"Not to replace me, in addition to me!" I clarified. I think the first time I said this to my husband he laughed, rolled his eyes back in his head and said, "Yeah right, like I could handle two of you!" But I was serious. I had yet to be diagnosed with CFS/ME and Fibro but had already been through three severe bouts of Pancreatitis and was developing horrible symptoms of pain and fatigue that no doctor was diagnosing or fixing. I worried for our futures. His if my mystery illness was terminal, mine if I were to not get better, or yet, keep getting worse, as the trend seemed to be following. "She could have the children and work so I could stay home and recover and we could have a family!" I protested. It seemed like a win-win to me, addressing the major areas I felt inadequate as a wife; childbearing and bringing in an income. In retrospect I believe I had been watching way too much Big Love & Girls Next Door, because for some reason polygamy did not seem like such a bad idea given our situation.
Perhaps I liked the thought so much because I was the one that needed the wife. I needed help managing our lives, was getting too sick to maintain it myself, and an extra pair of hands seemed like just the remedy. Maybe this was the lonely only child in me craving a girlfriend to hang out with, conceivably a fantasy-land of harem-ish sisterhood, some strange flight of imagination that never actually considered what it would be like to put another woman in my husband's bed. "We could get a Russian mail-order bride," I would tease him. But as my health continued to decline and I kept after him about this he finally started getting mad. I did not understand how badly I was hurting him with the fears of my own demise wrapped up in a little box of sarcastic jest. One day he finally snapped and laid down the law. "Do not say that ever again! It is not funny, not an option and you sound like a lunatic!" he declared. "I love you and only want to be with you and don't care about having biological children. We can always adopt when the time is right. But when you say that it freaks me out so shut-up already!" He did not want another woman, he only wanted me. He was either a saint or insane, I couldn't tell which.
So I shut up about it, but I still worried about him. I had a vision of myself on my death bed, having picked out his new wife and trained her in all the ways a wife of experience knows how to take care of her husband. What a control freak I was! But I loved him so much and feared for him facing the big, bad, cold, hard world alone. I wanted a buffer, someone to look after him, and the easiest link for me to jump to was to create another me. I also felt horribly guilty for ruining his life with my sickness. All our plans and hopes and dreams for the future were not just on the back burner, they had been taken off the stove and put into the refrigerator. I was grateful, so grateful for his steadfastness, but the guilt was insane. I have heard the horror stories and know how bad abandonment when you are already down can be. Whenever I would express gratitude or appreciation that he stuck around he would just look at me and say, "What are you talking about, you are my wife," like it had never been a question to anyone ever a person might bail on their sick spouse. I come from a family of multiple divorces, his parents remained married until my mother-in-law passed away. That is a fundamental difference in upbringing I took for granted. Also, his father had strokes when he was quite young and his mother was a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant), so health problems did not fly at him and smack him in the face from left field the way they did me. They were just part of life. I have carried these guilty feeling with me for the last five years but it was through his devotion I found the strength to make the decision to fight my ass off to get my life back.
He has indeed been to hell and back with me and it finally took having two strokes for me to truly comprehend he would never leave me. It was never a question to anyone but my paranoid mind. How I got this lucky I will never know. We were two drunk college kids that fell in love at 22 and have clung to each other for dear life ever since. We have made a choice to put our marriage above all else, make it a priority, forced ourselves to grow together during times of personal change and made tremendous sacrifices for the sake of being together. We just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary and I finally feel like I have this marriage thing down. We have a groove, a flow, a fit that works. Yeah, we are both a little insane, but that makes it all the more interesting. So let me say thank you, honey, for just being you in all your amazing awesomeness. And to all you supportive spouses out there, you have not only made our lives worthwhile, you have made them worth fighting for.
Thanks for joining,
This blog was originally published on 9/2/2010. What came to mind as I read this is all the parents who feel deficient, as though their illness is robbing their children of a childhood. It jumped out at me my husband was one of those children. So take heart friends, through your challenges you can raise exceptional people.