That virtue thing. What does that even mean anyway? That everyone should have it? Apparently so. Instead of being told what you should or shouldn’t be as a person, and listening, I have found that it’s important to develop your own understanding of why you might need something such as patience.
I never used to care about patience. I spent years being somewhat impatient. Although dubbed patient by many of those around me, my stomach still turned in annoyance when someone couldn’t figure out what they wanted to drink, my eyes instinctively rolled at one who took sweet time tying their shoes, my hand shot to my phone while in line for the bathroom. Worst of all though, was this patience lacking for myself. I gave my poor body and mind no time to understand, no room to heal. I rushed myself out the door. I set unreasonable deadlines and harped on myself for missing them. I sweat in the coldest of rooms. Mostly blaming it on anxiety for so many years… but the anxiety was a creation. It was born time and time again from this fermenting lack of patience. Unclear and sour to the taste. Reeking havoc on the body of it’s mother. Ungrateful and unkind.
The first step is that the patience comes from being patient. That was the hardest realization of them all. To get there you first need to sample it. It’s an acquired taste. Like bitters it is soothing to one’s stomach but needs to first pass over the tongue. It needs space to be cleared for it. It needs to be understood.
I knew it would be at least a month before comfort. I knew the bitters would taste foul until I formed a taste for their soothing. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. So I decided to be strong and to learn. That was the second step.
Over the last two months I have dedicated myself to a deeper understanding of this “virtue” patience. I first developed the idea that it was important and immediately necessary for sanity. I then spent much of my time in complete silence. Music warms my soul, but music was a vice. Filling my mind with the sound to ignore my thoughts was weak. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to fill my mental space with music created from that which I had learned, and the strength I had gained. I created two silent hours for myself everyday, at the very least, dedicated to my thoughts. Meditation, personal moral support, developing deeper emotional understanding, all of the above. Most of all, sobriety and silence. I couldn’t live in my space yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about him or what he did to my emotion, I couldn’t sleep well, I couldn’t be happy, so I had to be patient. So that’s what I did.
Over the course of those two months I grew. I created a sense of closure for myself that wasn’t provided in my break-up. I went to therapy once a week. I spent time being sad. I spent time being angry. I crashed my car. I spent time invested in others and couldn’t give myself my all. I worked on patience. Every. Single. Day. It is not over. It is not easy. It never will be.
You can either run from your shit or grow from it. In this story, running represents weakness, and growing represents strength. The tree doesn’t run from the storm. She may bend or sway. She may lose her leaves. She may even wilt, but she does not run. She stays rooted in place, patient and trusting that the storm will end and the water will provide her with nourishment. The tree is strong. Developing roots for myself was the most important part of developing my patience. Now, I can lean on me. Others too. My beautiful friends, my loving family, they are there, and they are everything. When they are not there though, and when I am alone I am comfortable. No more ticking of misunderstanding and impatience. I am patient with myself and with others. It is life changing.