A guest post by my niece Kayla. Started as a short post to celebrate a milestone, this post contains insights and wisdom on time, recovery, and ambiguity.
Here is how this blog post came to be. I posted what I thought was a simple statement to celebrate 8 years without drugs (posted below). Within hours the likes, and loves, and messages of support came pouring in. I had never seen numbers like that on my Facebook, I had never thought that many people would care about what I had accomplished. Then my Uncle Gryph suggested I turn it into a blog post. Wearily I agreed to think about it (the weariness goes back to the not thinking people would care about my journey). So here I am writing this. And here is the original post:
“Time is just an abstract concept. It seems to change as we go. Sometimes it’s slow and drags on, other times it whizzes by in the blink of an eye. But today, for me, time is concrete and measurable. 8 years. 2,922 days. That is the amount of time since I chose life. But it’s more than that. It’s the amount of time it’s taken me to come this far. To go from someone who couldn’t think more than 5 minutes ahead, to someone who has a ten year plan. From someone who didn’t care whether I lived or died, to someone who strives to not only live but thrive. From someone who cared only about myself and how to get my next fix, to someone who has decided to give herself to others as a career, while maintaining myself. 8 years. 2,922 days. That is the amount of time since I began my fight against addiction. To all those who have helped me along the way – even if we no longer talk – I love you and thank you!”
The idea of time is something I often think about. Why do we have time instead of just using the sun and moon as they did not so long ago? Why is there 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour? Who decided a day would be 24 hours? Why didn’t they separate the day into 4 hours and have each hour last for what we consider to be 6 hours? These are the kinds of philosophical thoughts I have, that I have been encourage my whole life to have. I was brought up to question the world, to challenge the status quo, to think about the way we think. And I believe that helped me immensely in my recovery – I was able to look at time differently.
In many recovery programs they teach “one day at a time” – for many this works and is the only thing that gets them through the day. For me, I turned to the fluidity of time to provide comfort. I knew that a single day is but a mere sliver of time in the whole of my existence. Looking back on one day in the whole of my life is like picking one grain of sand from the beach. It is almost nothing. Because of this way of thinking I was able to keep my mind set on the future and acknowledge that because of the fluidity of time I was able to live in the future, today. I lived each day as if I was living in the future I wanted. The future where I was not destroying myself and those who cared about me. Where I was building a life and thriving. Where I did not make decisions based on the past and my damaged way of thinking, but on the future I knew could be.
But every once in a while, particularly when something big has happened (birth, death, anniversaries of all kinds), time becomes concrete. It is a portion of time that has passed. Think back to a significant event that has happened in your life – your birthday, the birth or death of a loved one, the day you got married. Without skipping a beat most of us are able to measure exactly (or pretty close to exactly) how long that has been. It is a concrete amount of time and this time means something to us. It marks how far we have come since then. It marks the struggles and the successes we’ve had since that event. It becomes something we hold on to when there’s nothing left to hold. It is measurable and it matters. For some reason we are able to hold time as both an abstract and concrete idea. Something that is solid and unchanging AND something that is fluid and adjustable. I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand why we are able to do this but every day, especially today, I am grateful for this ability.