What Climbing a Mountain Taught Me About Sobriety



Yesterday I met Mt. Evans of Colorado up close and personal and accomplished a big goal of mine = to climb a 14K mountain. 

 

Climbing a mountain is a big feat. 

Climbing a mountain of this elevation is a big feat. 

Climbing a mountain at this elevation, as a 46 year old woman from Chicago, was a real challenge.

 

You know what else is a huge feat and a big challenge? 

You guessed it, getting sober.

 

Throughout my entire climb I was trying to find the metaphors between getting sober and climbing a mountain, but they didn’t come to me, until the day after my climb.

 

I am first sharing my climbing experience with Mount Evans. Then, I will share the lessons I learned in retrospect. Let's start at the beginning. 

I commited to climbing a mountain a year ago, after a hike with a friend in Colorado. We decided to accomplish this goal together and we decided on Mount Evans. We got a parking permit, and put a date on the...

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Reflections on 4 Years Sober

sober sober celebrations Feb 23, 2022

I fell to my knees the morning of February 20th, 2018 and surrendered to my husband. 

I was crying, miserable, terrified. 

 

For the first time in my whole life I said the words that seemed impossible to me,  “I need help.” He held me and we cried together. 

 

I made a very wobbly decision that I was never going to drink again. I was somehow going to become the kind of person that doesn’t drink and in doing this we both knew our whole life would change. There was no other option. The path of alcohol led to complete destruction of me and our family and I wasn't having it. In order to save my life I would have to be sober for the rest of my life. I was so sad about it. I felt like a failure. Defective. Weak. I was scared. My life was clearly not working for me, but yet I was clinging to what I knew and I didn’t want anything to change.

 

I was mostly afraid of how this would affect my relationships. I wouldn’t want to...

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How My Vanity Helped Me Sober Up, When I Didn't Want To

When I look back on pictures, I can see clearly how alcohol is poison. 

The bloat in my face is painful to see. 

The bloat was my body's way of trying to protect me from my drinking habits.

As a drinker, it was just another reason for me to hate my ugly self.

I was ignoring myself, in every way.

I did not pay attention. 

I avoided.

I escaped.

I numbed out everything that was happening to me, so I could just keep drinking. 

Alcohol was both the poison,

and the temporary cure, for my anxiety,

depression, grief, shame. 

 I started drinking in my early teens.

I never had a chance to fully develop without it.

I didn’t learn healthy coping skills.

I didn’t know how to regulate my emotions.

Alcohol was always there to soothe me.

 It wasn’t always a problem for me.

 I thought it was fun.

I thought it was what made me fun.

I thought other people liked the funny, fun, party girl, who I was, with a drink in my hand.

I thought...

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What To Do On Weekends When You're Not Drinking?

What do you do on the weekends when you are sober? 

Isn’t it boring?

No.

It’s not. 

It’s relaxing, productive, and fulfilling.

I had no idea how to spend my time when I first quit drinking.

I was antsy, irritated, and annoyed.

Alcohol had removed my ability to find pleasure in anything but alcohol. 

For the first time in a long time, this weekend I had few plans and obligations. 

I thought this would be a perfect example of what a “normal” weekend looks like. 

Saturday I woke up early and had coffee with my husband,

in our quiet living room, while the kids sleep in. 

I welcome the spring sun and the bird song, in the morning these days.

I had gotten in a habit of sleeping in during the dark, winter season.

I prefer an earlier rising, so I am happy to wake up early without an alarm, even on a weekend. 

It starts my day off right.

I welcome the day, instead of curse the day, because (Hallelujah!) I am not hungover.

We...

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3 Fears of High Functioning Drinkers

When I first quit drinking I wanted everything in my life to stay exactly the same. The only difference would be that I was no longer drinking. I didn’t want anyone to know if I was drinking or not drinking, and I definitely didn’t want it to be the topic of conversation. I feared my relationships would change, or that others would feel uncomfortable around me. I wanted to go on living my life, only somehow secretly not drinking alcohol. 

