He's wonderful, but my oh my.
Only one of these has been hard for me to learn about and adapt to, and it’s really, really not the one you’d expect.
Yeah, that’s right. Turns out I had no issue with my boyfriend having another serious girlfriend. Sharing his heart and bed with another woman and my first foray into a threesome was a cakewalk compared to his ADD.
I’m a naturally focused person. I’m introverted and introspective. I can sit on a long flight and just stare out of the window without getting bored. I don’t mind periods of time where I have nothing to do, not just because they’re rare, but because the opportunity to just sit and be is something I really savor.
That’s not the case for Buddy. When we first started dating, my occasional lapses of silence were something I found myself explaining a lot in case they made him uneasy.
“I’m not mad or unhappy,” I would say, “I just don’t have words to say right now and that’s okay.”
When we go to the theater, I call him The Movie Sheriff. It’s not an inventive title, but it’s apt.
Because of his ADD, if someone in a theater does something like whip out their phone with its bright screen or start whispering to a friend, he can’t deal. The screens are a distraction, so is the talking. They keep him from hearing what’s going on and processing it.
Because he has always been this way, he has no problem going up and asking these people to be quiet. If someone takes it personally, he has no problem dealing with the confrontation, but it usually doesn’t.
Because I hate confrontation, I slink in my seat when he lifts his hand to block a phone screen or stands up to ask someone to stop talking. But I’ll be real, I’m always relieved when he does because I’m secretly very passionate about manners.
Buddy’s ADD was also at the heart of our first real fight.
I was away with friends and fell off a bike, badly hitting my head. I texted him to let him know I was going to urgent care, and to presumably get some sympathy. He responded to my text with “ha ha ha.”
That I did not dump him immediately is a thing of miracles.
See, if you or I get a text and we have a million other things going on, we prioritize them. We address each issue one at a time until everything is handled.
Buddy can’t do that. When I texted him, he was dealing with a crisis at home, fielding texts from other people, and he was reading my texts, but he wasn’t understanding them.
It took me snapping at him later to make him realize anything happened at all.
If he’s reading his phone while we’re togethe, there is no guarantee he’ll hear what I’m saying. He’s not being a cliché, he’s got ADD and his mind is constantly whirling from one item of action to another, trying to get all the necessary information he needs to get and struggling all the while. Some things slip through the cracks.
It isn’t personal. It’s taken me a little bit of time to understand that.
“Buddy, how long should I wait until I call someone about the WiFi?” He nods. I don’t get mad or frustrated. I don’t feel like I’m being ignored. He’s reading something, something I wrote, actually. He’s doing the best he can.
“Buddy, I asked you a question.”
When I say stuff like this, his head whips up. He hates making people he loves feel neglected.
I don’t have a great temper. I’m working on it, but I get easily frustrated, easily irked. But that doesn’t usually happen when I’m with Buddy, even if I have to tell him the same thing three or four times in a row. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule.
While out for dinner recently, I waxed rhapsodic about the leftover pizza we were going to take home. I had big plans for that pizza. Breakfast pizza plans. I am not exaggerating when I say I talked about it for roughly twenty minutes.
After dinner we left the restaurant, giddy and happy to be together. Because he’s a gentleman, he carried the pizza. Because he’s a gentleman with ADD, he also promptly gave said pizza away to a man on the street asking for food.
Thoughtful of him? Sure — IF YOU ARE THE PERSON HE GAVE THE PIZZA TO AND NOT THE GIRLFRIEND WHOSE MONOLOGUE ABOUT LEFTOVER PIZZA FOR BREAKFAST HE HAD FAILED TO RETAINED.
On trains and traveling he reminds me so much of a fidgety kid. He would rather stand, he feels more at ease keeping his body in motion. His eyes constantly scan taking in new information around him. It’s a nice distraction, something to keep him preoccupied. I love when he looms over me on a subway train, smiling down at me contentedly.
Because he’s a bit older than I am, he didn’t grow up in a time where kids were as readily diagnosed with ADD, nor were prescriptions to treat it an option for him. As such he’s learned a set of skills to help him cope. He forgets things, common things like names. But he also forgets things like the thing he told you before he left the room to go pee that he comes back to tell you all over again. I know this because I experience it with him, sure, but I always know it because it’s one of the first things he tells new people.
I go through so much of life caught in my own little bubble. But being with him makes me more conscious of everything going on around me. When you spend a lot of time with someone with ADD you begin to feel a sense of awe at everything they achieve in the face of so much distraction.
I love Buddy for a lot of reasons, but one of them because he is without guile. His brain works a little bit differently from the way mine does, from the way other people’s do, and he knows it. He’s honest to a fault, apologetic and ready to talk to anyone who might want to know about his ADD and the ways it has impacted his life.
And strangely, all of that has made him into the person I love. Even if sometimes he gives my pizza away to strangers.