patient powerlessness

Being incarcerated means endless waiting…for chow, for meds, for decisions from the courts about your status.  ..a deserved waiting, some would say.  But, imagine the experience of losing control over absolutely EVERYTHING in your life, including when you shower, eat, hug your children, and on and on.  Imprisonment is the ultimate experience of powerlessness.

“Turtle” by Tina

Responding to a line from Kay Ryan’s poem Patience, ‘inside’-writer BE shares her insights:

“Patience is wider than one once envisioned…”

If you listen to the ringing in your ears, your heart racing as your mind says quicker, quicker, quicker…go, go, go, yet your body yearns for solitude, and “patience” seems like a foreign word.

..waiting at the end of the line having to sit and think about the life you left behind…not knowing when or if you’ll get back in time.

..listening to the radio, waiting for your favorite song to play.  Day turns to night, and it never played.  ..not having the choice to change the disc or skip the CD.

..waiting for the great day to come when you will hear good news.  Maybe you can get back to your life and your own choices.

Now you’ve waited and waited long enough and what they call “patience” is all you have left inside your hurting soul.

..having no choice but to endure this complicated situation you’ve put yourself in.  ..being left with no choice but to be patient.  God knows that once you lose it (patience), the consequences will only hurt worse and steal more light from your already aching soul.

Some say “patience is a virtue.”  Yet, I must ask, is it a virtue or a necessary tool for this place we call “life?”

kneeling at the foot of patience

“Patient Tree” by Bhamgal

Middle-aged women who have managed successful careers and families–and lose everything due to addictions–tug at my heart in a particular way.  This week, LN joined our circle of 13 women to write about the diamonds of patience.  She wasted no time sharing her life-story and ongoing battle with alcoholism.  The final line of her piece caused eyes to well up with tears.  Read on…

Patience is not my strong suit. I’ve had to work diligently to acquire this most humble virtue.  Patience, as modeled by my mother, father, brothers and grandmother, did not run deep in my family either. So when it comes to my own patience, my only role models were family, outside of priests, nuns, and school teachers, and that didn’t run as deeply as you might think.

I humbled myself with my conversations with God – He alone showed me that His will be done was what I had to accept in His, and only His own time. 

I had major back surgery when I was 15 years old.  I convalesced in a full-body cast, flat on my back for six months.  I had my first taste of my true human nature when all was taken from me so quickly.  I lost my freedom.  I lost my spirit.  I gained humility and patience.

When I became a nurse in 1981 when I was just 21, I learned that my patients didn’t always tell time by my watch.

When I married at 24, I didn’t realize that husbands could also be as impatient as their wives. 

When I went on to have three sons in quick succession, I had to really put on my thinking-cap to keep up with their demands and needs.

When I went to prison in 2004, I learned to wait for all my most basic needs, like nutrition, health and medication.

My final challenge has been accepting that family and friends have set boundaries around my alcoholic words and behaviors. I am aware of my Jekyll and Hyde personality when actively drinking. 

My family’s love comes now in the form of tough love. I only know if I have patience now, those I love and hold dear to my heart will come back to me, even if I arrive in heaven first.