“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” ― Molière

Several years ago, on one very hot July day, I asked the Universe to teach me patience.

It was a Sunday, one of those intensely humid days where you start sweating the moment you step outside and it’s too hot to eat, so you subsist on water and smoothies and say a little prayer of thanks for the bougie comforts like central air. 

I love that hot weather.  Yes, it runs contrary to my Minnesota roots and European bloodlines, but sweating is comforting to me.  I contend that I would probably lose 40 pounds if I lived in the South since I’m not much for fried foods and don’t like to eat when it’s hot, but that’s another idea for another time.

Ex3 and I were having one of the usual disagreements.  On this particular Sunday, it was the disagreement where we planned to do something early in the afternoon, but he was already dug in at one of the local watering holes.  I always knew the making of the plans was futile, but hope tends to triumph over experience in these situations and my Ann Frank quality makes me see the best in people. 

The sober one in the relationship should know better than to believe the one who is really sick in his or her addiction. 

I know that.  Really, I do.

I knew it then.  I still know it now.

But I somehow managed to still try the calls and the texts to see if he was just running late or if something happened. 

We believe what we want to believe in these situations.

Until the hours passed and it was the sweltering part of the day, the middle of the afternoon, when the sun was high and the air was so thick you choked on it.  All I could think about is how much easier it would be to say to hell with everything and just have a drink. 

At least I remembered that for me, there is no such thing as “a drink.”

So I yelled at the basement wall for a while.

I’m sure it was a cogent, rousing oration. 

I was antsy.  I was angry.  I was playing the co-dependent.  I needed movement.  It was too hot to take Alli and Joey out for a walk, much less a run. 

The bike was the next best thing, so I did sprints up and down hills, my muscles on fire, until my mind was moving slower than my legs. 

There may have been tears mixed in with the sweat when I sat down and there was a drinking fountain at the park so at least I wasn’t gonna expire from dehydration. 

I walked the bike over to the bar where Ex3 was and threw the bike in the back of the truck.  As I sat on the tailgate, facing west, sun beating on my face, I tried my best to clear my mind, which ultimately became almost a pulsing trance in which I felt or heard nothing but the beating of my own heart. 

He stumbled out shortly after, tossed me the keys, and said it was time to go home.

I asked the Universe to teach me patience. 

That was years ago, but I recently realized something.

I have an incredible amount of patience with other people, probably to a fault.  It’s patience with myself that’s been a struggle. 

What’s the opposite of patience?  Anger, shame, fear—all of the emotions I played like a card game for years.  I was so entrenched in that as my identity it never occurred to me that I had options.  Anger is addictive itself and will swaddle you like doting mother swaddling a newborn.  And even when I stopped pushing my anger outward, I was still dealing with anger, shame, and fear internally. 

It’s a nice recipe to become co-dependent.

I was a relationship doormat. 

This would have been better advice.  (Photo by ChristiTolbert/iStock / Getty Images)

This would have been better advice.  (Photo by ChristiTolbert/iStock / Getty Images)

It didn’t say, “Welcome,” though.  It said, “You suck and you deserve this.”

Patience, girl.  Find a purpose for your pain.  Invest in yourself from now on. 

Stay tuned.