NVLD and Breakups, by Amanda Byrd

By July 24, 2019NVLD Bloggers

Its 1 AM and I just found out that my ex unfriended me. For nearly six years I was romantically involved with someone who saw me in a way I had trouble seeing myself. I was able to be myself around this person and I hardly ever had a melt down around them. *But when he wasn’t around boy did, he hear about it* Patience was not necessarily his strong suit, and neither is mine. But when it came to us as a “we.” We waited too long. We dated for 3 years the last 3 we were cuddle buddies/friends who sometimes go on dates. He was my best friend. He knew things about me I would never in a million years tell anyone else, not even my dog.

I screwed up earlier this year, I was going through some personal issues relating to my mental health and needed to go to a special program to help me sort out those issues. We had been getting closer and were even talking about getting back together. I told him we would wait until I got out of my program to revisit the topic…. And when we did, we were on different wave lengths. (He wanted a family and I told him that I didn’t think it would be good for my health if I procreated… I told him that I had just gotten out of an intense therapy program and the postpartum stuff scares me. He has no idea its really because I’m afraid my NVLD would make the wife and mother thing harder.) Overtime, he just wanted to help, and make sure that I was okay before we did anything further. Unfortunately, I mistook his friendship as a sign that he was ready to get back together. When he started pulling away, I would do anything in my book that I could to keep any sort of line of communication open. (Even though I kept telling him that I can’t be just friends with him, it would be too painful.) I would message him or text every day, talk about my day even if he didn’t ask, ask about his day, send memes, gifs, anything to start a conversation (and if I saw he read it but didn’t respond I’d just keep on going with a one sided conversation hoping to spark some sort of interest. Geez, reading it in writing does sound kind of fan girl stalkery).

What makes this prince charming so special if I can’t tell him I have a nonverbal learning disability? A big part of it is he never thought I was stupid, dumb, or lazy. Clumsy, forgetful, sure, I have trouble remembering where I parked and what his car looks like even if I was just in it but not once did he ask me if I was stupid or something. The adjectives he used (Pre-Depression) were ambitious, smart, beautiful, happy… now I don’t think he knows who I am… I don’t know who I am.

He is this happy laid-back ball of sunshine that brightens up any room he walks in with a certain energy and swagger that is open and welcoming. He was literally the sun to my rain. Well, not literally but you get it. While for most his presence was one of energy and hype, for me it was calming. Calm is not a word, feeling or action I have ever used to describe myself but he had never seen me melt down (we’d fight but never to where I had felt the need to do some damage control or call it a “melt down, mood, tantrum” whatever it is that happens when I shut down and become the “She-Hulk” he had never seen it but had heard of it).

How did NVLD impact some poor choices I made? I hate change, I hate feeling judged, most importantly, I’m socially awkward. We never spent time with each other’s families and my list of excuses was endless. When he would half kid that just hanging out at his house with his family would be fun that created a mini panic attack and I would usually suggest another time when he’d let his family know I was coming over or we pick a date so I was less anxious (never happened but I never brought it up because I’m a chicken). We rarely hung out with my family too (he came to one family white elephant party and two dinners with my parents). I didn’t care because I was more focused on my relationships and individual relationships and failed to see the bigger picture and how this only made our relationship more toxic and complicated in the long run.

Depression hurts but because it can create an intense feeling of isolating thoughts and actions, we sometimes fail to see that we are unintentionally pushing away loved ones. For me the combination of my ongoing uphill battle with depression and my NVLD created a lethal combination. While my social quirks aren’t as bad as my spatial and executive functioning issues, they’re still bad enough to make me feel super awkward and create a super uncomfortable environment.

Sometimes love and chemistry aren’t enough to keep a relationship alive. Sometimes you need to be upfront and honest about your needs when you know what they are. If I could go back and tell him the truth, tell him that I wanted nothing else but to get back together but I was afraid that things would end badly, or that I need you to tell me to stop talking to you so I get the message because you talking to me and being nice is confusing and it hurts if that’s all it is. That I miss our random adventures or how you made me feel brave and confident even when I was at my lowest. That even though I hate feelings with a passion because of how messy and confusing they can be I’m sorry that I didn’t express how I felt about you more when I had the chance. Finally, thank you for being there for me when I was at my lowest even though we had been broken up for 3 years.

If you’re still reading this, thank you, this has been very difficult for me to sort out in a logical format. If you have gotten sick of me ranting than scroll down to the how to end a relationship in a healthy stress less fashion otherwise stick around to an open letter to my ex where I finally tell him that I have NVLD and explain what it is and how it impacted our relationship.

