Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's all about perspective

Recently, on a drive down the Oregon coast my son shared with me a story about perspective. The basic gist of the story is that people judge what they view based on their own circumstances and experiences. In the story that he read there were four identical people but each identified their neighboring mirror images as being either short or tall or fat or skinny, even though they were each the same, because they had been told that they were of a particular attribute. While I thought it was an interesting story and it spurred an even more interesting conversation, I think that in the greater scheme of things it is kind of helping me understand some of the reactions people have had to my current family situation over the last few months since Jon has left on his big red boat.
No, there is nothing about being too fat or to skinny or short or tall. Just a family who is making it on their own while the "Dad" is out to sea.
I've really struggled over the last few months with some of the really shallow things that people say. I won't even describe it as hateful, I don't think they even put enough thought into it to be a hateful or any other emotionally substantive remark. Just little remarks like, "Oh, I my husband loves his family too much to ever take a job like that," or "we have too close of a relationship for him to ever want to be away from me that long". Or some other myriad of statements about commitment to home and family.
They hurt. Yep, there is no better way to say it. Whether family or friends or fellow CG spouse, those little unintentional digs hurt. And not because I believe any of their remarks for even a second, but because they do.
This is where the little conversation about perspective comes in. As I drove back, alone, up the coast I had hours and hours to think. And, as this has been one of the things on the forefront for me lately, I spent almost all of my 6 hours of solo time picking it apart. And it all came back to perspective.
The outsiders perspective: a man willingly leaves his family to go sail around in the ice on a big red boat for months and months at a time. There must be something wrong. He must not love them. She must not want him around. He must not be committed to his family. blah, blah, blah.
Reality: Jon loves his job. The man is happy on that big red boat. He works hard. He is out on the ocean seeing things that most people will never get to see first hand. Our family is living in a beautiful home, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our family, the four of us, are willing to support each other to make our dreams come true- even if it means we aren't always together.
My biggest lesson: I've added to my own personal perspective. And I will always strive to not view people and their situations only through my own filters. But, I can't always assume that just because I share friendships, or acquaintances, with fellow CG families who conceivably share the same perspective, that they are able to remove their filters and not judge based on their own, maybe limited, experience.


Elizabeth said...

I received the exact same comments over the past 2 years -- one from a teacher at my son's school who told me, "My husband likes watching his son grow up way too much to ever leave him."

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY can question the amount of love my husband has for his family ... it can't be measured. As Coastie wives, our hubbies don't often receive much glory -- but we're married to the best of the best.

Just a Girl in a Port said...

Isn't it tragic how people judge based on their own perspective. Sure, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are also entitled to live our lives as we see fit.

Great insightful post. Your son is quite a wise young man as well, but you knew that.

Anonymous said...

I loved your post! I'm really glad that I found your blog...sometimes I feel a little lost in a sea of blogs about other branches, and being a Coast Guard wife, it was amazing to run into this one. I'm writing as "the Coastie wife" guest blogger on my friend's army wife life blog this coming week while she's on vacation with the family, and I'l definitely link to Waiting For Ships... as a resource for other millies who want to know more about the CG perspective. Thank you!

Carol Kilgore said...

You hang in there. Coastie spouses serve every bit as much. Sometimes more. Happy Coast Guard Day!