If there is one thing I have learned from fibromyalgia it has been this, to pause before reacting requires patience. I was once guilty of going 100 MPH out of the gate to condemn what I saw as bullshit. I called it how I saw it. I was tired of the “emotional” excuse, and the “tired” excuse. The “I didn’t know” excuse. I was tired of tired excuses!
- “Well, Bobby did not really mean to break my favorite bowl, he is just so emotional.”
- “Cindy didn’t mean to call you a bitch, she just gets so emotional.”
- “Angie didn’t mean to bite Charlie, she is just tired.”
- “Jimmy didn’t mean to rob that gas station, he didn’t know any better.”
I will bet you the farm that Bobby DID mean to break that specific bowl and Cindy called you a bitch because she wanted to. As for Angie, she’s 8 and the next time she bites you bite her back! Jimmy needs a trip to the correctional institution.
Now, this little ‘quirk’ of mine worked well in my chosen profession. I was in corrections. I worked with adult males coming out of the prison system to re-enter society. I was the Director of a Work Release that aided them in making this a successful process. We worked on everything from job skills, housekeeping, and re-building family relationships to writing resumes and talking professionally to a potential employer on the phone! I believed I was extremely fair and non-biased but if ever an excuse was needed to explain away unacceptable behavior, the cuffs went on and back to prison you went. I would always entertain another request written by the prisoner to re-enter work release, but I would not always grant it. As I learned from many of my past residents, work release was much harder than prison. My staff used to tell the incoming residents, “See that little blonde over there? She is the Director and she is fair. She may look harmless but you don’t ever want to see her mad.” (Now that made me smile.)
I loved that job! I saw so many men re-join society that became successful fathers, husbands, and providers. It was an intense job. At times, heartbreaking, when the disease of addiction ruined one too many lives. There were times it was frightening. When a man feels as if he is backed into a corner, you must be sharp with your ability to de-escalate a situation. But for me, it was everything I had trained my entire life for. All the jobs, the schooling, the practice, the patience… yes patience for it to be the right time for me to step up into a job that required so much of me. It required all of me, for the men, the staff and the safety of the community.
I was riding in a little two-door car on a sunny Saturday afternoon. I was going to adopt a kitty with my then fiance’ … a Tahoe hit the side of the vehicle I was riding in. I hung on to some semblance of a life for three more years until my doctor had me medically removed from my job. It was over. Fibromyalgia won. (Or so I thought.)
I have learned patience. I have learned acceptance. Life is not a race. There is no loser or winner. There are many paths to take to get you to where you need to be. I am in charge of me. In real life, you don’t get to act without taking responsibility for those actions. How I react is my chosen superpower. I control how I react. I have chosen to pause with patience.
When you realize you must pause before speaking, you give yourself time to re-assess the situation, the outcome, the volume with which you will speak. This is the ultimate tool for feeling some kind of control in the world you now live in. A world that may feel very out of control at times.
I would just ask that you try it, pause.