I remember in the 90’s there was a lot of talk about co-dependency, and I thought that meant depending on someone so much, you couldn’t function without them. It was a sort of addiction, in a way. At least it was to my understanding. But the entire purpose of a marriage is for you to depend on one another, is it not? To become so involved in one another’s business that to deal with either husband or wife is like dealing with both husband and wife. Now it seems our focus in marriage, or partnerships, is to become as independent as you can possibly can be. And there is wisdom in being able to be independent, but it seems in this pursuit, we are as far from being co-dependent on one another as any people could be.
I remember my divorce from my first husband. He wanted me to work, but he wanted me to be a good mom. In fact, that was, as he’d tell me when our marriage was dissolving, his entire reason for marrying me: because he knew I’d make a good mom–not a good wife or partner, but a good mother. I was a good mother, but I was also a good wife. Being a good wife and mother didn’t save my marriage. I feel that was because we didn’t work TOGETHER. We did a lot independently.
When I was married to Sam, I suppose you could claim that he was ‘co dependent’ on me. I had to go back to work, and work full time, to support the family, including him, because of his disabilities. He raised my children and in some ways, they were also depended on, so much that he called them his seeing eye girl and seeing eye boy. But mostly, it was on me to make the difference to be both his eyes and his ears.
I learned ASL (American Sign Language) and for the most part, outside of the home or immediate neighborhood, including trips to the doctor, audiologists, Walmart, church and government agencies, we did that all together. We moved like one person, almost literally. He was on my arm, at my side, and he had to see and hear the world through me.
Though there were a lot of miscommunications between us personally, he had to trust that everything I told him from people outside of him and me, was an accurate interpretation. In any case, it was a better interpretation, most of the time, than he could provide himself in public.
To give you the most honest opinion on how I felt about that, I would need to explain that at the time, I felt like I was living in a fairy tale. I was important. I was needed. I was loved wholly for who I was inside and out. All of this you can read at our blog: A Deaf In The Family. You have to read it from the earliest posts to the latest to understand how we both felt: He felt like the hero of a novel, a hobbit hero, and he made me feel like the Queen of the Faye.
Who wouldn’t miss that? How could anyone compete with that? But I married again and my new husband understood all of what I just explained, and that he was taking on a widow – who still loved her dead husband.
With my new husband, I struggle to feel important or needed at all. I can’t even say I feel fully loved, or loved wholly. He is definitely a knight in shinning armor, rescuing the widowed and orphaned. He is a very good man though he, like all people, has his flaws. I do feel that I am a better person when I am with him, but I’m not the best person I can be, because I know that best person I can be. I’m really trying to be that best person. It’s been extraordinarily hard.
It’s hard to find the balance with this new person, even after 4 years, when you know what it’s like to be important and needed. And it’s hard to compete with a ghost. Sometimes when we argue, he’ll remark bitterly that he knows he’s not like Sam and he doesn’t like being compared to him. The last time he did this, I told him that it was better to be compared to Sam than my ex husband (for various reasons). On that we agreed.
Every time I write these things, trying to work them out, I just end up missing Sam more, and wonder if this is doing me any good at all. Am I picking at a wound, or wrapping it up with care to heal it? I don’t know. I’m still working this out myself. Maybe there is no solution, so I don’t know what to tell you.