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It’s Just Chicken Soup, Man.

It's Just Chicken Soup

As the non-ADD partner, I will take on way more than I should, and way more than is healthy for me. I do need to learn to ask for what I want more often, but with an ADD partner, I’ve become afraid to ask for things. It will often blow-up in my face—huge blow-ups. The question is usually not heard as I asked and is taken as a major criticism. Being careful with my word choices doesn’t seem to matter, and something so small can get so big. For example, as our toddler and I are adding veggies to our homemade soup, when it was supposed to be my husband’s turn to make dinner, I ask, “Would you please add the chicken?” He didn’t appear to be doing anything so I didn’t think it was a big deal. He hears something along the lines of ‘you never do anything around here.’ He gives me an angry toned list of all he does and is offended I should even ask for such a thing. In my head, I think, ‘It’s just chicken, man. And oh crap here we go.’

The other day, I felt like I lost my cool with a co-worker. It was a similar feeling to when my husband has an outburst. I had reacted, and it shocked me a little. I was also embarrassed that I behaved that way. It made me realized how natural it had become for me to react instead of pause, think, and act appropriately to the situation. This was not who I want to be. How did I get here?

Recently, someone recommended a Ted Talk with Dr. Joe Dispenza about the brain. What I got out of it was, the more I react to my ADD partner’s outburst,  the more I train my brain to react to those outbursts. So this was becoming a pattern for my brain.

Also, the more I react to my ADD husband’s outbursts, the more I feed the dopamine rush in his brain and encourage the outbursts. I want fewer outbursts, so, I need to train my brain not to react to outbursts anymore. We won’t fight and he won’t get the dopamine rush. Similar concept with kids and positive-negative reinforcement. The child wants attention so the child acts up. The parent gives attention to bad behavior, therefore, the child continues to act up to get the parent’s attention.

So, what happened with that chicken soup? I didn’t react. I smiled, shrugged it off, and said ok. He looked a little shocked as I went my way. Was I pissed he wouldn’t help? Yeah, a bit.  Was I trying to encourage family togetherness? Yes. Did we have an argument? No, which is great, because I think it’s ridiculous to argue over adding chicken to the soup.

Later, he told me he was sorry he overreacted and that he was about to write out a list. I know getting a list down is not easy for him.

Perhaps this seems like such a silly thing, but with my ADD partner, this type of thing could easily happen a dozen times a day. For now, not reacting to an outburst seems to be working well. It’s not always easy, but I hope with practice it will make a difference for our relationship.


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