Eight weeks


How different eight little weeks, and the speed with which they pass, can feel depending on the place you find yourself in life.

For a man struggling every day, every minute, with sobriety, eight weeks is an eternity – but almost an unbelievable one (to the degree that he has been fearful to even count or keep track consciously). And each little milestone (being able to claim two months!) feels like a major triumph, but also comes with a possible downside. Like all lifelong ‘afflictions’, it’s forever. It’s something he lives with that must be maintained and nurtured with great care and consideration. He may be sober but never free of the label, the disease, the temptation.

Eight weeks feels like a very long time: each of the days passing not hour by hour but minute by minute. Each day packed with AA meetings, work and gym-going (or whatever fills those minutes) and the slowing evening more difficult, staring at the clock while the minutes pass until the stores that sell alcohol finally close. (All these themes appear at length in David Foster Wallace‘s Infinite Jest, which I’ve been slogging my way through for days; the addiction parts are by far the most interesting.) It’s a safety net, knowing he can’t get anything if he suddenly fell into despair. Eight weeks, eight days, eight hours, eight minutes. Everything broken down to the smallest parts, anything to make the time go faster.

Meanwhile, for a newly pregnant woman, if she is even 100% sure she is pregnant at eight weeks, time is almost accelerated. At eight weeks, she has barely accepted the reality but is in a race with time if she, for example, intends to terminate the pregnancy. Many places have a 12-week cutoff point (at which point she could still terminate but needs special permission from her doctor or a panel of doctors), and while one would imagine that the four weeks in between eight and twelve weeks is a whole month, it’s never quite that simple.

She has a massive, life-changing decision to make. She may be in denial. She may even attempt to schedule an appointment to terminate, but even that can take time. Again it depends on where in the world she is. (It could be that depending on the stage of the pregnancy, the abortion will cost more; in the US many states don’t have abortion facilities at all, making the whole ordeal that much more challenging.) Eight weeks into a pregnancy, it’s already so well underway – like two months have already slipped away sneakily, almost without her conscious knowledge. And she wishes for anything that could make the time go slower.

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