Things I Used to Trip On, I Walk Over Now

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woman on top of mountain holding inspirational banner

I love shedding off the notion that it’s difficult to have fun without drinking. We have WAY more fun! Celebrating, relaxing, dancing. Destressing is not contingent on alcohol consumption.

My first six months were truly white-knuckle. Go to meetings and don’t drink – it worked. But then I wanted to get off the bench and back in the groove. The alumni events gave me that opportunity to tiptoe back out into civilization with a group of sober friends surrounding me. We went out, we laughed, we celebrated, all without a drop of alcohol.

Going to Costa Rica with the alumni team, Stephanie, and the gang was truly the bridge from “FOMO” to “Recovery Rocks!” I joined up because I love to travel. I got excited because I was nervous about traveling alone and the temptations it could present. Little did I know all the lessons we would learn! I don’t think anyone escaped without walking through a fear — be it heights, sharks, spiders, big cats, and more. We were so busy having fun that we didn’t even realize there was a hotel bar upstairs until the third night when we went to meet our shark friends. When that 5 o’clock happy hour vacuum started sucking people in, we held hands in solidarity and laughed out loud!

After whooshing down zip lines, staring down massive spiders in the greenhouse, frolicking with jellyfish, and giggling at the thought of sharks, it was MY turn to face my fear— snakes! I knew there was no way anyone would let me feign ill and miss the night hike. Our first encounter was immediately upon arrival: a snake in the ladies’ room. I froze but kept calm and carried on. On the other side of the suspension bridge, while frantically scanning the ground for slithering surprises with my flashlight, I asked: “are there any snakes in the trees?” The guide responded, “the most poisonous kind” as he shined a flashlight onto an otherwise invisible bulge on a tree. We then saw it was a small tree snake of “the most poisonous kind.” Although I was totally freaked out, there was no turning back alone through the darkness, so we forged ahead. Jessica got up close and personal with her favorite spiders, including a tarantula. We all survived! It was so uncomfortable, but so are a lot of experiences in recovery. We learned that no liquid courage is necessary, and alcohol-induced anxiety is a thing!

Now, two years later, I’m here enjoying brunch with other alumni and remembering how three years ago today, I thought I could have one birthday glass of champagne. I ended up relapsing and landing a return trip to Mountainside. I am so grateful and thankful for all of Mountainside – and for Jessica and all she has done for me – to allow me to embrace this beautiful life I live today!

My recent travels, which I refer to as “March Mountain Madness,” are a gift which grew from all the building blocks lovingly and painstakingly put together one by one over the past few years. Inspired by Jessica’s trip to India, I thought I would make a prayer flag to bring with me on my trek to 4000′, 8000′, and 12,000′ in the US, Canada, and Switzerland respectively.

My inspiration came in my New Hampshire hideaway nestled up against the White Mountain National Forest. All I could find was an old pillowcase and a handful of Sharpies. So was born my Go Beyond pillowcase banner, which induced significant eye rolling when I asked my children to photograph me on mountaintops. I colored and added inspiration throughout my adventures. Now, I would like to share my flag with all of you.

Thank you to the alumni team, from the bottom of my heart, for inspiring me daily and fostering the confidence and abilities to truly “Go Beyond” in every facet of my life.

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