Building Accountability Through Punctuality

by | Feb 3, 2016 | Recovery | 0 comments

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The Flash is a well-known superhero. As for how he factors into this article, you’ll just have to continue reading to find out. (dean bertoncelj/Shutterstock)

The Flash is a well-known superhero. As for how he factors into this article, you’ll just have to continue reading to find out. (dean bertoncelj/Shutterstock)

There’s a running joke on The Flash that, despite the titular superhero’s incredible speed, he always seems to be late for everything. Despite his best intentions, protagonist Barry Allen loses a lot of faith from his friends and coworkers due to his perpetual lack of punctuality. And while he at least knows that he’s generally late because he was off saving someone’s life, addicts and alcoholics do not have the benefit of such excuses. When we suffer a blow to our accountability, most people will assume that we were off getting drunk or high.

The worst part is that, in many cases, they were not wrong. We often lacked punctuality during active addiction because we simply put our substance abuse before our obligations. And while we may wish to change this upon entering recovery, it can be hard for some newly sober addicts and alcoholics to build trust with those who are accustomed to holding little faith in us. Punctuality will not cure this problem absolutely, but it will at least be a step in the right direction. This is why we must learn the importance of punctuality in our work lives, our social lives, and even our obligations to our sobriety.

Punctuality in Our Work Lives

Run if you have to. Better yet, devise a routine that ensures you are always running early rather than running late. (Master1305/Shutterstock)

Run if you have to. Better yet, devise a routine that ensures you are always running early rather than running late. (Master1305/Shutterstock)

Needless to say, those who do not work for a living but attend school may apply the following to their academic lives. Either way, work and school are two obligations in which punctuality is incredibly important. If we lose the faith of our deans or employers, we run the risk of losing something very important to our success. Without an education or steady employment, our future will become foggy and uncertain. And it is at this point that we may give up on ourselves and suffer a relapse.

As far as school is concerned, punctuality is about more than simply looking good in front of our classmates and instructors. It’s about being there on time so that we may be prepared when class begins, ready to absorb each and every lesson for the day. This will help us to excel in our assignments, not to mention our major tests for the year. More than that, it will help us to become well-rounded individuals who are capable of intelligent conversation. This leads to advancements in our social lives later on in life, preventing us from experiencing the lives of isolation we led while in active addiction.

Something similar may be said of our work lives. Obviously, the primary motivation for maintaining our punctuality is to keep our jobs. Anyone who’s actually seen The Flash may note that Barry Allen never actually seems to encounter this particular issue—but TV shows about superheroes probably shouldn’t be our benchmark for real-world consequences. Either way, we should also be punctual in our work lives for the purpose of ensuring that we get as much done as possible. When we were in active addiction, we likely didn’t end each day with much sense of accomplishment. In recovery, we have a chance to do that. And once we see that we actually like who we have become, it will help to solidify our dedication to staying sober.

Those who wish to excel in work or school should not consider punctuality to be optional. It is an absolute necessity, something that will help us to thrive as budding professionals in our field of expertise. Accountability is important in the academic and professional worlds, but it is in many ways a secondary concern when compared to our potential to become people who are able to look ourselves in the mirror and feel as if we can be truly proud of the person staring back at us. And while this will take a great deal of hard work and dedication, it begins with punctuality. After all, it’s pretty hard to apply yourself if you aren’t present to do so.

Punctuality in Our Social Lives

How often did we skip minor obligations while in active addiction, all the while failing to account for the feelings of the people with whom we were supposed to be meeting. (itsmejust/Shutterstock)

How often did we skip minor obligations while in active addiction, all the while failing to account for the feelings of the people with whom we were supposed to be meeting? (itsmejust/Shutterstock)

Again, punctuality in this case is actually about more than trust. When we regain the faith that has been lost in us, we will find that our relationships begin to flourish as never before. Our lack of punctuality was only one of many character defects that we likely exhibited before becoming sober, and our newfound accountability will instill in our loved ones a trust that they may have lacked long before the depth of our addiction was revealed to them. As we become more functional and capable individuals, those we love will recognize this and will want to be closer to us.

Whether or not you consider your family to be a part of your social life, it is difficult to admit that there were likely many occasions during your addiction upon which a lack of punctuality might have made it difficult for them to trust you. You are not alone in this. Many of us have missed family gatherings, whether of a casual nature or even on a major holiday. We have been absent for big events such as weddings or funerals. When we enter sobriety, we will likely be racked with guilt over this realization. But the solution is not to beat ourselves up. Instead, the solution is simply to be there in the future. It may take some time, but we will begin to establish trust once we have demonstrated our ability to atone for past mistakes.

Many of us have missed similar events in the lives of our friends, to the extent that some of them may not be our friends anymore. We should endeavor to make amends, but we should bear in mind that not everyone will be inclined to forgive us. There is only so much we can do about this. But when moving forward and trying to make new friends, punctuality is a must. All new relationships must be handled with utmost care if we do not wish to repeat the same mistakes that we have made in the past.

This is not to say that any lack of punctuality on your part will absolutely ruin your new social life. But in the end, it isn’t worth the risk. If you want to be more accountable to both yourself and others, you must be there for friends, family, and romantic interests when you say you will. Remember that many of these people have given us more chances then we probably deserved while we were in active addiction. We may feel as if they owe us something for entering recovery, but this is miles from the truth. We owe them. It is our duty to show them that we understand this, and that we appreciate their company. This effort begins with punctuality. From there, the rest is up to you.

Punctuality in Sober Recovery

Showing up early to meetings gives you a chance to perform a bit of service work by making coffee and talking to the other attendees. (iko/Shutterstock)

Showing up early to meetings gives you a chance to perform a bit of service work by making coffee and talking to the other attendees. (iko/Shutterstock)

There is also a great need for punctuality in our sober lives. After all, it is in recovery that we will begin learning about accountability in the first place. There are a few instances in which we must be present and accounted for, and we must take each of these as seriously as possible. Unlike the above sections, accountability to others is not much of a concern here. This is primarily about being accountable to ourselves.

This is not to say that we don’t still need to be accountable to other people on some level. If a recovery friend is telling their story at a speaker meeting, then we should be in attendance to support them. If our sponsor asks us to be somewhere or do something at a certain time, then we must follow their suggestions. This is especially true if they ask us to perform any measure of service work. We should not be late to meetings, and we should actually try to show up early if we can. This will give us a chance to talk to people, as well as to help out by setting up chairs or making coffee.

All of these things will make you look great in your recovery community, but that is not the point of them. When you build sober accountability through consistent punctuality, you are building your level of care for your home group and the people in it. You are essentially practicing the First Tradition, attaining personal recovery by putting your focus on the unity of the group. Everyone involved will benefit from not only your punctuality, but your sheer presence in a group for which you were willing to demonstrate your appreciation.

In the end, all forms of punctuality will help our sobriety. Being there for friends, family, work and school will solidify our commitment to becoming the best versions of ourselves that we are capable of becoming. In this way, punctuality will allow us to achieve a level of accountability in recovery that has eluded us for years. We will find ourselves steadfastly dedicating our lives to sobriety, solely to experience more of this great feeling that has been instilled in us by the good faith we have gained from others. Much like the Flash, we will be heroes. But the life that we save will be one most dear to us—our own.

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