted! I was able to comprehend why he did what he did, rather than just telling myself, “His brain is different and needs corrected.” Finally, I am able to combine my relationship tools with my divine feminine practices and effectively engage with this man! Certainly, I have not mastered it, yet we come out of the deep valleys so much quicker. Unfortunately, his intense emotional reactions still activate my emotional pain body and it has now become a signal for me to move toward self-healing.

Being part of a society that supports disposable relationships, I still find myself being drawn to the dark divorce conversation despite knowing I’m in survival mode. Thankfully, we’ve worked so hard to create a deep root system in our couple, I eventually return to the light and full knowing of who we are authentically for each other. Our love is true and real, and together we are extraordinary.