I’ve never been able to cope with the passing of time and over the years this single fact has got me into so much trouble I can barely even describe it. When I make a decision or don’t follow my heart or even occasionally when I feel I’ve made the RIGHT decision, I still absolutely yearn to go back and do things differently. It’s like a sort of emotional heartbreak and without any exaggeration, I find it practically impossible to cope with. For me, chronophobia (or the fear of time) is very real.
Getting people to understand has always been an uphill struggle. I think if I was an extremely obvious case (like poor Norman in the second series of Jonathan Creek, who had a house full of clocks without hands so he wouldn’t feel time passing) then my problem might be better communicated but sadly – like many of my personal hangups – I hide it exceptionally well.
To be clear, there are people scattered like detritus through the ruins of my past who actually DESPISE me because I was unable to communicate the simple fact that I’m unable to leave anything unsaid or unexplored. I’ve said things to people that I will regret forever just because there is a rising panic in me to get everything said. EVERYTHING. Before it’s too late.
It started at school, when I was seven. My mum had taken me to the dentist for a really unpleasant appointment and when we got out she offered me the choice of either going home with her or going back to school. I chose to go back to school and have always regretted it because I went on to have the worst afternoon of my childhood. The decision I made still keeps me awake now. Think about that. I’m 43, married and have two children.
My son has the same issues (though in this age of increasing tolerance and investigation he’s been given far better support for them). When he was at primary school, a teacher came up with an inspired solution for getting him to finish his work on time (which had been a problem for him): she suggested putting an egg timer on the end of the desk when there was just a few minutes of the lesson left.
‘I’m not sure that would be a good idea,’ I said, remembering that the mere mention of a countdown to get him out of the door had often produced the sort of chaos that even the Avengers would have trouble sorting out. I used to employ the old and trusted method of counting back from ten when we were late for the school run until it suddenly dawned on me that this was stupidly cruel and was more like a targeted punishment than a simple trick for speeding things up. As it turned out, I literally never found a way to speed him up and he still seems to make it to school on time at his own tortoiselike pace.
My own school days are another enormous source of regret.
I live almost constantly in the past and have a love for nostalgia that borders on longing: I organized my secondary (high) school reunion and am unquestionably the most regular contributor to the group, which is hilarious in itself as I felt – and was – practically invisible actually during school. I try very hard to get close to the people who at least saw me every day during my teenage years just so that I can find out who I was back then; I myself have no idea.
I spent my childhood in choose your own adventure books and the fighting fantasy series, constantly flicking back through the book to see what the OTHER path was like. I’m not someone for who the grass is always greener on the other side…but I need to have stood there and felt it beneath my feet to properly feel that I’ve lived.
I hate it.
It’s a curse.
It can be restricting and suffocating.
It can make me cancel plans and reschedule them.
It caused me to fail SO many tests at school: the panic I felt inside during every exam was close to mindblowing: I would sit silently staring at the questions but playing through a series of nightmare scenarios in my head and all the time the clock was so deafeningly loud it might as well have been on my desk. Inside my head, I was always screaming for help….but no help ever came. It’s nobody’s fault: I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I couldn’t really communciate it to anyone else.
These days, I can look at all the situations and say – quite confidently – I know what that beast is called. Nevertheless, it continues to stalk me.
The Fear of Time was written by Davey Stone on 22nd April, 2021 and finished at exactly 2.15pm. This last part is understandably important, considering the content. If you enjoyed reading The Fear of Time please consider following the blog. Thank you for reading The Fear of Time.