Life After Loss: ADHD Analysis in Widowhood
When my husband, who was 28 years old, suddenly died, I asked myself and everyone who listened, “How am I supposed to live without him?”
It wasn’t a romantic or a dramatic question, but a practical one. I was really perplexed. How could I exist without the person who balanced me for almost half my life? I was shocked.
During a grief counseling session, my therapist asked if I had ever been told or suspected that I had ADHD. The answer to both was no – at least not seriously. Nobody had ever linked me directly to ADHD, probably because of my age and gender. It wasn’t a common diagnosis in my day.
However, I have often been referred to as a daydreamer, lazy, sloppy, and disorganized. I was diagnosed with a reading comprehension problem. I have also been admonished for most of my life for my lack of focus and concentration and verbally abused with “You are not listening” and “Be careful what you are doing”. Even my late husband sometimes thought that if I “just paid attention” I could do A, B or C – or X, Y and Z not.
I believed and internalized what others told me. My self-hatred drowned out the soft inner voice that told me I was doing my best. Later in life, when I became embarrassed or frustrated about losing my keys for the umpteenth time, or completely disorganizing the dresser drawers I had put up days ago, or skipping the trail of conversations, I used ADHD as a punch line to cover mine Pain.
[Self-Test: ADHD Symptoms in Women]
Then, at the age of 58, almost six months after my husband’s death, I was examined by a psychologist specializing in ADHD. My therapist’s suspicions were confirmed. I had ADHD.
The diagnosis brought relief as I began to understand and understand my life. I was able to connect the dots and get a clearer picture of who I was and how I might show up in my sudden widowhood. I found more reasons to love my late husband when I realized he was carrying everything for me that my ADHD couldn’t. It was basically my Ritalin.
I’m not proud to admit this (especially the feminist in me), but my late husband took care of the many things I didn’t understand, especially finances. I tried to follow him when he talked about this bill, IRA, loan, or guarantee. If they were short conversations, I kept up. If they lasted too long, I turned it off. Sometimes he mistook my lack of attention for apathy.
After Peter died and I was left alone with all of this, I thought about all the things I should have. I should have concentrated more. I should have asked more questions. I should have made notes. I should have stayed with the discussions until I got it. Now that I have learned more about who I am without him, I shed that regret with a new insight into the limitations I have borne over the years.
[Get This Download: What Every Thorough ADHD Diagnosis Includes]
With the ADHD diagnosis came the attempt to understand what Peter’s abrupt and permanent departure from my life meant. I had to ask myself many challenging questions: How could I live without his balance? How do I get to the places I allowed Peter to hide from? What, if anything, could I accomplish on my own? Where do I start managing the things he’s done, the things that overwhelmed me? And would I, could I ever learn to be completely independent?
I’ve been on this trip for a while. I am aware of my life with the diagnosis of ADHD and that I no longer have a Peter to help me navigate. I keep laughing with “Oh, my ADHD” when I feel uncomfortable or humiliated (although I can find humor in some situations).
I struggle with the big picture of life, including the smallest pixels. But I know that I am like any other person with ADHD who is going through life on their own when that person suddenly disappears.
For almost two years without my person, I am still asking myself honest, difficult questions – and only just beginning to find answers.
Life After Losing: The Next Steps
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Updated July 12, 2021