Dear You,
Its been a while…. I’m writing because I am posting my take on our relationship on that blog I told you about. Well its for people with NVLD, a Non-Verbal Learning Disability. What that means is different for everyone in terms of severity but according to additudemag.com it is “a brain-based condition characterized by the following: difficulty recognizing and processing nonverbal cues — body language, facial expression, and the nuances of conversation, poor visual, spatial, and organizational skills.” Remember when we were walking back to the dorms from class and I had to drop something off in an office building? That was me dropping off a test request so that I could have extended time because I had accommodations, that building you followed me to be the disability office. Now that I’m done taking tests and quizzes (for now) here are some examples of how it impacted us when we hung out. That’s why I could never find your car (or mine) or had trouble figuring out what to do if there was a lull in conversation. This in no way excuses any behavior, action, or argument that may have come up as a result of this condition but I only thought it fair that you knew what was going on and understood that somethings that are worthwhile like meeting and spending more time with your family or the scary possibility of me becoming a parent doesn’t make them impossible just more challenging. These examples I only recently understood how they wouldn’t have been impossible just hard. I am sorry I didn’t explain that or realized it when I had.

I let fear get in the way of the chance of something good. I often wonder why we didn’t just get back together and that is a question I will continue to ask myself until I come up with a reason that will stop my brain from obsessing and telling me that this is just another failure to add to my list. Since I know you’re probably never going to read this I might as well say that I never stopped loving you, I just couldn’t bring myself to say it because I was afraid. Now that its too late I might as well let you know that is the Gods truth in how I feel. I miss you, your laugh, your smile. Our late-night conversations about anything, how just an episode of Rick and Morty or Bobs Burgers turns into an entire season plus half a season of Disenchantment. I know I just spent this entire article talking about how we could talk about anything and how I felt is a pretty big thing to just leave out after 3 years of not really but kinda dating. I didn’t want to say it unless I knew we were getting back together because if I said it and you didn’t feel the same, I don’t know what I would have done. I really do hope I hear from you even if it’s you are telling me you’ve moved on and your happy, because happiness is all I could ever want for you. Thank you for spending the last six years making me feel loved, wanted, smart, and beautiful even when I didn’t always believe the last 2, I always knew you cared. I’m not sure how to end this letter without making it weirder than it already is. So ummmmmmmmm
Wishing you nothing but peace love and happiness,
-Me

Here are some tips to get through a breakup:

  • Make it a no contact break up even when they say I want to stay friends I don’t want to be dead to you it’s in everyone’s best interest to have space to process everything
  • Don’t use food to cope: If you forget to eat when you are stressed try and set timers through out the day to eat a little something on the contrary if you use food to cope try not to do a healthy activity to prevent yourself from eating everything in site just because you are sad and stressed.
  • Seriously don’t reach out to them it will only be more painful and harder to rip the band aid off in the end (especially if they were your biggest emotional support)
  • Reach out to friends and family for support
  • If you see mental health counselors increase your appointments for a while

Dating with NVLD:

  • Remember to be honest if you don’t like country music and your partner does don’t say you love Keith Urban be honest and say that genre gives you a headache or however it makes you feel
  • If you live at home and you are uncomfortable with your parents knowing you’re on a date tough, tell them who you’re with so they know you’re safe, and so your date doesn’t feel slighted.(Trust me, a couple months ago my mom acted weird because
    s. he knew I wasn’t hanging out with who I said I was and when I told my ex what was going on he was rightfully angry because I felt like I had to lie to spend time with I let fear get in the way of something good
  • Be open to new experiences no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at the time
    (unless it’s something that is a risky behavior that could put your life in danger)
  • Have fun dating is supposed to be about spending time with someone who makes you laugh, and smile even when you don’t feel like smiling
  • If you’re nervous about going out, go on a practice date with a trusted friend

Dating someone with NVLD:

  • Be patient with their forgetfulness
  • Be forgiving about their social blunders (we aren’t trying to be rude its just harder to pick up on taboo things)
  • Be blunt when something is bothering you if your annoyed and giving off nonverbal signs, they’ll either be looked passed or overanalyzed to the point of obsession (this is true for me
  • They’re just like everyone else except maybe a little more awkward and slightly bad at math

What I wish I’d done:

  • Come up with code words to let the other person know when I needed a break or let me know when I’m going off topic or being rude
  • come up with a social plan for meeting important people in each other’s lives instead of avoiding the issue all together
  • I wish I didn’t let fear ruin something good I did every big change in my life and I’ve run out of chances with this person

Amanda Byrd

Amanda is a Project Social Ambassador and learned about her NVLD as a teenager. She was under the impression it just meant that life is harder than the average teen but that it would get easier. That was 10 years ago. “I still have NVLD but now I also have a bachelor’s degree and depression. I don’t think I totally understand the impact the combination has on me, but I hope that we can explore this together through my posts.”

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