Friday, February 06, 2009

Confessions of "ADDGirl"

So...some people don't get this "personal" on their blogs and I always wonder where the line might be, but I've decided recently that I'm not going to censor myself this way...and besides there are only about 4 or 5 of you who read this on any regular basis, and we are all human, and I write this to be "me".. so if I reveal a real part of me....that's ok. I've been working on accepting that not everyone in the world will like me and that it is OK to not be liked by everyone and it is not necessary to feel anxiety of someone doesn't like me for any reason, be it a legitimate reason, or one they perceive that is just not true.

I, as a lot of people... have emotional baggage, I'm sure my baggage is just baggage to many, and to others it would be the kind of baggage, that makes you thankful for your own baggage. But... being a child who grew up with ADD and learning disabilities unknown to anyone, including themselves.. and being a kid who grew up in a family of drinkers, I have a LOT of emotional baggage.. like huge LUGGAGE that needs to be checked in to be carried around. Over the years I have been able to find peace in my life and work out some emotional stuff, to be able to downsize my emotional Baggage to just a few carry on pieces. But they are always still there, reminding me, making it hard to walk down the narrow aisles of life, smacking other passengers in the shoulder, and leaving me full of anxiety, upset, sadness, frustration, and much more wishing I could be a minimalist and just throw out the carry on bags and be done with it.

Anyway.. I tell you all of that to tell you this...The largest article in my carry on baggage is anxiety about most social situations & the relationships I have with people in my spouse, my children, my neighbors, acquaintances, extended family etc... I worry constantly about how people look at me ( opinions) how I behave in situations etc.. you know a basic need (addiction) for approval by people... to the point that lack of obvious signs of approval from people, makes me think they don't like me, I made them mad and that's why they don't call, so then I avoid them. fear of saying the wrong thing, not being "cool, nice, important, funny etc" enough to be their friend etc.

this has caused me to be a "people pleaser" all of my life, and led me to job in the caregiver field being a personal care worker for people with disabilities.

Anyway...It is something that drives me NUTS, and something I wish I could change in myself without taking anxiety drugs prescribed by a doctor, and without coping with alcohol as I did in my early 20's.

This whole thing, I've known for some time, stems from my basic relationship with my mother as a child. the person as a baby/child trusted the most, looked to for my needs to be met. The issue was that my mother was 16,and practically a baby herself emotionally with the MASSIVE check in luggage she started her adult life with, and therefore she was literally incapable of providing me with the solid foundations I needed to foster relationships and nurture them in a positive way in my life. AS a result of being an ADD child with learning disabilities I was no doubt a challenge to parent growing up. There was a lot of "emotional abuse" in my life growing up, and I've known for a long time that it colored the way I act, react, and come at the relationships in my life with people.

this could end up turning into a book, but I'll save that, and just touch the points as best I 30 years old and during the pregnancy of my second child my hidden ADD got bad.. to the point of putting me in mental inertia, and I felt like I was going in circles with one foot nailed to the floor. I was a complete mental wreck from the raging pregnancy hormones playing with my brain chemistry. So much so, I sought help from a counselor, who recommended me to an ADD Doctor because she thought that was the issue. I was diagnosed shortly after my son's birth in 2005. I started to read some books about ADD as much as I could to grasp as much as I could about it to try and make positive changes in my life, to learn to manage the ADD and not let it manage me. It was bad enough that is made my marriage have times of serious stress, and my husband and I fought and argued a lot....there were times when I could not take the stress and thought... a LOT that i should just leave the relationship, because it didn't matter what I did, I was just not able to make it work.

I'd been trying to tell my husband for the last 4 years or so since my diagnosis, that even given his very high level of patience for my daily mess ups, and slip ups, forgetfulness, disorganization, and ease with which I can create chaos that he didn't understand where I was coming from because he could not possibly understand what it is like to have ADD and personally live with being a flake so much.

I have terrible self esteem as it is, and I beat myself up emotionally as was done to me as a child every time I mess up. by the time he sees the mess up and starts getting upset at me( even when it is totally within reason that he SHOULD be upset about it) I've already been chastising myself about it, and that little chastiser in my brain suddenly gets defensive and snaps back at him because he is stepping on her was the best way I could describe it, because that it what happens when he expresses his disappointment and frustration sadness, or even anger at something my ADD is responsible for. ( this can occur a lot, because well...I mess up a lot, and we argue every time it does because I tell him, he needs to not complain so much, and he tells me I have no idea how much he holds back and doesn't say.)

So recently, with the kids being completely out of hand with the routines and hyperness and ADD qualities I seem to have passed onto them, I put some books on hold at the library to read about ADHD parenting. I figured a little reeducation on ideas for myself, as well as for things to do with the kids to make things less chaotic in the home would be a benefit to everyone.

I ordered a book that is brand new in the stores, and our library bought it and we were the first to put a hold on it and get it in. While I was reading Daredevils and DayDreamers, my husband started reading the new one, called "SuperParenting for ADD".

