A Wrinkle in Time:

Dear Readers

Here I am again.

Writing about ageing and recovery my experience of their intersection.

Ageing well is part of living. Recovery is about learning how to live and can be  seen as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential .” Not a bad definition as it leaves room for people to define their own recovery. No mention of ‘community’ in there though. I don’t do well in isolation.  And I like the word ‘aspire’ rather than ‘strive’. Strive sounds like hard work, and all work and no play makes Suzetta a dull girl.

There is a thought that ‘normal’ life passages and social pressures may be magnified for those of us who spent years in active addiction, due to the self-centeredness and obsession that goes with the territory. Extra awareness and care may be needed. Sitting here, contemplating what it means to live life well at 68 years of age wasn’t something I thought I would ever be doing. Yet here I am, refuting the myth of “that old addict fantasy of dying young and glamorously.” That boat has sailed.

Suzy Calcutta

Young and glam doing the washing in a dunny somewhere in Calcutta circa 1974

I don’t know what it is like not being in the parallel process of recovery and ageing. Society sees both as a ‘narrowing’ yet that is not my experience. What works for me is regularly meeting with like-minded people of all ages/shapes/sizes, sharing and listening. I get reminded that I don’t have to have all the answers, that it is important to stay teachable.

Ageing and recovery are processes, not events. A pilgrims’ progress perhaps?   There is not an end moment whereby I graduate.  Except for you know when… This gives me the freedom to grow and change while I am still here.

An area of growth I have been thinking and writing about recently is speaking in public.  Being ‘seen.’ There was a time when I could no more speak in public (70’s music reference alert) than fly like an eagle.

I was watching a clip from A Wrinkle in Time. It’s a lovely six part series on podcast on Radio New Zealand about ageing and ultimately, facing into death. Noelle McCarthy has created a wonderfully engaging, tender, loving and informative series about the big taboo topics and (You can get to it easily through this link) I am in some of the episodes. Anyway, I was listening and watching and there I am. I noticed things I missed saying, and some things I could have clarified. Not in an ‘oh I fucked that up’ way. More friendly. I see an attractive 67 (at the time) year old woman, me, talking with Noelle, with a face that reflects the years spent on the planet. It often surprises me, when I see myself, that I am a person of my age. I tell myself it doesn’t feel so on the inside.  And yet it does. There is definitely internal changes as I age, because when I was younger I was unable to view myself warmly.  There was ALWAYS something wrong.  I was not ‘good enough.’

The first time I saw myself on camera, I was training as a social worker. We were being filmed as we practiced counselling. When we sat down to view and critique the work, all I could see was a big arse, mine, and I felt the hot wash of shame that goes with the perception of being ‘wrong’. I could not see the content of the work I had done due to the shame attack, and was unable to hear positive feedback from my fellows. Excruciating!! It’s nearly three decades down the track now and I still recall that discomfort. Thankfully I have moved on and am more able to see myself with a less self-centered and critical eye. I am not completely at ease though.

Lately, I have become aware of living with more anxiety. I think? Or is it that I am more aware of anxiety which has always been there?  It latches onto real or imagined health issues, and when I’m not “busying’, there it is.  Cancer? Brain tumour? Heart issues? All of the above? Do all people of a certain age experience this? Is it just me? I don’t want to ask out loud in case…? I have asked a couple of people and I’m not alone in this manifestation of anxiety

I understand that anxiety doesn’t give a shit what it’s anxious about as long as it is able to angst. Knowing this doesn’t remove the anxiety, although it is helpful to externalise, so I don’t begin taking myself seriously and begin believing it is unsafe to leave the house. I don’t want to be one of the ‘worried well’ living in fear of a future ‘what if?’ I want to be here now, aspiring to reach my full potential, aches and pains and all, and have fun along the way. I have arrived at that unforeseen place, described in the “Ageing” chapter in the book as ‘when we realise we are too old to die young’. So, learning to live with uncertainty. Learning how to live. And I’m very grateful to be here where life lives.

suzy cup of coffee

Celebrating that I’m too old to die young with a nice decaf soy flat white in the Westmere

“Although we may fear growing older, many of us find that we can embrace and love what we have become – aches and pains and all.”

18 comments

  1. Thank you Gloria x

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  2. Gloria Lawton · ·

    Beautifully written!! gentle, funny, honest.. Thankyou Susy..

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you dear Raspberry for your lovely comment x

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  4. Ooooh Alison
    Happy 60th
    It gets better xx

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  5. Dear David
    Thank you
    Metta xx

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  6. Thank you Audrey
    Grace and sobriety go SO well together xx

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  7. Dear ‘Someone’
    Thank you
    We 67 + year olds need to stick together x

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  8. Thank you
    We ARE the role models Gina xx

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  9. Oh thanks Kimi xx

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  10. Kimiora Tanerau · ·

    Kia ora Lovely Suzie 😀 Such a wealth of knowledge and still as Beautifull as ever ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gina Hartley · ·

    Awh Suzy. I’m 53 now. I always remember you in that yellow Canary dress. You looked hot. I think it’s extra hard for us as we lead the way in ageing and recovery. We have no role models here to show us how it’s done. We are the first to walk recovery and age. I never thought I would reach this age or have a normal partner. Sometimes I think I failed at life and other times I think I’m a miracle. Well Suzy von c you inspire me to keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Anonymous · ·

    ahh Susie from another 67yo you expressed many of my sentiments exactly, lovely piece, thank you

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  13. What a lovely post and one that so resonates with me, as I too am getting older. I assumed I would be dead by 24, but as you say, “that ship has sailed” and now I am moving into my 60’s, hopefully with grace and sobriety (and not too much angst about my aches and pains – ha!). Thank you for touching on these subjects, we need more sober, “wiser” warriors to show us old folks the way.

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  14. David Wilson · ·

    Thank you for your captivating words Suzetta! Hardly a dull woman! I enjoyed the changing of the word “strive”… “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and aspire to reach their full potential .” Jaya Sai Ram

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  15. Beautifully written Suzy and as I approach my 60th in a few days time I so relate

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  16. Your personal is my universal, so relate to your gentle thinking about ageing. Beautiful writing.

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  17. Lovely writing

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