Don’t Leave Me Lonely

The need for human touch has been proven over and over again, to be a much-needed necessity of life. In this article from Living Social, they talk of how simple, affectionate, and compassionate touch, can improve everything from how an infant grows, to boosting our immune system, to how our heart functions. Our bodies and minds cannot exist in a vacuum.  As simple as it may seem, that pat on the back or that simple handshake with a friend that you haven’t seen in many years, carries much more to it then a simple, “Hey, how have you been?” A 1988 article from the New York Times says this:

In some of the most dramatic new findings, premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone in their incubators – the usual practice in the past. The massaged infants also showed signs that the nervous system was maturing more rapidly: they became more active than the other babies and more responsive to such things as a face or a rattle.

Okay, so we know touch is a necessity. So what do we do when we are upset with someone and we want to avoid a confrontation? We ignore them, right?  At least until we can calm down then talk to them reasonably. With the frustrations that comes along in dealing with someone who has ADHD, the frustration can mount, tempers flare, and sometimes avoidance becomes a necessity to avoid a fight. That being said, with avoidance comes distance, distance that is both physical and emotional. The ups and downs can be dramatic for both people involved.

Speaking for myself, these ups and downs have come at a heavy price.  Not only do I feel as though I’m not always getting what I need, but I have developed a sense of anxiety that never seems to go away completely.  I am always wondering if I did enough, did I do it right, if I didn’t do it right or if I didn’t do enough, does that mean that I will be kept at arm’s length until I get things right?  How do I know if I did something right if he won’t talk to me? And, when I’m back to being sort-of-normal, how do we go back to regular living after one of these long episodes?   There is a double whammy here: we have had so many of these ups and downs that my mind now associates being back on track with getting affection. It is much more difficult for me to go back to that ‘normal’ way of living then it is for him. Somewhere in my mind’s eye, sex and intimacy have now become a reward for being productive and on the ball, but try as I might, it is very difficult to not think that way. Some instances are worse than others, as is the case with any type of problem, I guess. Sometimes his avoidance behavior can last as little as a few days but it has been as long as a month. The longer the time frame, the higher the stress level and the greater the anxiety.  With my husband working as a carpenter, the particular job he’s on at the time may be a difficult one in which case his stress level and anxiety is high as well. This makes our relationship very tense as we try to work through multiple issues. If the boys have stuff going on with school or scouts, well, that just adds another stick to the fire.

A common denominator in my worldly conflicts is my husband’ s abundant sense of sarcasm. He often tells me that I am the only one who doesn’t understand it.  I don’t think that’s the case every time. He uses his sarcasm as a tool to portray emotions he happens to be feeling at a given time. When used in a humorous fashion, even the kids understand it. But for me, when he is upset or frustrated, that sarcasm has a deadly edge that has left me emotionally bleeding.  Sometimes he catches me unawares, making a comment out of the blue. A comment that I am totally unprepared for and totally not expecting, as he did just this last Easter afternoon. These comments are the proverbial double-edged sword, especially when said in front of other people. Emotionally, they set me back so far, wondering what I had done after such a lovely day, to warrant such a remark.

Now, in his defense, he deals with a lot. He has been our sole provider since before the kids were born. This was a joint decision on both our parts so that I could stay home with the boys while they were growing. The boys are now ages 8 and 11 years old.  In today’s economy, just being the sole provider would be enough to stress anyone out. For the entire 21 years of his career, all of his work has come in the form of referrals from previous customers or as a subcontractor on one of his friend’s jobs. The majority of the time he gets customers that are much like those that referred him in the first place but, on occasion, we get a doozy that stresses him out a bit. Throw in my ADHD issues and the boys misbehaving, and he’s pretty much had enough for one day, never mind if the job has any kind of longevity to it. This brings me back around to the keeping-me-at-arms-length, part of the story. From his point of view, after a days work and chaos at home, he feels better keeping his distance from me in every sense of the word, rather than risking a potentially nasty confrontation. Even the simple kiss on the cheek on his way to work is avoided. I’m not sure that this is the best way to handle things. Yes, it does avoid confrontation, but it avoids everything else too. Part of this whole package is that when there is a confrontation, it usually isn’t about anything new. The same issues, the same complaints, and then me trying to defend myself. Every once in a while, a new angle is presented, a new perspective, if you will. One of us is able to make our feelings better understood by creating a scenario that better describes how we feel at a given moment. I see these little moments as very small milestones in our attempts to communicate how we feel. They don’t always get us very far but being able to see things from a new angle, with a fresh view, can sometimes lead us down another road that may have some potential. I do understand, immensely, the frustration that he feels.  What I don’t understand is how he can keep me so far away on the emotional level.

