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Nine and a Half Lives

How many lives have you lived in this lifetime so far?

Or chapters. How many chapters does your book have so far?

Do you come in around the suggested 10 chapters for a memoir? Or are you drowning in chapters?

I’m hoping you have a high number of chapters so I can feel better about my high number of chapters.

I think one of my less-than-helpful, sometimes irrational,  core beliefs or automatic thoughts is that other people live a low number of chapters where not too many chapters would mess up a straight-ish line if mapped out.

But I’m smart. I know that’s not true. I do.

I know peoples’ lives are complicated.

I know I’m not the only ones with lots of chapters.

I know this based on the fact that I know real people in real life.

Not just people’s fun photoshoots on Facebook.

What would be fun is  a support group for people with multi-chaptered lives.  Then we  could share how we make peace with all the chapters – whether good, bad, interesting, thrilling or none of the above.

And maybe ‘make peace with’ isn’t the best way of capturing the concept.

Maybe we just need help knowing how to  ‘experience the many chapters of your life’ in a healthy, useful way.

We could help each other reconcile previous chapters in a way that is respectful of the fact that we were all just doing the best we could with what we had.

But isn’t that what therapy is for?

My mother might say that.

And I might say “who has the time (or money or patience) to sit through all that therapy?”

And besides, sharing with each other in a support group is way more fun and fast than therapy. Have you been to AA lately? Try SMART Recovery. Or any recovery group. They are truly amazing places to go. In a recovery group, everyone learns from everybody and from everything. Everyone is an expert and nobody is an expert. There is a great balance of respect for the weight of both informed opinion and true life experience.

Because it’s true that we have all lived through a lot. And we have a lot to learn from each other.

We’ve all lived through incredible moments and incredible times.

Covid alone gave each of us a couple more chapters.

And prior to Covid, we all have stories about times when we couldn’t breathe. Or times we couldn’t stop breathing so much.

Each of us experienced times where everything changed in just one completely unexpected and surreal moment.

We all went through periods we would rather not remember so much.

And great times we wish we had on tape so we could play them over and over again every night before bed.

What if there was a support group for those of us who just want to learn how to navigate those chapters better?

Not a support group for this condition or that addiction or that disorder or this maladaptive behavior.

Just a support group for life.

Where we could check in instead of checking out.  Where we could bond instead of isolate. Where we could get help without asking. Where we could get help without having to divulge too much. Where we could get help without it having to be all about us.

Where we could give help to others when able to.

And joke about the absurdity of it all with others who are exhausted and amused at the absurdity.

A support group for learning how to manage where you’re at and plan for where you want to be.

For instance, I need help moving on.

I need help letting the past be the past and moving forward.

I need help making a plan to appreciate all of the best things that came out of the hard times and committing to memory the good times.

So I can move on.

Because moving on sounds so simple, but it’s not really that easy when the place you’re at is so safe.

But safety isn’t enough if you want to make different things happen.

It sounds cliche and obvious and easy.

It’s not.

I want to go to a support group for people who are trying to do things that sound cliche and obvious and easy. But they’re not.

That’s it. I’m starting the next Twelve Step program.

Nine and a Half Steps.

An homage to the great film that forever changed my appreciation of the raincoats and refrigerators.

We’ll work on overcoming our addictions to the known safety of automatic thinking and hard-wired habits.

And, as with all things, the higher power stuff will be optional.

And we’ll definitely have donuts.

Because I’m sorry, but donuts really do make everything better.

Happy Spring Day for those who are getting that weather today.

It’s beautiful out. The temps are supposed to hit 80 here in the Nation’s Capital.

And of course there’s a chance of snow in two days.

Of course there is.

So I’ll keep moving forward now.

Hope you are moving forward today too.

xoxoxo, dee (and bella)



This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I’m late to this party, but I want to say that I experience my life as chapters/phases/eras. I feel like I’m a different person today than I was in the past.

    For whatever it’s worth, we are definitely not alone. There was a New Yorker piece last year that talked about how some people see themselves as essentially the same person that they have always been since childhood, while others see themselves as having chapters.

  2. Oh! I should have provided more info. The article title is “Are You the Same Person You Used to Be?”, from the Oct. 10, 2022 issue.

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