I hate being late. I don’t dislike it; I don’t have a little downer on it; I completely and utterly hate it.
I get hot sweats and a racing heart when it happens. Almost worse is the anticipation of being late – the realisation on the way somewhere that I am going to miss the agreed meeting time. I am almost feeling a little queasy now thinking about it and writing this down.
Why? Why do I feel like that? Why do I get these moments of great anxiety and stress because I may be a few minutes late? Why is it worthy of documenting here?
For me, it goes to the heart of who I am – or who I am not. It is a defining characteristic. It is a fundamental tenet of what it means to be me. It is one way that I am proving to myself that I am not my father.
If you wanted a light-hearted post about being late and comedy cappers of running for trains, planes and automobiles, stop now. This post isn’t for you. This is not John Cleese in Clockwise. BTW, I really hate that film – and to be honest I haven’t got huge amount of time for John Cleese, at least since Fatty Owls.
No, this is a post that explores the concept of what therapists or counsellors sometimes call corrective script. The notion of responding to experiences in your past and compensating for them – trying to ensure that you do not repeat behaviours that you experienced, often because they caused you or others pain. Being late for me is about keeping my word, keeping the promise I made, being reliable.
I’ve shared this because sometime just saying something out loud or writing it down can help – it can help you and it can help others. It may also help some of my friends and family understand why travelling with me may not always be that fun!
Mrs J will tell you – I am a nightmare to travel with. I insist on having a plan; a time of departure, always earlier than needed; extra time built into the journey for unexpected delays; time allowed for fuel stops, toilet breaks and the like. We arrive at the airport in enough time not just to check in and go through security but also to unload the baggage from the previous ten flights and clean several planes! I start pacing the hall floor just before we are due to leave and my anxiety levels are raised; my mood tenser than normal. This routine is part and parcel of what happens when we go anywhere. No matter how hard I try to chill out, calm down, relax and take it easy, I cannot. It took me some time to realise that for me being on time wasn’t a question of punctuality but of morality.
I have given my word that I will be somewhere at a specific time and I will be. I have made a promise and I will keep it. I do it because I can see in my mind’s eye the little boy stood in his Nan’s font bay window in Finch Lane looking up and down the road. Left then right. Right then left. Waiting. Checking the clock. Looking again. Making excuses; ‘maybe there’s been an accident”. Waiting. Heart pounding. Waiting. He’s arrived. At last.
The corrective script, written by me and now deep, deeply embedded within me dictates that I will never be the person who leaves the little boy waiting even if it means that now it stresses me out more than it should.
So, every time now I am stressed about the possibility of being late I stop myself getting annoyed that I am too anal and uptight; I take a step back and am proud that I keep my word.