I live just over 2 hours from my nearest relative. I elected to pick up and move to Connecticut so that he did not have to start his business from scratch in another state. By doing this, it has made it difficult for me to just get in the car and go see my family when I’m feeling distress. There is an intense sense of isolation when we’ve argued and I have no family to talk to about it. I could call but it’s not the same as having a real person. He is my rock, my go-to person, he is part of my soul and a large part of my heart. Not being able to go to him when I have trouble is very difficult, indeed. There is an abundance of safety and security in his embrace.  There is reassurance, trust, and hope, in his heartfelt kisses. When all of that becomes unavailable, I start to wonder when, and if, it will come again at all. I lay awake at night, listening to him softly sleep and I think of how much of my world is wrapped up in what he created with his own two hands. He has told me on more than one occasion that he doesn’t think I care for the house or his efforts in building it because I am unwilling to keep it neat and organized. Flashback: early 2002, we have just found out that we’re going to have a baby. He says to me, “I want to build a house for you and the baby.” Oh the joys of that day! I knew these weren’t just words or wishful thinking.  I knew even then that he had the talent to do it, and he did, in between trips to Rhode Island and his regular work [see: To Much, Too Soon, coming later].  Little did I think that 10 years later, I would be accused of not caring about the blood, sweat, and tears that went into building this house. If it was only so simple as making a choice [see: Just Do It, coming soon]. ADHD isn’t about whether or not you have a choice.  It is often complicated by having too many choices. Even just an hour’s worth of time can be broken down into so many smaller increments, and if you don’t know where to begin, where to end, or the process to get there, the majority of us with this problem do nothing because we would rather do nothing, then to do it wrong, again. If he should decide my ADHD issues are too much to handle anymore, I have the potential to lose everything because of a deficiency that I was born with, a problem that I didn’t create, and one that I am not sure I will ever be able to control. I have told him on at least a few occasions, that I would rather he just yell at me and get it over with, then hold me, hug me tight, and help me feel better. As human beings, a simple touch can often portray those emotions that are difficult or scary to speak out loud. Yet even though they don’t make a sound, they speak loud and clear, the messages that they convey. There is a song called When You Say Nothing at All by Allison Krauss, that gives this same message. Here are the lyrics….

It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart

Without saying a word you can light up the dark

Try as I may I could never explain

What I hear when you don’t say a thing

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me

There’s a truth in your eyes sayin’ you’ll never leave me

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall

You say it best when you say nothing at all

All day long I can hear people talking out loud

But when you hold me near you drown out the crowd  

Old Mr. Webster could never define

What’s being said between your heart and mine

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me

There’s a truth in your eyes sayin’ you’ll never leave me

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall

You say it best when you say nothing at all

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me

There’s a truth in your eyes sayin’ you’ll never leave me

The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall

You say it best when you say nothing at all

Songwriters SCHLITZ, DON / OVERSTREET, PAUL

Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing

When all is said and done, we need to find some happy medium where we each get what we need. He gets frustrated when I don’t get stuff done, I get frustrated when I feel as though I have been left by the wayside. Down deep inside all that churning emotion, is a solution of sorts, something that will work for us both.  How long will it take to find it? I don’t know. Will I ever find it? Don’t know that either.  What I do know is this: this man is my everything. On my worst of days, I think back to those simple moments that could be lost if we don’t find a working compromise. I think of those moments like when out of the blue, he will walk up to me and hug me. Not just any hug mind you, but a living, breathing, heartwarming hug that speaks volumes of security, safety, and above all, love and trust. This particular kind of hug is very different from the hey-honey-I’m-leaving-for-work-see-you-later kind of hug. This is one of those hugs where the house could fall down around us and we would still be standing there. Everyone needs one of those hugs every now and then from a special someone.  It’s spiritually uplifting, rejuvenating, calming, and helps to restore peace of mind.  Most of all it says, “I’m here for you regardless of what is going on, regardless of our differences.”  So, if you don’t know what to say, say nothing at all, let your heart and soul do the speaking for you.