Adults, you are not alone
It is not surprising that children with learning difficulties, including those with a difficult temperament, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and other associated disorders are at greater risk of growing up with low self-esteem, inadequate communication skills, a high level of frustration and greater interpersonal vulnerability.
The presenting issue may be addiction, a failing marriage or the inability to achieve at work. The difficult temperamental issues experienced as a child, more often than not, continue into adulthood. Many scenarios such as interpersonal conflict, impulsive behaviour, volatile verbal outbursts, the inability to communicate and lack of organisation can present as relationship issues.
A closer examination of the deep-seated feelings of the adult may reveal chronic symptoms, often reported as having been present since childhood.
The inability to set priorities, a sense of being left out of social processes, distractibility that causes chaos and disorganisation, poor peer relationships, trouble keeping diary appointments and shame coupled with low self esteem, have often been part of the adult since early childhood.
Areas such as alcohol and drug abuse, violence, poor relationship skills, poor parenting skills, depression, anxiety and work-related difficulties are still not fully appreciated by many helping professions. A sensitive investigation of these feelings will usually reveal an adult who has a continual vague sense of failure, and a keen sense of not having achieved to potential. The adult may well be quite intelligent but the frustration of communication and organisation can become so difficult it is easier to give up.
Counsellors at the Pastoral Counselling Institute have experienced this type of issue behaviour and are willing to assist you.
Or How to survive with “Addy”
Living with undiagnosed AD/HD can cause extreme distress in family life. If the issue has not been recognised, diagnosed or treated a relationship can be under strain right from the very beginning.
Often a difficulty is getting a spouse to admit that there COULD be something “different” about them. Most people with difficult temperament and associated disorders have become very defended. They have learnt to cope with life on their terms, and because their self-esteem is so low, often from continual failure or put downs, they lack the ability to admit that help is needed.
It is often only when a child begins to “act out” that the spouse is forced to look at “history repeating itself”.
A household where difficulties of temperament or other learning disabilities is often very chaotic, very loud, and always in a hurry if “Addy” is hyperactive.
If “Addy” is a dreamer, then chaos can still result from lack of organisation within the busy family or conversely the family is always late or simply missing because nothing is organised ahead of time.
Distractibility can cause confusion and lead to the conclusion that “Addy” is totally irresponsible and does not care.
Even strong relationships can be tested to the limit.
Patterns may begin to emerge. The spouse (particularly the female) may start to bend the truth a little in order to avoid a temperamental outburst from “Addy”. When asked if the gas bill has been paid, she may answer yes, even if it hasn’t because it is easier to go down tomorrow or ring up and pay it, than to face “Addy’s” temperamental outburst about her thoughtlessness.
Later on children can be drawn into this arrangement in order to keep the peace.
And so begins the cycle of exclusion which has a very detrimental effect on “Addy”.
Couples facing these types of issues, will best survive in strong committed relationships.
Locked-In Behaviour from “Addy”, particularly a hyperactive “Addy” becomes a tedious difficult temperament to deal with. The following is a typical story.
Driving in the country on a pleasant sunny day, husband (“Addy”) suddenly lets go with a loud outburst of rage directed towards the “idiot driver in front”. Comments are made about the other driver’s intelligence level and total lack of driving skill. This leads on to what should be done about such drivers right through to government policy on roads and what caused the Second World War!
The tirade is delivered with occasional unsavoury words thrown in. Others in the car feel like a tornado has just swept them off their feet and can feel an anxious fear creeping over them in response to his violent outburst.
Within a few kilometers “Addy”, with his frustration out of his system, comments on the lovely view and how peaceful it is to drive in the country. He has no idea that others in the car are now anxious and frightened. He has moved to another emotional space.
Living with difficult temperament issues is not easy. It takes hard work to survive.
When both “Addy” and spouse agree that “something must be done” then together they can start to build a trust between them that will allow the spouse to help with the difficult temperament.
One of the best phrases encountered came from a spouse who asked, “I want to know how to live with compassion rather than criticism”.