As the spouse of a beautiful, patient and courageous partially sighted wife, I often find myself spending time looking for the next need to be met, whether it be, to raise a few: checking that plates, knives, glasses and sharp objects are not in places that can be harmful; or watching that broken tiles, rough brick work, glass doors or uneven steps, don’t become a hazard resulting in a broken leg, strained back or great humiliation. It only dawned on me, after several decades, that it would be extremely helpful to both me and my wife, if I actually found out what is most helpful to her, and not what I thought was best for her. As I found this out, it released her from a hang of a lot of guilt, and me from growing frustration that I was being taken for granted (which I was, because I really wasn’t meeting her need). The problem was mine – I just needed help from her to know where she needed help. So knowing where help is needed is very helpful and, emotionally, very releasing.
As a spouse who cares for my visually disadvantaged, yet extremely courageous partially sighted wife, I have found, like other carers, that we are often gifted with a degree of compassion, and a capacity to see needs and wants being met, but there is often a downside that can really complicate matters. You see, as a compassionate carer, we tend to start finding our self worth in how we care, and how effective we are in foreseeing needs and fixing them. This will eventually create an emotional fusion and dependence that can become destructive and unkind. The reality is that my wife faces daily challenges and has needs that she must take responsibility for, as do I. While my help may be spot on sometimes, there are other times that it is sorely unhelpful and misguided, and if my self-image is linked to her response you can imagine the dark dungeon I find myself in. So as a carer, I have had to be very real about my limitations, wants, and own personal needs. Maybe those we care for are far better gifted to love us, than we are sometimes able to love them – we need to be as open with our needs as their circumstances reveal theirs.