There was something that happened over this past weekend with my family–my mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law–that has really put me at a standstill with my progress in our relationship. A point, just a few months ago to be exact, my brother had a breakdown of sorts, and he had to be checked into a psychiatric ward, in which the staff helped him find a better medication and better ways to deal with stress at work and home. I wasn’t there for that, because they are all two hours away, but my parents and I were in constant contact. It opened up or at least shed light on a possibility of what our relationship and methods of communication with each other would be; to be more open and honest and to start a dialogue, in the moment, despite how uncomfortable it felt, was the goal.
We promised it had to change. It did, for a very short and temporary time, but it made it easier to move on in a healthier way for all of us. Because I’d been in therapy both one-on-one with a counselor and in a new group therapy session for other women with ADHD, it was something that I was constantly aware of and obviously, to be that open made me much more vulnerable to any new and unexpected change. However, it did not prepare me for things to go back to what they were before; to be quiet and to be as contained and as private as possible (I say as waspy as possible) with everything again.
This bled over into what our wedding next year would mean. Before this recent revelation–same as it ever was–what we wanted to share with friends and family, in terms of who we were as people, what we meant to one another and what our new family would look like went back to a feeling of uncertainty. In our minds, a sense of pride and happiness was the ultimate outcome; this would influence our creation of this special event. I felt a little trepidation, sure, and a little gun-shy about the possibility of a conversation with them about my recent diagnosis with adult ADHD.
The fear was there, only I knew it had to be shared, as it ultimately could create a sense of togetherness moving forward with this whole process. What it meant to me personally, if they noticed any patterns during childhood, or ways we’ve communicated that made it pretty clear what I had, was something I actually looked forward to, despite how terrifying it felt. We talked about it in my group in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day weekend. How to prepare, the talking points, what to share, what to keep back and share later, and what the overall sentiment should be, kept the door open for this conversation.
The week of, in the days after group, there were a couple instances that completely slammed that door shut. And it was not because I was gun-shy about that particular subject. I saw so many possibilities arise for miscommunication, and saw moments of passive aggressive behavior about such insignificant details in travel plans, times, the methods of communication, inserted into what they HAD to do because of my disregard. The framing of all this was the reasoning, “because of your brother” and “well, your brother and ___” to excuse these little slights toward my character.
I realized again that the opportunity to be open about ADHD would not be received in such a way and it never happened. The weekend was okay, and I held back many times to just make it easier to get through the rest of the time I had there. It was nice and I could point out positive things, but when you have something in mind to happen and it’s so important, and you know it isn’t possible, it only makes you feel stunted.
Now, I can’t shake those hurt feelings; the fact a great opportunity was taken away (my decision and it was a good one) to just make things easier for everyone. That is our standard and it will change at some point, yet it does make you feel like the level of progress you thought you had made in yourself, the forward momentum and the slow building up of the self-esteem, isn’t as much as you thought it was…I am so controlled because I have to be, at certain times and with certain people. Only, why do I translate that into most other areas of my life?
My work interaction, my professional life, my writing, my Art, contained a hesitation to share completely who I am, what I’ve become, what my goals and dreams were and that was present enough that it made the decision to not share anything with my family so much easier. That was when it came to me and my life, though. When it came to my brother, the door opened a couple of years ago with his mental disorder diagnosis and stayed opened. Jealousy played a part, in that I felt I couldn’t be vulnerable or show a (perceived) weakness. I had to be in control and confirm who I was to them; their expectations of me remained intact.
What does this mean about my wedding? What do I mean as an adult to them? Can I change this in time to be able to talk about this openly at any point in the future before the stress levels kick into high gear and I just won’t be able to deal? My mom did settle in, at some point over the 24 hours I was up north, and requested for me to “tell her something good.” What that means needs to change…