It’s interesting to see how many people view the New Year as a new slate. It isn’t just another day that we wake up to but another chapter of life’s book.
One of the first things I heard after midnight on the 1st was a guy leaving the building I was in declaring that ‘I haven’t had a cigarette since last year!‘. A totally expected and cheesy joke, but it made everyone laugh.
I have always seen new days as new chapters. From 00.00 to 23.59, one block. Once is hits midnight, the whiteboard is wiped clean. This probably comes from our concepts of time and the use of calender’s. Instead of living in a continuously flowing world where each moment is different to the last, the sun setting and rising again is classed as one segment of time. This has provided me stability when it comes to managing my time and weekly schedule, however it has also made my life very difficult indeed. I grew up with pretty bad OCD, and it was only last year that I learned the term for one of these struggles at therapy. Contamination.
I was under the impression that contamination was just a fear of getting sick and the constant need to be clean. It turns out that it is also a mental phenomena. When I was a kid and through my teens and early twenties, I had to get out of bed with a good thought. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get out of bed until I had a good one. If I got out of bed on a bad thought, or the first thought I had after midnight (the start of a new day) was a negative one, I wouldn’t enjoy the day until it was over. On New Years Eve in 2005, this happened and because it was the start of the year, it wasn’t just the day I contaminated but the whole year of 2006. I had a bunch of anxiety at this moment, worried that this negative feeling would last 365 days. Thankfully it didn’t but the feeling of contamination did keep flaring up throughout the year and I still remember it over a decade later. The danger here is that it can keep getting worse if I keep reacting to OCD thoughts. A day ruined can be a year, and then a decade. During the hardest moments of my life with the condition, if I won the lottery on a day that I felt I contaminated with a negative thought (such as a bad thing happening to a family member or me doing something pretty immoral for whatever reason) I wouldn’t enjoy the incredible wealth I just gained. And I know at this time I most definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Mental illness is that strong.
But I really wanted to write today’s post about how many people see 2017 as a train that has departed as they jumped onto the 2018 one that has just arrived onto the platform.
‘Bye 2017, you won’t be missed!’
‘So long 2017, I am going to make sure 2018 is one to remember’
‘Lets make 2018 even better than 2017 was, bring on the new chapter!’
It seems we all put time periods into separate boxes. This can be a great thing I guess, as it helps us to disassociate with a negative past. A bit like a crabs ability to completely remove a damaged claw, we can mentally detach from a whole year, despite it only being two days ago. It just gets problematic when OCD creeps into it I guess.
Was yours a 2017 you were happy to leave behind, or a train you wanted to stay on? Thankfully we are on the same train all the time, there is just an illusion that we aren’t.