Revelations

Telling a "loved one" about the diagnosis of adult attention deficit disorder, at last.
ADHD & the City |
Jane D.

I finally let the cat out of the bag, and for the first time told a guy I am dating about the ADHD. I was forced to and now feel coerced into it. He and I have fought like a cat and dog, and it has been this way since the beginning. He is physically and emotionally needy. I have my warts too. Despite being smart, funny, and hot, as he puts it, I lack the skills of listening to his needs. In typical ADHD fashion, I can be abrupt and impulsive, and I finish people’s sentences. Unlike other men, he takes the straight shooter tactic and says it to my face. “You really need to be more patient, you are pretty poor at it.”

“How would you like it if I got together with you, picked up my bags, and said, ‘it was nice to get together but I need to go now.’” He doesn’t seem to understand that I am not able to juggle a job search, all of these part-time jobs, swimming, training for swimming, and also dating a person as demanding as himself. The guy’s schedule is pretty packed, too, with one social event after another.

To me he lacks heart and common sense. He invited at least two dozen people to a dinner last Friday so they could all meet me. “They won’t even believe that I am exclusively dating somebody,” he says. I was forced to sit, smile, and be pleasant in a fancy four-star restaurant as he sat with his friends and mostly talked with them. I felt like a new toy or a pet, a possession rather than an equal. Despite his financial generosity, I feel like he would be very demanding in the end. The yellow alert is turning red.

Last night, the fight centered out of the fact that I gave him brownies and he didn’t want them, because he’s losing weight. Instead of being polite about it, he says, “That is the wrong gift for me because I am trying to lose weight. If I give someone a gift I need to know what they want, and it needs to be appropriate.”

The fight moved on to the greater issue of how he feels when I part. “You leave on your own time, you don’t even wait for others to finish, you just say, ‘okay thanks, got to go,’” he criticized. “You need to get better at goodbyes, you really need to stop being so stressed out, and impatient,” he says.

I agree with him but it is near midnight when he says these things, and the entire night I’ve told him that I needed to wake up at 6 a.m. to swim. He seemed to disregard the fact that I needed sleep, and that I was already tired and stressed. “It takes a long time for people to change, and I don’t try to change you,” I said. “Nobody is perfect and you need to give others some room to grow,” I said.

I remembered the passage in The Holy Bible from 1 Corinthians, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…”

The guy is a self-professed Christian and is the leader of a “growth group.” All of his Bible-banging now felt hypocritical. In self-defense and also in the struggle to communicate I asked him how he’d feel if I said, “Lose weight, you’re too fat, you eat too much, you need to lose weight.” He turned away and walked away, speechless and hurt and saying, “Wow, wow, I can not accept people who are mean-spirited. You really hurt me, I’m a sensitive guy…” He demanded an apology, in which I did give but the frustration of having to communicate with someone so “sensitive” is not part of my ability.

“How do you know that my impatience is no different than being overweight?” I asked, tears coming to me. “How do you know that this is not a similar struggle and no less severe? How do you know I don’t have ADHD or general anxiety?”

“I didn’t say you had ADD,” he hissed, and that’s when I let it out. “Well I do, ask my father, I do and I take medication for it,” I said. I always imagined that if I let the cat out of the bag I would exhale and feel free, only I felt worse. I felt like I gave the guy more leverage now to have control over me.

I started to cry, real tears, and he seemed to not understand why. “It’s not the worst of things,” he said. “I don’t think any less of you.” “No matter how hard I try, it doesn’t work,” I said. “I’m in this alone.” Earlier I had asked him for help on prioritizing my life, and he agreed but in the same way that one agrees to do something for a relative. Sometimes you just do it, like it or not.

He’s right in that it somehow doesn’t feel like dating, but more like a competitive tennis match, a power struggle, and ultimately we both feel sorry for each other. He hailed a cab for me but added in the line that, “What you did really hurt me tonight, and I’m sorry that you are so impatient and abrupt. I have many choices on who I can date, I’m not desperate.” For someone who studies the Bible, it did not feel genuine at all, it felt like it was coming out of both of the the pagans, and I felt disturbed rather than freed.

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