Softening



There we were, living in Los Angeles for five years.  Two little baby boys, no real income, and a husband pushing through two master's degrees and a PhD.  Not to mention a wife who usually didn't have any transportation during the day and sometimes felt a little locked in.  Don't get me wrong, we had a blast in the middle of all of the stress.  We made good friends that have become like family and we learned a lot about life and struggle and being a team.  I think our marriage would be different had we not had our California years, because it was while we were there that we learned that we could do things that were hard.  We learned that we were pretty darned independent (something this writer still pays for), and that we liked an adventure.  

But I still find it so ironic that while we lived right there near the Pacific Ocean I didn't always know the secret keys to helping my husband feel pacified.  I can blame it on being distracted with food and shelter needs, or even on the relatively short amount of time we had been together (or spent together at least).  There were times when Geo would come home and be on the verge of a mini-breakdown, like when he was getting close to completing his dissertation and his mentor had him rewrite large sections.  It was the first real time I had seen him question himself and his abilities.  It was a very hard thing to watch and to experience along with him. He made the needed changes and worked so hard during the end run in order to graduate and get out on the market as soon as possible.  I realize now that I didn't thank him enough for all of his hard work and persistence during those years.  He sacrificed time with the boys (especially our second son who was born while we lived in LA) so that we could get on with the business of being a family and doing family things, like getting a good job and buying our first house.  I can look back now and call him our hero, our champion.

It has been 14 years since we packed up our little U-Haul, went to say goodbye to our very best LA friends, who had moved to Pasadena, and got on the road toward BYU.  We had mixed emotions about leaving, but we were excited to  be moving forward with a chance to see Geo's hard work pay off.  

I still see the stress come out in my friend, my husband.  He is hard on himself and knows he has important things to do with his life.  He really is a visionary person in the best sense of the word.  He wants to contribute all that he has to making a difference in his field, even when he is the only one who seems to catch some of that vision.  (Ironically, now that we live in land-locked Utah he has water-skiing as a major stress reliever!)   

Circumstances can change, but most often the person deep down inside is the same.  The best thing about getting older is that you can see things coming from more of a distance.  The signs become a little clearer to read and the sharp edges of disappointment and self-doubt don't seem to cut quite so deep.  I used to think it was that we get numb to things that used to sting a bit more, but now I realize it is not numbness as much as increased compassion.  That first time in LA when I witnessed my husband having an honestly weak moment I was thrown.  I felt the tremors that come from uncertainty and I had no idea how to react.  After more than a couple of decades together I spot signals better.  I am not as blind-sided by my own whirlwinds or the ones that happen inside my home, even when they knock things off the walls.  I now know that the Lord takes every opportunity to soften us and allow us to be less and less traumatized by life and the people in it.  Not because we lose our sense of feeling, but because we gain more and more of it.  Only now it is concern for others more than for ourselves.

4 comments

Juliana | August 15, 2008 at 10:25 AM

Thanks. :) I feel like this post was just for me, and you know why! My husband had a mini-meltdown this week with interviewing and other stresses. It really threw me for a loop seeing him so unsure of himself. Nice to know I'm not the only one who gets surprised by that kind of thing!

Mrs4444 | August 15, 2008 at 1:04 PM

This is a terrific post; especially the entire last paragraph. I could really relate. The older I get, the more I have he same attitude; now that I know so much, I'd love to start over again :)

Thanks for your great comment on my B.A. post. That post is going to be a tough one to beat (for me!)I'm glad you could benefit from my most embarASSing moment! :)

Lisa | August 21, 2008 at 8:41 AM

This is lovely. What a great portrayal of the changes and growth that come throughout life/marriage. I still keep hoping that I'll get learning some stuff so I can be a better wife/mother/person in general...

charrette | September 2, 2008 at 10:34 PM

Knowing something of the stresses he's been under, I DO think you've dealt with them superbly. Jeff and I have experienced some of the "softening" you speak of here as well. L.A. toughened us up, and life's experiences have brought that softening compassion over time.

Nice post.