After he read the first chapter he had an epiphany, and we had what I think is a significant turning point in our relationship regarding my ADD, and if that is the ONLY thing that book was good for then it has done good by me...(but I have a feeling it will be even better as each page is read, for us as parents of kids with ADD)

so, he reads the first chapter and then once the kids were in bed, started a conversation with " so, when I get mad at you, and you feel like you're "getting in trouble" as you call it..tell me how you feel... tell me what you're thinking in those moments."

So I started to rhyme off some stuff, not getting deep about it.. and he kept asking me to think more....and I was getting annoyed...I just wanted to relax, not get all philosophical and deep. But he pressed gently/firmly and said he was curious and wanted to know, and didn't want to give me any leads. He wanted to hear from ME what I felt.... so I thought about it, and talked about it, and I told him that I don't feel like he loves me anymore when he gets upset with me, or is disappointed in me...I started to get emotional...damn I hate when he makes me cry cause he makes me go deep in the luggage to find crap. ( but at the same time I love him for it.. he is my biggest supporter, best friend, and one of the biggest reasons I've come this far emotionally).

So we started talking and I told him that I don't feel loved, and that I hate disappointing him, because I just want him to be happy all the time and never be disappointed in me, or upset, or sad or hurt by something I've done. I told him I can't handle when people are mad at me, and it bothers me deeply. Then he asked me "but don't you know that it is just you're behavior, or the consequences we endure due to your ADD moments that I'm not happy with and that I still love you no matter what?" to which I promptly started cry and told him, in fact no I don't know that he still loves me at all. One of the biggest things that always hurts me so much when he gets upset with me, is that he can seem to walk away from it to cool off and does cool off and then never touches on it again, and I am left there still full of anxiety and resentment and fear and sadness feeling totally unloved like a complete failure, because of just how much I often do mess up ( daily, hourly sometimes even...there are days I should have never gotten out of bed because my brain chemistry is just not gonna allow me to function in any decent way at all)

He was surprised and said he really didn't think of it that way, and that it just occurred to him as he read the book because it explained how kids with ADD treated negatively emotionally by their parents can often end up having that color the way they have relationships for the rest of their lives.

I was never jealous of it, but he is always very good at letting the kids know that he was disappointed in their behavior but that he still loves them no matter what etc, and would hug them, wink, or give a pat on the head, and they would go off smiling and happy again. He said that it had never even occurred to him that I never got that kind of treatment as a child, and even thought we've talked about it, he didn't think about the fact that perhaps I was never told the behavior was negative, but i w as still loved.

I confirmed, while crying my eyes out, that yes, that is the case, and that knowing after I burn his roastbeef for the millionth time in ten years, or forget something, or break something, that he still loves me, would go a long way in making me feel less of a failure, and help me know that he still loves me. (I did take the moment to point out too, that with my learning disability, if I can't learn to consistently and properly cook a roast in the 10 years we've been together, perhaps the beef dinners would be best left to him, and we'd all be happy. LOL :))

It's been a few days since that talk now, and he's been his ever patient self, we're working on being more open instead of getting defensive right away, and him listening... and he's been being more attentive in the way I need him to be attentive.. not with flowers and crap, but with changing the way he approaches the way he guides me when we cook together, and being sure that he lets me know that he loves me...lovey and even sexy text messages in the midst of being upset with me, is helping me know that he is not taking away his love just because I messed up yet again and he has no clean socks to wear out of the house and I forgot to vacuum the living room floor AGAIN today like I said I was trying to get to, etc etc.

in a way it sucks that I have to mother the ADD child in me that never got the foundation she needed to be a better emotional functioning adult.... and it sucks that my husband is in essence paying the emotional debt left by others in my love bank, but we're getting there... and hopefully in time to be the kind of supportive positive mother my children need with their ADD in order to give them a fighting chance at managing their ADD traits in adulthood better.

Last night we cooked a dinner together and managed to get through it without arguing and actually smiling and enjoying ourselves by the time it got to the table, rather then me feeling upset, and misunderstood, and resentful and defensive walking away to try and gather myself again. It was nice. the food was really good. the best roast beef I've had in a Long time ( because I didn't cook it... LOL)... and I want it to continue.

anyway.. I'm off to bed, cause this took me over an hour to write out with the interruptions and it's late and hubby's patiently (?) waiting for me to finish this.

So there ya have it.... confessions of "ADDgirl" as my hubby fondly calls me ( and I actually don't mind)


Julia said...

Hi Ril,
Thank you for sharing something so personal.
Reading your blogs help me to understand me (and my kids.)
Keep on being the wonderful person you are!

The Four Week Vegan said...

That was really honest and so brave of you. I am so excited for you and your dh and your whole family, it really sounds like you are turning a corner together. Here is to smaller carry-ons in your future.

David said...

Wow! I enjoyed reading this and getting to know you better. It is amazing what we can suffer through and still function. You are very strong with a deep well of love just waiting to express itself.