Linda Bengston shared her writing with us at our Inspire! Event on Addiction, which had a deep impact on many of the participants there. Many had asked for a copy, and Linda has allowed us to share.
My Husband’s One True Love
My husband says he loves me and I believe he does. But I am not his One True Love. I am not the love he cannot endure the thought of living life without. My husband’s One True Love is androgynous, genderless. It has many shapes and personalities. And while my husband occasionally ignores it a few days at a time, he always wants it and always returns to it.
My husband’s One True Love (OTL) is Siren-like with many faces and many personalities. He loves them all, some more than others and at some times more than other times. But he loves them all unconditionally and under any circumstances.
Sometimes my husband’s OTL is tall and graceful with gently rounded shoulders, clear complexion, and bubbling personality. Sometimes it is tall with squared shoulders and a personality strong and powerful. Sometimes it is square and squat with a complexion like sunlight through amber and a scent that exudes promise. Sometimes it arrives in multiples – clones. These clones are sometimes stubby and round, and he loves them most on hot summer days. Sometimes they are mid-size with fruity personalities. He loves them as well. Sometimes their personalities are dry and sophisticated. He savors them.
My husband and his OTL are frequently together – watching TV, reading, working in the yard, driving on errands. Nearly any time is a good time for their special camaraderie. When my husband can’t sleep and is up in the middle of the night, he turns for comfort to his One True Love. Often, OTL is nearby when he goes to bed at night, the last thing his lips touch before he sleeps. He does little without One True Love close at hand.
Sometimes my husband holds his One True Love close, embracing its clear, unique essence only for himself. Other times, he shares it with coffee, Diet Coke, 7-Up, Gatorade, orange juice, tomato juice, V-8. He and his One True Love are simply quite happy together under any circumstances.
But OTL has a dangerous side, one my husband either misunderstands or chooses to ignore. OTL can interfere with the medication that helps to regulate my husband’s blood pressure. It can do the same with other medications important to his health. It causes sleeplessness – perhaps, I sometimes think, out of selfishness so my husband will then be drawn to it for comfort. OTL can cause social and relationship difficulties because it encourages anger, petulance, defensiveness, belligerence. Perhaps, I think, OTL is jealous. If OTL strains my husband’s relationships, then he will have fewer distractions from it. OTL encourages my husband to say – and write – painful, hurtful things that cannot be undone and are best left uncommunicated.
My husband knows I know about his One True Love. I have tried to talk with him about it, but he refuses, even denies and ignores. Frequently, he tries to hide it from me, often shielding OTL from my sight as he walks past. Sometimes he leaves OTL in the garage or his car, but he checks frequently to engage with it and to make certain all is well and it is waiting patiently for him. Only when the time is right – or I am otherwise occupied – does he bring it inside where they can be comfortably together.
I have begun to reach an odd kind of acceptance of my husband’s One True Love. When I first discovered the relationship, I thought it was temporary and I was patient. When I realized it was a permanent part of my husband’s life, I felt angry that I, we, our marriage, our life, his health were less important to him than OTL. I finally came to the painful realization that his many pronouncements of my great importance in his life were just that – pronouncements. And I came to realize that OTL is as essential to my husband’s life as the air he breathes.
While my husband loves me, I know he does not love me most. Most of the time I no longer feel angry about that. I feel deeply sad. I miss what we once had and what could be. And I feel fear. I fear that one day OTL will not only gain total control over my husband’s life but that it will end his life.
If that happens, I hope his One True Love brings him comfort in the end.