Confessions of a Chronophobic: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

Apr 12, 2021 | Robin Bond | |


I have chronophobia, which is the fear of time passing too quickly. Is this rational, you ask? No (I answer). 

The Cleveland Clinic defines chronophobia as the fear of time passing. It can cause “severe anxiety, feelings of dread, obsessive behaviors and depression. People who are elderly, ill or imprisoned are more likely to develop this anxiety disorder.”

It can be treated through talk therapy if you have that kind of time.

I do not fear the passage of time in an “Im-gonna-die-soon” way but in a Ben Franklin “if thou dost love life, do not squander time” kind of way. Thou dost love life! And all its fascinations. But there are too many things that must be done. In honesty, there are too many things I want to do, that I was meant to do.

I was born two weeks late. Shit, I was already behind. I would gain back some of the time I’d squandered lolling around in the womb by graduating early from college and plunging head-first into a PR career when I was barely 21. I would live life trying to beat the clock. 

I can sleep when Im dead” was my battle cry. In 1984, my muse Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders belted out the song “Time The Avenger” and it became my anthem.

Thought that time was on your side,

Its time the avenger.

Nobodys permanent,

Everything is on loan here.

Was time my avenger? Was I trying to avenge time? The song is actually about a man who cheats on his family—it was not relevant in any way to the constant tick-tock in my head— but it had a groovy beat that went with my aesthetic at the time. 

With coffee and adrenaline, I moved through a deadline-driven career in journalism, marketing and TV/video production. 

And then the gift of motherhood in my thirties changed me for the better. 

When I went into labor with my first daughter, I was at my desk tapping out the last of a federal proposal that was due by 5 p.m. The last proposal section, “Addendum A: Explanation of Work Samples,” alternated with me jotting down the intervals and intensity of my contractions on a piece of scrap paper. “Not bad, 10 minutes apart”. By the time I typed my transmittal letter, the words, “Dear Procurement Officer, it is with great…” alternated with “FUCK ME!!!!!!! 8 MIN.” Both the proposal and the baby were delivered on time, damn the torpedos.

Two days later, my husband and I were back home with a real live baby, and nothing was ever the same. Time ceased to exist as I marveled at my baby’s first smile (probably just gas). 

Twelve weeks of unpaid maternity leave flew by, and I called my boss at 9 a.m. the Monday I was to return to work to say I wouldn’t be back. I would be busy for at least the next year trying to fit in with stay-at-home moms and leisurely playing the ‘What dat?’ game in the aisles of Safeway with my little miracle.

I’m not gonna lie, I worked from home here and there when baby Taryn started napping, a way to self-soothe after another weird MOPs playdate. I’d write a press release here, a video script there. 

But for a while, I had no goals save potty-training my darling at age two so she could start tap-dancing lessons (her idea) by her third birthday. Dammit, there was that time thing again.

I was born to be a mother; when I die “mother” should be the sole job title on my gravestone. Still, one day I woke up and realized that my baby girls—two of them now—would be heading off to school soon, and I hadnt even started a company yet

Um, what? 

Robin Bond Media, LLL flourished, but the tick-tock in my head became the thunderous beat of a kick drum, louder and more ominous than the heartbeat under Poe’s floorboards.  

I was born to run a video production company. And be a mother. If that meant writing a proposal at midnight or editing scripts at 5 a.m., that would have no impact on the kindergarten performance I would attend at 11 a.m. or my turn driving the dance carpool at 5 p.m. Nothings gonna give! I vowed. Especially not the misinformed mantras that reinforced my unhealthy behaviors.

Something did give, in the form of my marriage, although it takes two to divorce. I tried to make up for the chaos visited upon my children by putting 200% effort into the 50% of the time that I got to spend with them (joint custody)—all while running a company that was running me. Along the way, I fell in love, remarried and acquired a bonus daughter.

The girls survived and thrived, or so I thought at the time. Today I see more clearly my flawed thinking—and the fallout. And the girls, all in their twenties, are a little more driven than they need to be. Just sayin.’

My company, which I loved less than my children but with a burning passion, gifted me and my colleagues adventures, relationships and beautiful films that I will always be proud of. Sadly, I ”chose” to divest myself of Robin Bond Media after six years for one of those full-time corporate job-things, for matters personal (health insurance) and practical (health insurance). 

New bullshit mantra: “I’m a martyr, I will give up my dreams to pursue a happy, peaceful, functional life for my blended family.” Spoiler alert: none of those things materialized. I learned that trying to force a blended family that was not meant to be was the equivalent of pushing a square peg into a round hole. Robin Bond Media had been the happiest and most rewarding part of my career—I still cry over the loss—and my new, prestigious corporate communications job was a shit-show.

When it was time for to girls to leave the nest, I would have sold my soul to the devil for more time. I was still working, of course, but not enough to drown out the slowing drumbeat of life as it morphed into heartbreak. The bulk of my time was drudgery, rife with insecure middle managers and shallow ladder-climbing colleagues, seemingly  without an ounce of creativity or goodwill. I was aching to go build something. It was time to write that book that was always going to happen after I became wildly rich and successful. And I wanted to start publishing my personal articles and blogs—hundreds of stories written over a decade, more for my catharsis than for an audience. (Where had I find THAT kind of time?) 

I just needed to figure out the financial piece, which I had definitely not mastered over the years. I felt calm but excited and forged ahead, balancing a full-time freelance writing schedule where I was well-compensated as a technology writer, with my mission of telling my personal stories of love, loss, laughter and learning. My tech-writing gig meant we could cover high-quality health insurance — non-negotiable since my husband had been diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer — although I never did get good at managing the money piece of life. 

The doctor gave Ron a sentence of two to five years. No condolences needed, we are year eight and he is still (mostly) enjoying quality of life. Ron and I traded the suburbs of Denver for a wooded cabin in a holler near Asheville, NC. Closer to family and friends – and to my parents who were declining mentally at a relatively early age. Once I adjusted to mom’s rapid descendent through the stages of Alzheimer’s, which was consistent with the demise of her own mother and other women in our family, I realized, based on genetics, I may be running out of time. It’s possible Mom’s Alzheimer’s had been early onset – starting before the age of 65, and I could be down to a few years before my daughters would have to endure – under much harder circumstances – the tough road my sister and I had caring for our parents who refused to be cared for until it was almost too late.

What I did next.. is in Part 2 of this blog series, “Confessions of a Chronophobic: My Alzheimer’s Odyssey.”

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Robin Bond


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