Well, here I am, spending the last 3 hours in my 50s reflecting on my life. I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking the last couple of weeks. If my brain worked better, I’d probably remember doing this as I approached 30, 40, and 50. Who am I really? What is my purpose for being on this planet and am I fulfilling it? Have I achieved anything with so many more years behind me than ahead of me? Are my actions showing my gratitude for having a third chance at life? (I was given a second chance with my introduction to the rooms of Recovery and yet a third with my surviving breast cancer.)
My sponsor reminded me again this week that I am way too hard on myself. The truth is that I think I need to be. God saw fit to take me from the hellish hole of addiction. I believe I have a responsibility to suit up and show up not only for others, but for myself. Yes, I have been clean for 22 years. Can I honestly say that I have done the best I could working my program? The answer is no. I have been of service in one form or another pretty much from the beginning of my Recovery journey. I think the difference today is that I can now distinguish between those times when I am being of service to other for my own benefit or because it is truly the next right thing to do. I have all kinds of great excuses (I could call them reasons, but then I’d have to call myself out) for not attending more meetings or being more diligent in other areas of my Recovery. On the eve of “seniorhood,” I think it is time to reevaluate my priorities – my Recovery needs to be at the top of the list.
I do know who I am thanks to all kinds of therapies over the years and the step work I have done. I hated myself going into my 30s. I remember because I was still in active addiction. At 40, I was barely getting to know myself. With 18 months clean, I had begun meeting me for the first time. I met 50 with enthusiasm. I knew myself fairly well. I liked, but didn’t love, myself. In many ways, I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. That alone provided a new level of freedom.
Approaching 60 is very different. The last 10 years have been more active and exciting than any of the other decades. I’ve been married and divorced yet again; I moved to a new area of town; I had 3 major surgeries, one for breast cancer. Let’s see, what else… going through chemo, shedding 50 pounds, developing a healthier lifestyle, completing a half-marathon, walking 30 miles in two days, changing sponsors, getting fired for the first time in my life, getting rid of my television, saying goodbye a to dear friend who passed, and losing a few friends by their choice.
As I sit here, I just realized the biggest and most import thing that has come from these last 10 years; I believe with my mind, body, and soul that who I am is enough. Through my childhood, through my addiction, and even through double-digit years in Recovery, I never thought that possibility even existed. Today, I can look at myself in the mirror and, more days than not, say the affirmation I created in 1996 at the recommendation of a friend:
“I love you just the way you are. You are a beautiful person inside and out.”
I truly believe with all my heart that I am supposed to be a writer and speaker. The details haven’t been revealed to me yet. I don’t know if it is long term or something I am simply supposed to do the footwork for. Have I been honoring what I believe my purpose is? Yes, in some small ways, but not nearly to the extent I believe I am supposed to. I post my gratitude list daily and many of you read it, though I should be taking bigger steps. What I believe my purpose is isn’t ego based, it is just where I believe I am being guided. The results are not my business – doing the footwork is. Perhaps this posting will be the beginning of the blog I claim to want to write but haven’t taken the first step towards creating.
Even with most of my years behind me, I know the highest quality ones lie ahead. I can say this with confidence because I am in the best physical, spiritual, and emotional health of my life. It isn’t about comparing the years ahead to the years behind me. I wasted so many of them in the past. I get to take all the experience, strength, and hope that the last five decades have provided and put it to good use every day I am blessed to wake up.
I spent part of the last week pondering who and where I thought I’d be by now. Some of my reflections were positive, but honestly, many made me rather sad. I’ve felt all week that I needed to sit down to write and reflect exactly as I just have. As I fall asleep tonight, I can do so with hope and excitement because it is time to follow where I believe I am being led – to stop thinking and start doing.