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Hey there Kevin…
I’m so sorry to here about your break up. 3 days ago my girlfriend of 2 1/2 years broke up with me. Reading through your post was like reading my own story–Financial instability, Mother/Son dynamic, Over promising and lack of follow through! The thing I heard the most was that I was using her and I made her feel insignificant. She’s completely exhausted and depressed. She says she has become a person that she HATES…and that she is enabling me to be completely irresponsible. You know what? She’s right…and I’m completely devastated. I love this woman more than any woman I’ve ever met–EVER!! But…here I am and here she is…sitting on a heap of rubble that was once a potentially beautiful relationship–both of us heartbroken, swimming in pain and regret.
While I know that my ADHD has played an astronomical role in my behaviors and the demise of our relationship, I also know that it takes two people to destroy a relationship. Don’t think that you are singularly culpable for the break up…she’s not a victim, she played a role, too. I’m guessing that she left because she’s exhausted, maybe depressed, and probably just as lost as you are. My girlfriend and I had a long conversation about her “taking a step back so I could take a step forward”. 2 months ago I moved out and got my own place…we were hoping that the space would give us the ability to both calm down and work on our relationship, together. She started seeing a counselor this Spring…I said I would too. But in classic ADHD style I waited 4 months to call someone.
Look, I am 47 years old. I have been engaged 3 times, married once (and divorced) and now this. I have never had a successful, healthy relationship. Why? Well…there are a lot of reasons why, but ADHD is a HUGE player. That is precisely why I returned to therapy a month ago…I think I probably saw the hand writing on the wall. We had an increase in fighting, she was becoming withdrawn and virtually complacent. We were both aware that there were significant issues in our relationship but we loved each other and kept trying–well…at least she did. I didn’t prioritize anything the way I should have and that caused serious problems. In her mind, “How can a 47 year old man not do simple things like remember to pay the car insurance, call me if he’s going to be late, or know what day his kid’s soccer game is on?” Thats a legitimate question!! You and I know the answer–ADHD! But that doesn’t take the hurt and frustration away. When I tried to talk to her about my ADHD she told me to stop using it as a “crutch”.
I believe (and if anyone wants to correct me…please do!) that as individuals with ADHD we have to work that much harder to gain some control over the symptomology that negatively effects the ones we love. We have to accept the responsibility for our actions (and inactions!). We have to be aware of what we are doing…then DO something about it! Yep! Way easier said than done. Again, that is why I’m back in therapy. I HAVE to learn to be a better partner…I HAVE to or I will continue to go through life like a bulldozer hurting the ones I love.
When I was a Freshman in college…a looooong time ago, LOL!!!…I was involved in a prank that caused significant damage to a dorm lobby and put the lives of many students at risk. I was expelled from school. I was sitting in an office talking to the woman who was essentially my academic advisor (I was in a program for students with LD…I’m also Dyslexic) and she was PISSED!!! She told me that I would NEVER have a successful career or a successful relationship until I accepted who I was and dealt with it; until I effectively managed my symptoms. Well…then I was pissed. I decided that I would show her! Eventually I went to a different school, graduated in the top 4 in my class and moved on to grad school with scholarships. BUT…I ended up divorced. Can you say HYPERFOCUS!?
Today…same thing. I’m very successful in my career. I bust my butt at work, putting in 50-60 hrs a week..and I LOVE it! But guess who doesn’t…my kids, my girlfriend, her kids. Again…hyperfocus! This is exactly why why she has said so many times that she feels insignificant–I was never home, I never called and buried myself in my work. When I put myself in her shoes…I totally get why she would feel like that. However, you and I and everyone else who has ADHD understands that is not the case. She was (and still is) significant….VERY significant!! But I allowed my symptoms to run my life, I continually hurt her by being unreliable and scattered, now I just lost the greatest person in my life since the birth of my children. We are hard people to life with my friend…very, very hard people to life with. Now I remember back to my freshman year in college, sitting in that lady’s office getting berated and all I can think is, “Damn it!!! she was RIGHT!”
So…I feel your pain. It sounds like you are a bit younger than me. So please…PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do yourself a favor and get into some kind of therapy–with a therapist who specializes in ADHD. Don’t end up like me…47, divorced with 3 kids I barely see, and a string of broken relationships in my past. I was diagnosed over 30 years ago and I didn’t take my ADHD very seriously. I thought it was really just an issue when it came to my academic pursuits. But now–after this last break up–I know that this thing effects every single aspect of my entire life and unless I do something I will continue to be heartbroken and to break hearts. Find a therapist and start developing some strategies that will give you a fighting chance to enjoy a relationship with someone–and give that someone a fighting chance to enjoy YOU!
I’m not going to say that everything will be ok or that there are “other fish in the sea” You’re in pain…embrace it, feel it and know it–then move through it. Don’t let the heartbreak define you…because its not who or what you are! You are you! Get a therapist, man!! Btw…I’ve been working with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and I love it. Check it out! Best of luck to you!