My husband’s cousin recently killed himself. The sadness we feel is colored by intense anger at my husband’s mother, who never communicated what was going on with the cousin - or that he had moved to a city we visit frequently. Could "forgetting" to mention or misrepresenting major family information/news be a byproduct of ADHD? Yes, there's more inside...
posted by mitschlag to Human Relations (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I live far away from our families and home states, a choice we made for financial and career reasons. MIL has never fully, in her heart, accepted this.
His younger cousin recently committed suicide. They had been very close in childhood, but had not seen each other in several years. It’s just … there are no words for how awful something like this is. It was devastating to learn that the cousin lived relatively nearby for the past four years, without my husband realizing it. The deceased had suffered many slings and arrows in recent years – financial and legal difficulty that drove him to a state of utter despair. We could have told him he wasn't alone, given him money, helped him out – things we have routinely done for our friends near and far who we have known for fewer years- but we didn’t do any of this because we didn’t know he was in trouble, let alone nearby. I cannot tell you how angry, and helpless we feel about this.
MIL knew some of what was going on in his life but never said anything, and despite the fact we’d been in the same town as the cousin several times in the last couple of years, she never mentioned it. We don't think the deceased was aware we were nearby, either.
MIL has a track record of not telling us crucial things, or telling us news at the last minute in an insensitive, mindbending way. Bottom line, we find out someone is in trouble long after the fact, when we could have provided support - and instead we look like heels who don't give a shit. I always thought it was a consequence of her not accepting that he married a non-local, that we were "out of state, out of mind" - but this is different.
Recently, she called and told my husband that his uncle had died – and almost as an afterthought, that the death happened a week ago, that he’d been fighting cancer for months, and had moved back to his hometown (from overseas) to battle it. My husband never got to say goodbye; he would have flown up to see him, if he’d known. No one, including his sister, said a thing to him about his uncle until the man was dead. Nothing.
We hosted a big party with out of state guests; my FIL (divorced from MIL) asks me if I’m inviting two of my husband’s relatives who live in our state. My jaw drops. No, we didn’t even know they lived nearby! For years we'd struggled with our homesickness, only to find out at this late date that we had relatives within driving distance.
My husband doesn’t feel like it’s worth even arguing with his mother about this because he thinks she’ll just blow it off, forget all about it, keep repeating the pattern.
He feels pretty isolated and misunderstood by his family, and this sense of isolation and people not communicating with one another has really compounded the grief he feels about his cousin. I mean, yes, we are so upset that he would do this, when he had so much to live for - but we just feel... gobsmacked that he was suffering so close by us.
Her insensitivity has complicated our feelings about the infertility we've been experiencing, too, a different kind of loss. And we're very transparent about it with almost everyone, not in a "poor me", but matter of factly. It's been complicated by MIL's thought processes, which, despite our being upfront about our attempts to replicate, have moved from "When am I going to be a grandmother" to "I'm not even going to visit you two until I become a grandmother," to “She's infertile? I thought she didn’t want to have any children!”
My husband has not been diagnosed formally with ADHD, but we think he, MIL, and SIL all have it. MIL and SIL seem to be more the hyperactive or mixed kind – my husband more the inattentive. MIL has been married four times; SIL’s father has ADHD and is divorced from his fifth marriage. MIL is incredibly impatient, and a horrible listener. She has a kind heart and despite all this, we both care about her a lot.
I try to maintain ties with the people I care about. Cards, emails, phone calls, visits and long drives. I encourage my husband to do the same, and our relationship with the other side of his family has deepened in the last decade. On the other hand, MIL seems to mischaracterize our lives to our other relatives, but because she’s his mother, people mistakenly think she’s the “source” to get news about him. When my husband sees family members from her side, he usually has to correct them about what’s "really going on”.
She is not a pearl-clutcher who would hide dirty laundry for the sake of the family - she's impatient and opinionated, the type of person who loudly announces to a stranger that they're an asshole for taking her parking space.
Is lack of communication about family crises/insensitivity something that happens with ADHD sometimes? What can we do, with her, or with his family? Does ADHD cause people to isolate or compartmentalize themselves or their relationships? Is it worth him trying to confront her about this, is there something he should say or do?