Together We Are Stronger

Mountainside M Logo By Mountainside

In May 2008, I was mentally and physically defeated. Surrounded by conflict – both internal and external – I came to the realization that I no longer wanted to continue living the life I was living.

There were many things that happened over the course of three days that made it clear that the path I was on was leading me to death’s door. The one thing that stands out the most during that time was when I was sitting face to face with my future. Staring into the eyes of a woman I never met before, not knowing her name, how we came to be in the same room but only had one thing in common: drugs. I don’t know exactly how old she was, but to me, she looked like she was 100 years old. She signified my fate. A future that was dark and bleak. It was that moment that put into motion my will to survive.

It’s been over 11 years now since I began my transformation, and since we are celebrating Recovery Month, I thought I would share with you the lessons I gradually learned on my own journey:

  1. Let go of anyone or anything that isn’t serving you. Throughout my recovery, I have found that sometimes I outgrow people and what I need changes from day to day. I focus on the positive and what helps me evolve.
  2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I embrace what I fear. I know on the other side of that uneasy feeling is growth, and that is always reassuring.
  3. Tears are essential for washing away the uncertainty and confusion in your head. There have been times throughout my 11-plus years of recovery that I have allowed myself to unravel. Sometimes, you just have to let it all out to move forward.
  4. Throw yourself into the middle of the group. Forming new connections and making sure that I stay connected to friends and family each day has helped keep me grounded. It has given me a sense of belonging and the feeling that I am part of something much bigger than myself.
  5. Focus on yourself. Sometimes, it can be easy to get lost in other people’s problems. Taking care of my mental and physical well-being is essential to living my best life and reaching my potential.
  6. Be honest with yourself, no matter how difficult it may be. I used to feel so uncomfortable sharing what was really going on inside my head. In order to continue to live my life freely, I must live my life in a way that is honest and continue to keep my loved ones in the loop.
  7. Keep building in recovery, layer by layer. In the beginning, I filled my extra time with meetings, commitments, and sober gatherings. As time went on, I knew I needed more. I am always looking for new ways to safeguard my well-being. You can never do too much for your recovery.
  8. Perfection is unattainable. In early sobriety, I wanted to do recovery the right way. What I did not understand was that striving to get everything “just so” was impossible. Today, I embrace my imperfections and look at them as opportunities to grow.
  9. No feeling lasts forever. In early recovery, it felt like I was going to be stuck in a perpetual cycle of anger and sadness. I had to remind myself that feelings subside. Some days, joy is my constant companion, and some days, I just embrace the not-so-good stuff knowing that it will pass.
  10. There is beauty in all things. Once the drugs were out of my system, I began to see the beauty of life. I could see hope in the stories that were being shared by my peers. I was able to be present in the day, learning to laugh and enjoy the simple things.
  11. Let the love in. To say that I hated myself 11 years ago would be an understatement. But it was through the love of others that I began to clear away the wreckage of my past. Slowly, I began to forgive myself. Through forgiveness, I was able to take care of myself in a healthy way, which led me to start loving myself.

Life’s lessons are ongoing. Applying what I learn has been essential to my ongoing recovery. Self-discovery is vital, and I don’t ever want to stop learning about myself. I am so far away from the person I was 11 years ago, and next year I will be so far away from the person who is writing this today. What a journey it has been so far. Each year, each day brings new revelations, and I look forward to meeting my future self.

Mountainside and Dopey Present: DopeyCon

Throughout the years, we have been proud to see countless alumni not only overcome their addiction but thrive in sobriety. One of those alumni is Dave, the co-creator of Dopey Podcast. Dopey, which began with two Mountainside alumni sharing their drug stories, has morphed into a close-knit recovery community. A community that has not only helped many get on but also stay on the path to recovery. And this Recovery Month, we are incredibly happy to announce that we are partnering with Dopey to throw the first ever DopeyCon — an exciting night of storytelling and connecting.

Whether you’re a member of the Dopey Nation and want to meet the man behind the mic, or you’re an alum who wants to celebrate recovery and meet others who are embracing sobriety, DopeyCon is for you. We hope to see you there!

Share Night Volunteers

Please email [Jessica Dolan]( if you are an alum with six months of sobriety and are interested in sharing your story at Alumni Share Night.


If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.