Wednesday, June 26, 2024

In a blink...

 On one of my morning walks this week, I paused to chat about the weather with a woman watering her garden, Saying she frequently sees me passing by, she wondered how far I walk and was impressed with my answer of "three to five miles." This led to disclosure of my upcoming 70th birthday, to which she replied, "Oh, you're so young!" telling me she's 82 and hopes for another 10 years. We both remarked that if the next 10 goes as fast as the last, we'll exhale a couple of times and be there. 

I suppose it's part of the developmental stage of later adulthood to talk about later adulthood - in awe, complaining, marveling at the passage of time. with so much happening in what seems to be the blink of an eye.  In a blink of an eye, my heroin addicted boyfriend was dead from an overdose. In a blink of an eye, my stepdaughter went from child to young adult. In a blink of an eye my mother went from a tow-headed toddler to a sorority sister to a young, pregnant wife and beyond. And now my cohort is turning 70. In a blink...

And in a few blinks of an eye, I went from shivering denizen to happy, joyous and free, crossing that cavernous divide between "then" and "now." I am still and always impressed at those early members, starting with Bill and Bob, who were essentially navigating in the dark. Imagine being "AA Number 3," the man on the bed in the print hanging on so many meeting and clubhouse walls. Here were two fellows who talked like you thought, and were sober, sparking just a glimmer of hope that life could be different. I sometimes take for granted the hundreds of meetings available to me, forgetting that at the beginning, it was groups of twos and threes gathering in each other's living rooms (while the wives hovered in the kitchen). I think of the ice baths, lobotomies and other efforts at a "cure" and am forever grateful for how the stars aligned to bring AA to life.

A friend recently, brilliantly, pointed out that we don't simply deal with "life on life's terms," but also "people on people's terms." Obviously, but how often do I forget that it's not "life on Jeanine's terms," or "other people on Jeanine's terms?" (cue emoji of woman smacking herself in the forehead) My spouse and I joke that we're both eldest siblings, and both always "right." Funny, yes, when I can remember that me feeling large and in-charge is simply a mental construct, not based on the Universe bestowing that designation on me (ha! that would make my younger brother always "wrong," which he might argue at 66 years old and successfully navigating the world up to this point). Some things do happen in a blink, while others, like the process of self-examination and change can feel like slogging through quicksand. Will I ever learn to pause? Will I ever (fill in the blank that fits for you)? One day at a time, one choice at a time can be a relief, or a "not this again..."

What I've heard is that sometimes the days drag by while the years fly. It took years to relieve the grief over an important relationship ending. It was probably four years before I could think about my deceased mother without crying. It took about six months to stop dreaming at night about work, with the theme of "Oh, I'm no longer in charge!" and probably a full year to think of myself as a walker instead of a runner. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, sometimes in a blink and sometimes with an exhale and sometimes when I least expect it, I will know what I need to know when I need to know it (with the reminder that "figure it out" is not one of the Steps).

We've just entered summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, a time of outdoor music, garden blooms and a longing to sit on a bench or a beach and read good books while eating watermelon. Some days are like that, and some days are filled with tasks, service, a few "have to's" and some "want to's". This sobriety gig is a good life, a very good life. 

How have your conversations with your peers changed as you've gotten older in life and in recovery years? How much has gone by in a blink, and what still can feel like a slog? What do you do when you catch yourself feeling in charge of the world or your loved ones? Where can you utilize the idea of "people of people's terms?"

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I've had some questions about how to purchase the NOW WHAT workbook. You need to go to the WEB VERSION of this blog page for the link on ordering. Please contact me at  or with questions. And a reminder that the workbook, 78 pages of discussion and processing questions, is available at the Portland Area Intergroup at 825 NE 20th. for you local folks.

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