Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

I Don’t Have Time

Why, during the last few weeks of every year, do I feel as though I can’t catch up with myself? I rush from place to place and project to project hoping to cross one more item off the holiday to-do list. I forget more than remember and I talk more than listen.

I convince myself I don’t have time for a spontaneous cup of coffee with a friend, an extra few minutes of (much-needed) sleep, or another chapter of that spellbinding book.

The reality is, I don’t have time because time has me.

Without intentionally doing so, I give the tick-tock of time that kind of power over me. Why do I let this happen? When did this start? Do other people struggle to satisfy time expectations like I do?

I shudder to think how familiar these questions are. I asked them years ago because I thought I had a drinking problem and issues with food and body image when, in fact, alcohol, scales, and mirrors had me. I manipulated and rationalized everything to avoid treatment or well-considered amends or self-care. I thought I didn’t have time for such things until my time almost ran out.


With barely a moment to spare, I found the kind of help I desperately needed. During those early days, I begged for time to create the kind of life I have today.

In that process, I found out why time is a precious commodity and must be respected as such.

The idea that I don’t have time is as dangerous for me as a drink of alcohol or fork unfilled. I cannot allow myself to believe that time is an enemy with the power to determine what I’m capable of or what my priorities are.

If that’s where I am today, something needs to change and that something is my perspective.

Thank goodness I have a proven, practical experience solution for what keeps me from a healthy life. I must become willing to let go of the must-do’s and should’s and expectations so I can be present for people, situations, and things that truly matter.

If I slow down, step back, and breathe deep, I’ll find plenty of time to:

  • Listen
  • Offer a hug
  • Hold a door
  • Reach for the hand needing reassurance
  • Make that phone call, write that letter, or knock on that door
  • Spend a few extra minutes with a newcomer to recovery
  • Tell people who matter that they do
  • Walk slower
  • Ask for help
  • Breathe deeper
  • Get quiet
  • Look up

Perhaps the problem isn’t that I don’t have time, but that I forget how much time means to me.

A Moment to Breathe

How often do you hear yourself say that you don’t have time? Whether said out loud or in the silence of your mind, the story you tell yourself about how much time you have often proves harrowing. Take a deep breath and consider how you navigate your time. Do you feel spontaneously free to accept an unexpected opportunity, or over-scheduled and exhausted? If the latter seems more realistic for you, perhaps a shift in perspective is necessary. Remember, your time is yours and thus, only you will ever have the power to choose how that time is allocated. Now, take another slow deep breath and rewrite today’s plan that will suit you and your peace of mind.

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13 thoughts on “I Don’t Have Time

  1. Brilliant. Nice turn of words, too… “The reality is, I don’t have time because time has me.” Many can relate, I’m sure!! Best to you, Alison and have a nice New Year. – DDM

  2. Your words of encouragement are always a true compliment. Thank you, Dan, for unending support. Stay warm! My best to you today and every day. Cheers!

  3. Lovely to read and remember, Alison. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

  4. Thank you, Norm. Appreciate the fact you told yourself that you, in fact, did have time to read what I wrote. Cheers for a happy and healthy New Year!

  5. Marlene on said:

    I have been thinking of you and how much I miss the weekly chats. It takes alot of lists and running the timer for 15 minute segments of time to help me stay focused. There is always a 15minute segment every hour that I sit to make sure I keep focused on doing something for me. May your coming days be peaceful….

  6. Thank you, Marlene. You are right, breaking the day down into manageable increments is key to a balanced life. I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday and may 2017 bring peace and good health.

  7. Clare Lesak on said:

    I love this! Good read for me today.

  8. Steve Mandel on said:

    So true. I feel the same way

  9. Thank you for this one, Alison. Needed to read this.

  10. Hello Alison
    Could you tell me precisely how you recovered in your eating disorder.
    I have both alcholism and eating disorder. 3 years recovery in Alcohol .
    So I would love you to tell me how you recovered in your eating disorder, so I can do it too .

  11. Sandra,

    First, I commend you for reaching out. That was not easy for me so I know, firsthand, the courage you gathered to post this comment.

    To answer your question, the first thing I did was get honest with someone I trusted about what was going on with the food and body image issues that plagued me. Then, I sought proper help from professionals with experience in the eating disorder recovery process.

    As you know, there is a solution for any struggle, not the solution that works for everyone. What proved most important was that I remained (and still remain) willing to change and take the suggested actions steps that led to the freedom from obsession I longed for.

    I hope this helps to encourage your next step.

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