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Taking the Good with the Bad: A COVID-19 Story

| This is the 560th story of Our Life Logs® |

“Without Good, there is not Bad, and without Bad, there is not Good; similarly, every object displays its opposite object. Thus, learn to face and live with that.” ― Ehsan Sehgal

Let’s start with a little background. My life began in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a middle-class tech family. I had a great childhood and fond memories of my father and I, building all kinds of little gadgets together. In fact, we built my first computer together before I was even a teenager. Needless to say, it was no surprise when I went into the field of IT when I graduated from high school.

In 2017, I married my best friend. My beautiful wife is, was, and will always be the person with whom I can share everything. Our best moments are indescribable and our worst are worth pushing through. When you find someone who absolutely loves you, despite how moody and messy you can be, you never let them go.

Now, I may be a little biased about her, but know that she is not only spectacular to me. She brings such positive energy wherever she goes, especially to her career. Not only is she beautiful, but she also has the gift of gab. She can sell water to a whale, air to a bird, a heart to cupid—you get the idea. She can charm her way into anything. While I was off in the IT world, she was selling cars to people with her expertise and wit. She loved her job as much as I loved mine.

Things seemed to be going perfectly for a long time as if life handed us an extended honeymoon. But then, in 2020, the coronavirus was spreading rapidly around the world. As word spread of stores and workplaces shutting down in cities like New York City to prevent the spread of the virus, we became frantic. Only months before, I had become the manager for a small, home-grown tech repair shop that had been my dream job for years. I feared that, suddenly, it would be taken from me because of the pandemic. Not only that but, passions aside, my wife and I feared the day we’d get sick and go broke.

I staved off the trickle of fear for a while. New York City was a long way away from my neck of the woods. But then…a case of COVID-19 was discovered in Las Vegas. Stores around us shut down. We were afraid that we’d meet the same fate. Finally, stay-at-home orders were issued in the middle of March.

Funny thing, though. As COVID-19 took over the world, so did the need for electronic repairs. By March, business was booming. That makes sense, right? More people were working from home, attending virtual school, which meant more and more people started dusting off their old laptops and tablets, only to find it wasn’t working properly. Our repair sales boosted more than 50 percent! It seemed like we became an essential business overnight.

While I was having great experiences with our thriving business, my wife was struggling at home. Working from home became the new normal for a lot of people. My wife was one of those people, except she never found it to be normal. She hated it. And as time passed, it really affected her mental health.

My wife prided herself on being one of the top salesmen, being one of the best. She used to come home with stories of how she managed to get a sale after nobody else could. She loved all aspects of her job, including what she wore. She loved curling her hair, putting on makeup, and wearing “professional” clothes. This ritual made work feel like a separate place from our home, one where she could socialize with potential buyers while she looked and felt her best. Without this, she felt lost.

Now that she was working virtually, the magic of the car-selling experience was gone. The ambiance and chase had been deleted from this profession temporarily while the virus ran its course. Our lives were so different, yet we were experiencing the same pandemic. It was almost like she was getting the short end of the stick while I was being blessed beyond measure. Why was this happening?

There would be many days that I would come home so excited from a great day at work only to be greeted by anger, resentment, and depression. She did not mean to be this way, but her being left home alone for hours, days, weeks, and then months was starting to take its toll. I started to feel guilty about my happiness because she wasn’t sharing in it.

No cars were being sold because people did not purchase cars without the test drive. It was the selling point of the entire process. I did my best to encourage her. Still, day after day, I would come home in a great mood only to find her all cried out and saddened by her new reality. It was as if we were living two separate lives. Hers, stunted by change and mine, enhanced by it. How could the same situation bring our business so much joy and our personal life so much pain?

Nobody came and saved the day. There was no miraculous moment to share. I just had to wait it out and support her. I knew that things would be better whenever my wife could go back to work in-person. Many nights were filled with awkward silences. Sometimes, I would come home to her crying, and all I could do was listen to her. Sometimes, all she needed was for me to listen and be a comfort for her. Nobody wants to watch the person they love suffer from sadness. I never judged, and I avoided the tough love approach because I honestly believe that love is patient and kind. Sometimes I had no advice to offer at all, just a quiet, supportive body. To get through this patch, we had to remember the life and love that we had before the stresses of COVID-19, and we had to trust that it would go back to a better normal. That helped keep us going.

And so, when my wife received the news she’d been waiting for, I celebrated with her! She returned to work, and she was excited to be back in the game. It’s back to being greeted by those familiar stories of success or suspenseful stories of clients expected to return. She was back in her comfort zone, in her familiar place. I realized then just how important human interaction can be for our mental health.

You can be under the same roof as someone and have opposite experiences. In hindsight, I wonder if our different experiences were meant to balance and humble each other. If I had only seen my success, I would have never developed the compassion I have for the people who are seeing the dimmer side of the quarantine. And if she had never seen me doing so well at the job, she would have never got to see the bright side of the quarantine. It was like she was yin and I was yang.

While most people wanted 2020 to hurry up and end, there are many parts of it I don’t want to forget. I want to look back and grow from these moments. I hope this story turned on the lights for somebody out there. Living with somebody who is struggling with peace, whether it’s a mental illness or a season of sadness, is tough, but giving up because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat. Just change that one tire and get back on the road again.

This is the story of Joshua Ruesch

Joshua and his wife both experienced polar opposite conditions of the pandemic. While Josh’s electronic business was booming, his wife had to be confined at home, working remotely and alone for months after being a top performer at her job for years. Eventually, while Josh experienced all his highs, his wife simultaneously experienced some lows. But they have now become stronger and grew together instead of apart in this time of constant change. They now spend their days watching movies together when they are not working, and they enjoy cooking and Zoom.

This story first touched our hearts on December 1, 2020

Writer: Melodie Harris | Editor: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker

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