FWIW, I also wanted to add that, although I've never been formally diagnosed, I'm pretty sure I have ADHD. So I am in no way judging anyone with ADD/ADHD or any other disorder. I think it can be a useful tool in helping to understand, and to support growth and change, but my discussion of it is not meant to be disparaging.
About 6 months ago, I was discussing some childhood memories with my IC, and she mentioned that I had "low frustration tolerance." This new phrase piqued my interest, and upon searching for it, I found a lot of info on ADHD. I started reading up on how it is diagnosed in children, and I noticed that a lot of the anecdotes/behaviors applied to me.
I've since taken a couple of self-diagnosing quizzes, and have scored fairly high. I then took a deep dive into the topic, and in learning about it in children, but also how it affects adults, I really opened my eyes to things I hadn't thought about before.
I'm not interested in focusing on getting a formal diagnosis, as I don't want medication. I would rather work on my individual behaviors. But I do find it incredibly interesting that we both had similar issues, but just chose to cope with them in such different ways. What particular mix of genetics and circumstances led him to become a sex addict, and led me to marrying one?
Interestingly, I went through a period in my early 20s (before I had ever even considered ADHD) when I really started recognizing where my behaviors were not serving me, and I made conscious efforts to change and grow. I felt like a very different person - in fact, a better, more well-adjusted person than I ever had been - when I met my XH.
I've had many conversations with my IC about how I feel that part of what attracted me to my XH was that I felt a certain kinship with him. I felt like we struggled with similar issues. Not only that, but when it came to certain topics, our minds seemed to work in similar ways. We just understood each other. I also felt like I was in the best place in my life at that time, so I thought to myself, well, if this is the kind of person that I am attracting when I am feeling healthy, and alive, and happy and very clear about what I want out of life etc., well then this must be the kind of person that I'm meant to be with. I felt like maybe, this person would understand me better than anyone else could.
I also often felt like, though we both had our issues including FOO, low self esteem, etc., that I was the one who was further along in the healing process. I had done a lot towards self discovery. To feel comfortable in my own skin. To value myself. To not automatically assume that the world is out to get me. To allow myself to be wrong sometimes, to make mistakes and learn from them. To recognize that what other people think or say about me says a lot more about them and what they are going through than it says about me.
So I kind of felt like his guide, taking him by the hand, trying to show him that he didn't have to feel this shitty, that there is another, better, more fulfilling way to view the world and to live your life. Sometimes he would take my hand and gladly and enthusiastically move in that direction with me. But other times he just couldn't handle it and would retreat.
I knew how he was feeling, because I had felt it too. I thought that it bonded us. I think, actually I know, that at times he felt that as well. But other times it scared him shitless.
I told IC at our last session, that I felt like I had made it through to "the other side" of acceptance and self love, and I was trying to get him to see the light. I visualize it like a house. I was inside, all safe and comfortable. I could still look through the windows and see the storm raging outside - all of the FOO stuff, the crazy up and down emotions, the shitty coping mechanisms etc. - but I had taken my time to gain the tools so that I could build myself this house to protect myself from all of that. And he felt trapped on the outside looking in, the storm still raging around him, and he's looking through the window, jealous of me sitting on the couch with a blanket and a nice cup of hot cocoa. Watching me be all emotionally healthy and working on personal growth, and instead of doing whatever he could to find a way into the house, he was jealous of the people inside it, and telling himself he could never get in. Even though all he needed to do was get the keys to the house, and he also even had someone inside the house who was willingly opening the door for him.
I opened the door for him, held his hand and tried to guide him inside. Sometimes he would peak his head in. Other times he would even put one foot inside the door. But he had been living like this for so long, that the outside felt familiar and comfortable. The inside - the normalcy, the calm - that shit was scary to him. So that's how our entire relationship was - he had one foot out the door at all times.
I did take that role as his partner very seriously. To help him through the hard stuff, especially the stuff I had been through before but had made it to "the other side". And I valued it very much when he was able to extend a hand and help me as well.
For me, that was the hardest part of all of this. I don't ever think of his A in terms of my looks, or my sexual prowess, or about what the OW has that I don't have, or any of the other "typical" betrayed spouse thoughts. I mourn the partnership I believed we had worked hard to cultivate. I was under no illusions that partnership would be easy, that we would agree with everything our partner did or said, hell, that we would even like each other all the time. But I committed anyway, knowing that I loved this person, warts and all, and just like I had lived through some shit, and worked through very difficult things to get myself to a better place, I would put that same amount of effort into helping my partner, through thick and thin.
I chose someone who had been through difficult stuff. I chose him on purpose, because I thought it showed me how he could handle adversity. We promised each other that we would help each other through even the most difficult of circumstances, and I believed him. It's why I stuck around for so long, through some of the most gut-wrenching things someone could endure. Then when circumstances arose that honestly felt like a blip on the radar compared to everything else we had been through, he bailed. I remember saying to him at the end - This, really? This is what broke us?
After I caught them, he got really nasty. Everything was my fault, of course, but at the same time, I had the story all wrong. He didn't leave me for another woman, you see, he left me because all I ever did was tell him what he did wrong. But one of the last things I said to him, before I went full NC, was look, no matter what I did or said in our relationship that you think is so terrible, I never gave up. I am still proud of that. I'm also proud of myself for letting go when I needed to.