Guest Blogs

“Bless the Daydreamers”

One adult with ADHD describes the impact her daydreams and fantasies have on her marriage and the troubled relationship with her husband.

We are far into spring, but winter refuses to exit. I wake to darkness and chilly weather in the low 40s. I go through the motions of another day robotically. Lay out clothes, make sandwich, trudge to office, go through the grind of work and study. Hey, that’s life.

Lately the little joys that I once had have popped, fizzled, and fallen by the wayside: the early morning swims, the banter with my friends at the pool, and an academic program that seems to have little promise for the future.

The fights have been escalating with the husband, and the crack that started between us has evolved into a chasm. We used to walk down the sidewalk with our arms around each other’s waists. We used to sit on the same side of the table. We used to swap smiley face emoticons. It’s those little things that matter, and I mourn their loss.

And I can’t help but wonder if–once again–I’ve lost something significant in my life because of my ADHD. What does being wired differently have to do with love gone wrong?

Well, firstly, the husband cannot understand why I have all of these amazing ideas about our future, which make little sense to him. During times of stress, I fantasize about the house, the yard, the garden, and the children. I share these dreams with the husband, because to me they are not only fantasies, they are goals. They are my hopes for building a life together. Why should I not aspire? The very mention of them ignites the roll of the eyes, the long sigh, and a look of absolute exasperation.

“We can’t even get along apart, do you really think we are going to have a house together?” the husband asks. The rose-colored dream disappears. He shakes his head. “Enough of all of this talk. I know you’re a dreamer but it’s like you live in this fantasy. Why can’t you live in the present?”

He has a point. Sometimes I am are so caught up in fears, anxieties and assumptions about the future that I sit in the present and stew, or let my thoughts get lost in my ADHD imagination. Well heck, it’s better than killing time mindlessly clicking through Facebook.

Still, my fantasy is a reality that others are living. I know because I can scroll through photos on Facebook of friends celebrating their 10th anniversaries–married couples who have a home and pet and a child. Is there some unwritten rule that says those of us not living a dream can’t have a dream?

The last time the husband shot down one of my fantasies, we ate in silence, a dark cloud hovering over what could have been a fun evening. I was in a white hot rage that I could not express to the husband for fear I’d once again get my heart and hopes smashed. All throughout my childhood–and much of my adulthood–I’ve been apologizing for who I am. Why should I say, sorry for dreaming or even daydreaming?

I’ve wondered at times if the husband is just a jerk, if I am a fool for staying with him, or if it may truly be that our personalities are like oil and water (alas an emulsifier would bring us together). I’ve wondered if it is mostly my ADHD daydreaming rearing its ugly head. It gets exhausting.

A few good friends have said that a man who loves a woman would accept her as she is. “Did he not know this before you were married?” they ask. I’ve told him about the ADHD and about my little quirks, but pre-marriage he never said a thing. Now come the consistent sighs and eye rolling. “I’m just frustrated and convinced now we have very different personalities, and are incompatible,” he has said. “Let’s just talk less. A lot less.”

But there is something beautiful and almost innocent about my creative ADHD mind that I’m not ready to apologize for or give up. On a recent afternoon, I surfed on the web and came across a mini-essay called, “The Cost of Daydreaming” by the writer Vivian Gornick. I couldn’t help but relate!

Gornick realizes she is living in more in her imagination than in her real life, and tries to stop daydreaming. “Days passed, then weeks and months in which I dreaded waking into my own troubled head.” In the end she lets go and enters her imaginary world once again. “Time quickened, the air glowed, the colors of the day grew vivid,” she writes. I shed a tear for my neurotypical peers–and maybe the husband–who could never understand the beauty of an unbounded daydream.