Sorry I’m Late

by Jamie Williams
Sorry I'm Late

Dear who I’m late for,

I’m sorry you’re mad, I really am. It’s happening again and I know how much you hate anyone being late for you. Trust me, that’s all I’m thinking about as I scramble to meet you.

My excuse? There isn’t one. I wish I could begin to explain the process I’ve been through just to get going, but I don’t know where to start. It’s all just a blur to me right now; my OCD isn’t an excuse for why I’m late for you today, but it is the reason.

I get you don’t understand: you manage to be on time for everything and everyone, so I should be too. I don’t really understand it either, apart from that I’m not like you and I’ve spent the vast majority of my life feeling incredibly guilty for that very reason; hating myself didn’t help me very much.

15 minutes late is a huge inconvenience for you: I get that. When I’m an hour late, I understand that look of anger you throw at me as I walk in the room; I’ve been dreading that the whole time. I empathise with you, but I won’t pretend your inconvenience today is even the slightest bit comparable to living with OCD.

Ironically, I hate being late. I feel awful right now. I’m seriously hating whoever invited the concept of time. I’m mad at myself for letting this get on top of me, yet again. I’m angry because I promised myself I’d be on time today. I’m beyond frustrated at how this illness is controlling every element of my life. I wanted to prove to you (and myself) I can do this, but here I am: out of control and late, again. I’m anxious because of your reaction and what you must think of me, making me even more OCD and, ironically, even more late. My mind is spinning in chaos and all I want to do is turn back around and go home to bed; but I’m still on my way to you anyway. 

Do you want to know how many times I’ve contemplated suicide just to avoid the anger I fear from you? ‘If I just jump in front of this train, I won’t have to deal with this anymore, will I?’. I don’t mean it – it’s just an intrusive thought associated with the bully that makes me late: my OCD. Thankfully I’ve learnt that life is more important than a symptom. As am I. I’m so much more than my inability to be on time right now, even if that’s what you’d define me by. I accept myself as I am in this very moment, but sure I’m doing all I can to get to the stage I don’t feel like I’m in a state of chaos every time I have to be somewhere at a specified time. It’s a daily struggle; a horrible battle.

I wanted you to know that I really do respect you and your time; if this was out of disrespect then surely I just wouldn’t turn up? I also want you to know that this isn’t personal; I’m unintentionally late for everyone. I’ve been late for billionaires, royalty, friends, family, my favourite person ever (my dad), and now you. 

30 minutes late for me is really trying to get my OCD under control. If I didn’t care at all, I wouldn’t leave the house. Do you realise how easy it’d be to just fuck the world and jump back into bed? I’ve stopped doing that now, so however late I am today it still feels like I miracle when I arrive.

Before you ask, I’ve tried turning my clock forward to trick my mind (if only life was that simple) and getting up earlier just provides me with yet more time to be anxious. I now even have alarms ringing at each stage of my day to remind me to leave my mind and move on, but still the compulsions are so strong I couldn’t help but be beaten this time. Rest assured I’m making progress though – that’s why I take medication and receive therapy. Please can we just let this slip for now?

OCD acts like an addiction – an addiction to behaviours, compulsions and routines. As much as I’d love to be on time, how can I predict when it’ll strike? It’s impossible to plan for, I just have to learn coping strategies for the inevitable. I wish it were as easy as ‘just ignoring it’, but try telling a drug addict to ignore the line of cocaine you put in front of them; the urge is indescribable, and I’m sorry I’m not always strong enough to say no. 

I know I let myself down (thanks for reminding me), but I’m not lesser because of it. I am only human. I have quirks. Sometimes my behaviours are really weird. This is me. OCD is a huge part of my life and who I am – it’s there in every action, conversation and moment – though I’m constantly striving to grow and channel this into making me happier and healthier. I may have lost a battle today, but I am slowly getting there and working towards the day we can celebrate when I’m early (it feels weird to even type that word!)

I’m now arriving and I just wanted to say I’m sorry again and thank you for being patient with me. I know you think this is a massive failure on my part – I do too right now – though when I take a step back, I’m actually quite proud of myself for fighting through. I may be late, but I’m here. My mind would’ve loved to make me give up fighting, but I didn’t want to do that; thankfully I’m stubborn and still waking up each and every day determined to make progress. Sure I have many days when everything overloads and I feel hopeless and depressed, but today isn’t one of those days; today is the day I wanted to show the universe that however hard life may be, I won’t give up without a fight.

Apologies again and again, and again (and again) x

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