I’m a patient man but I fought too hard for my life to walk on eggs for anyone all the time (back to this in a minute). I was held up and shot in the head in 1984 and live with the bullet lodged in my brain. The bullet tore a path that extended more than half way through the frontal lobe.
Surviving that, as you might imagine, requires you fight like hell for your life.
Along with my brain injury, the shooting experience contributed to a formidable PTSD presence in my life. For me, PTSD means certain events, sounds, smells, situations, and so on, cause flashbacks and flooding. Flooding means a particular emotion or emotional condition has overwhelmed the person’s in-the-moment experience. Stopping it on a dime is impossible. In my case the emotional condition most likely to flood is terror.
Knowing I’m safe intellectually doesn’t stop the terror. It takes hours for the terror to subside.
Okay. The egg thing, patience, and willpower. Some years ago my friend (and in my heart, my brother) Dane Arnold, said, “You’re too patient with people.” Trust me, he said that to me more than once and he was right almost every single time. I’d be allowing someone to take advantage of me in one way or another, giving them chance after chance, when I should’ve cut them loose.
I rented a room in my lower east side apartment and one of my tenants was horrible about paying rent, cleaning up after herself in any of the common rooms. She had a marked talent for the woe-is-me ballad. So, I let things drag on until I finally realized she’d mastered the ballad but never lived the experience. The switch, as they say, flipped, and the she was out.
There are times people think patience, or, as the more common saying goes, niceness, is a sign of weakness. I can think of no bigger myth. One of the gifts getting shot in the head gave me is the awareness that the following paragraph describes an experience that underscores the active presence of willpower
Here’s the experience:
I am lying on the ground bleeding to death. I’ve been shot in the head and the top of my head’s been blown off. I can’t feel anything below my neck. I’m blind. It’s around five in the morning on a residential street, it is dark and no one is out. I am alone and I know it. A few moments later I realize I’m standing up. My vision is back and I’m connected to my body again but I have no memory of standing up. But the truth is, I did. And I was alone.
I may still be too patient with people at times. You see, I know a lot of people who’ve been pulverized by life so badly trusting those around them is a steep climb. An impossible climb for some, sad to say. But before I disengage, I’d like to know I I did all I could. Sometimes too much, perhaps.
Thing is, I’d rather be guilty of being too patient than not patient enough.