Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Life moving on

 In responding to last week's post, a friend noted that the "pause" helps them stay in awareness rather than automatic response mode. If (and that's still a big "if" for me) I can pause, no matter the situation, I can ask myself "What else might be true?" instead of the story I'm telling myself. This makes me think of a moment of judgment I was in at the grocery store a few years ago, related to the cashier's appearance and demeanor. As we chatted, they shared about their two adopted special needs kids, and what a joy it was when those kids had a success at school. I can forgive myself for my sometimes-petty nature, and remember, always, that all is not what it may seem on the surface.

A friend and I are planning a big trip next April, and this week got together with another friend who's had that experience, gleaning advice and direction. That friend talked about her own unexpected psychic rearrangement on the journey and suggested that while we may have an idea of what we hope to gain, it would be good to try to stay open to whatever may actually happen.

Ah yes - plan, but don't plan results, especially in the realm of the heart. I think of my very limited vision when I first got sober. All I really wanted was to get my boyfriend back. It was several years before I understood that I couldn't have stayed sober in that relationship and thank you HP that he didn't return. As I've heard, it doesn't have to feel good to be good, and I certainly don't have all the information when I'm operating from my emotions. 

I think about several folks who say they've lost their sense of purpose as they've retired, or simply gotten older. I could debate "purpose" as I've strived to disentangle myself from the notion that productivity equals worth, but have very rarely felt adrift at this stage. Or invisible, as some of my peers describe. I don't get the same kind of masculine attention I might've 20 years ago, but thank God! And I've had male friends speak to the gift now that the libido no longer runs the show. As a friend reminds, we are mammals, with generally predictable life stages of maturing, the child-bearing capability years, and the decline/aging. How will I embrace the time I have left, including the odd feeling of having outlived my father?

 This week I signed up to walk the Portland Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in October. Maybe it was related to my dad, but as I filled in my bib message of "Happy 70 Bday," I started to cry - gratitude? Wonderment at being this age? The disbelief as I grow old with friends I've had since grade school?  And maybe related to this year anniversary of cancer treatment? Whatever - I can feel the feelings and let them linger or move on through, as the case may be. 

I ran the full marathon for my 60th birthday, with spectators singing "Happy Birthday" along the course. Hard to believe that was 10 years ago now, which is a huge reminder to be present and pay attention, because the next 10 will likely go as quickly. Years ago I read "It's Only Too Late if You Don't Start Now" (B. Sher). Is there anything I'm putting off for the elusive "later?" As I've heard over and over again - If not now, when?  

I frequently pass by my high school going to and from errands. This week I drove by at lunch time, passing groups of boys in twos and fives. I could tell the cool kids from the not, as well as the stark difference between what must've been freshmen and seniors. Oh those 9th graders looked so young, making me think of how young and immature we were when drinking ourselves silly at the local park. Babies, though I certainly didn't think so at the time. 

Observing the obvious maturity in the 12th graders as compared to their underclassmen also made me think of how we come into the rooms - often still dressed like the street urchins or barroom drunks that we were, bouncing off the walls with the half-filled coffee cup so's not to spill. And then, over time, the spinning top slows down and we/I began to dress my age, act more my age (ha - that's debatable) and settle in to this sober life - still fun, but not quite as frenzied. And then, one day, I realized that the sober life was simply my life, and that my AA friends were simply my friends. Today, gratefully, we speak of aging sober and the challenges, or rather, opportunities inherent in experiencing loss, whether those we love, or our own physical or mental capabilities. With program, we need not walk this path alone.

How do you strengthen your ability to pause? Whatever your particular calendar age, what did you imagine that to feel like compared to how it actually is? How do you both stay in the moment and take care of yourself for the long run? And happy May Day, the ancient European marker of the halfway point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. Enjoy!

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Ready for an inventory or small group discussion? Check out my workbook "I've Been Sober a Long Time - Now What?" with 78 pages of topics, member's views, and processing questions. (See the Jan 13, 2023 post for a sample.) Available in PDF format ($12.95) for those of you outside the US (or who prefer that format) or hardcopy ($19.95 mailed to you). Email me at with questions.  You can order from the WEB VERSION of this page, payment link on top right. Note that the workbook is also available at Portland Area Intergroup at 825 NE 20th 

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