Hurry Up and Wait

This morning while life was unfolding with all the chaos that two little kiddos bring, my husband was moving slower than I would have liked. My lower self had to tell him so. His response was golden; he gently asked me if I was aware that people with PTSD often think other people are lazy?

My husband continued the conversation by citing his sources and informing me that it is a real thing, not something he was just making up to respond to my impatience. I was impressed and intrigued.

One of the blessings of my journey is that I haven’t been alone with my feelings or struggles for over a decade. The community that surrounds me is filled with those who have both been where I have been but also those who are just starting their journey. Whatever I cannot see in myself, I can certainly see in someone else.

As my mind went over the people I know, who certainly believe that others are lazy, my husband’s words made complete sense. He was right – this was a common occurrence in my circle of friends. I had to concede that I often think other people are lazy, a thought that is easily justified by my friends. But why?

When I try to deduce my impatience to a single cause, the first thing that comes to mind is that time simply moves differently since my trauma. Hypervigilance has gifted me with an internal clock that seldom falters.

However, this clock seems to run a few seconds faster than everyone else’s. Add the need to control my environment, my aversion to being late, and my desire for consistency, and behold; a woman with little patience for deviations or perceived “slowness” emerges.

Mindfulness, controlled breathing, exercise, creative outlets like – crocheting or painting, and drinking cold water, all are good tools to keep me grounded and present, but what can I do combat impatience? Furthermore, what can I do to halt judgment of laziness in others?

My musings were interrupted by the fact both our kids had swim lessons fast approaching and we had no plan for the day. After some discussion with my husband, we decided that I will take our daughter, who has the later lesson, and my husband will take our son who has the earlier lesson

Our morning conversation had me keenly aware of my desire to manage my husband’s time, as he appeared to look at a different hypothetical clock than I altogether. I decided to attend an online social with some friends to pass the time and keep my judgment at bay.

As my son’s swim lesson was fast approaching, he was still watching tv downstairs. While my husband was taking his sweet time in the shower. Meanwhile, my daughter was standing next to me fully dressed in her swim gear, including goggles, watching me talk to my friends on zoom. Her impatience was profound, and I couldn’t help but giggle to myself as I did not have to wonder who she inherited it from.

Fifteen minutes until the start time of my son’s swim lesson, I decided to remind my husband of the time and suggested that it may take more than ten minutes to drive there. Then I took a deep breath and tried with all my might to resist even thinking of the word “lazy.”

Six minutes before the start time of our son’s swim lesson, my husband leisurely left, unconcerned about being late. I had to take a second and ask myself if I was jealous of his calm nature? I decided I was not. A few minutes later, I was out the door with our daughter for her swim lesson. We arrived five minutes before our daughter’s lesson. A full thirty minutes after my son’s swim lesson started. I had no doubt in my mind that my husband and son had arrived late.

As I thought about the seemingly antagonistic actions of my husband, I remembered how my therapist had told me that some people go faster when anxious and others go slower. That my husband was of the type that goes slower. I am the type that goes faster. I laughed out loud at the irony that we ended up together.

Turns out my husband had the wrong time in his head. He gracefully admitted his error and we both found the gratitude – that even though we fall on different ends of the time management spectrum, together we even out to normal speed.

Reflecting on the morning’s events brought me to an interesting place of acceptance. There is no one answer or reason for why we are the way we are. PTSD may make people more impatient or perhaps impatient people are more likely to take risks that may result in trauma. The how and why don’t matter as much as the outcomes which are directly related to our willingness to meet people where they are at.

Today, I will work on meeting people where they are, not where I’d like them to be. I don’t need to re-wire my tightly wound inner workings to play well with others if I am willing to let go of outcomes. My impatience doesn’t need to turn to judgment. If nothing else, I can hurry up and wait.

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