Why is that broken clock on your wall?

Christopher Woodward“A broken clock is right twice a day.”
By Christopher Woodward, LMAC, Substance Abuse Specialist

September is National Recovery Month. The aim of this month is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

If you have been to the HPC office, you know that the clock on the wall has been broken for about two years. That’s weird, right? Why would you have a broken clock in your office for two years? Well to be honest it never really bothered me all that much. I knew it was broken and didn’t tell time. But it was right twice a day! I just left it up and didn’t address it.

For me, the broken clock was not a problem… more of an inconvenience. However, to everyone else it was more of a problem. Were they late? Did they fall asleep? Others that came in seemed to question it. Some would look up confused like the broken clock was some hidden camera show or a trick.  After a while, I started to notice the reactions of people. Some look up and scowl, some would get confused and disoriented, some would look at the clock and look at me and just choose not to say anything.


National Recovery MonthIn recovery, some of us leave broken clocks on the wall. We have persons, places and playthings around us that don’t work all the time. We have things on the walls of our life that we don’t need any more or that don’t benefit our recovery.

For example, keeping contacts in our phones for people that we know are using or we have used with. Keeping pictures of past “good times” in our camera roll. Not cleaning out our drawers and our hiding spots, so that we can find something that might get us in trouble or turn us back towards a lapse or a relapse.

Other people in our lives see the broken clock on the wall and can become frustrated by it. They become consumed by the question of why would that person hang on to a behavior, relationship or thought that no longer works? Hanging broken clocks is much like holding onto a relationship that we know isn’t healthy and seems to be holding us back from our recovery goals. And that unhealthy relationship is often like a clock that’s only right twice a day.

Taking Down the Broken Clock

Broken ClockMy recovery work is to take down the clock and work on it, to see what is defective about it. Is it the gear box? Does it need a battery… or is it beyond repair? Just like in treatment, we examine it. In this case, the clock in the office was beyond repair, so I had to take it down and find a new place for it, right? No, I had to separate myself from the clock, put it in the trash and move on.  Much is the same with recovery, examining why I don’t need the broken things of my past to be hanging on the walls of my life for all to see is a deep and difficult path. But once the old clock is gone and a new one is in place, my soul feels renewed… Open to new adventures where I don’t have to explain the broken clock on the wall.