Now, at 3-years sober, I realize how that was both unrealistic, and not in my best interest. 

Looking back it doesn’t surprise me that I had all of these expectations. I had set myself up to live an unliveable life in many ways. I wanted to go unnoticed and keep everyone around me happy at all times. I also never wanted to feel anything. If I started having an intense feeling, I would get disappointed in myself. It was easier to pretend it didn’t exist. Whatever the feeling was, it had to be wrong, and it was my...

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Want More Me Time? Get Rid of Alcohol

It is Saturday morning. 

I don’t have to get up.

It is 6:30 and still dark out.

I roll around in bed.

Pet the dog.

Lay and enjoy the slowness of the morning without the rush to get up.

My eyes are wide awake.

My body feels mostly good.

Maybe slightly puffy from the sushi last night, but my head is clear. 

I awake with energy and joy.

I decide to get up out of bed and make myself my first cup of coffee.

I am excited for this early morning alone time, because I am at the end of a great book.

I turn on the lamp, grab my blanket, and settle in on the couch.

I finish this 5 star read, as the sun rises. 

I treat myself to a Starbucks run for my next cup of coffee.

Today is Halloween.

I have a fun day of holiday baking, crafts, and movies planned with my teenage daughters.

Because of the COVID pandemic, we are not attending our usual costume parties, treat or treating, and other neighborhood activities.  

We planned our own Halloween agenda weeks ago. 

I...

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Getting Sober is Spooky, Staying Sober is Magic

Living alcohol free is absolutely magical, but it doesn’t feel that way at first.

When I first quit drinking, I had a lot of fears.

MostlyI feared that life after booze would be boring.

I was terrified that I would lose friends. 

The truth is, my early sobriety was pretty boring.

I tucked in bed early on most days.

I avoided many social gatherings.

I immersed myself in books, podcasts, blogs, and education on alcohol. 

I didn’t know how to have fun without alcohol.

I only knew how to be a party girl, with a permanent drink in my hand. 

I had a big fear of missing out on fun.

My friendships changed too.

Everyone, including my closest friends, were unsure how to support me. 

We always drank together.

What now?

I was itchy in my new alcohol free costume.

I was becoming a new person.

I was taking off the mask of alcohol in my 40’s.

I had worn this cover up since my teen years.

I didn’t know the alcohol...

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Happy Birthday Ditched the Drink From #1 Boss Babe

A year ago I was between jobs. 

I was interviewing at a few companies. 

I was rising as the top candidate for a few positions. 

The openings were for jobs that I was qualified for and that I had done before.

I was good enough at these jobs.

I visualized myself making a decision about these positions and my heart sunk. 

I had a year of sobriety under my belt. 

I made huge gains in my personal development. 

The result of my efforts, was that I no longer fit into the corporate puzzle.

I couldn’t see myself going back to these jobs that, were never meant for me.

I wanted to do something that made my heart sing. 

I wanted to go back to my social work roots.

I wanted to inspire and help others. 

I wanted to share stories, connect, and create.  

I wanted to work with people that share a passion for mental health.

I took a leap of faith.

I let go of a paycheck.

I decided to have relentless belief in myself.

Something I had never...

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Taking Shots

Along with another chaperone, I took my 15 year old daughter and 5 of her girlfriends, to a lake house in Michigan, for a long weekend.

The weekend away was like a mini vacay.

A sober, alcohol free, rated PG, delightful vacation.

 Is it possible to have fun without drinking?

When I was drinking, I didn't think so.

When I was newly sober, I wasn't sure either. 

Now my vacations have gotten even better because they don't revolve around alcohol.

When I was drinking, alcohol crowded my thoughts.

Bringing drinks, mixing drinks, getting more drinks, keeping drinks cool, finding the right tool to open drinks, starting to drink, counting drinks, drinking more, cleaning up after drinking, replenishing drinks, rationing drinks from others, and recovering from drinking, were the center of my vacations. 

This Girls Trip with my daughter was nothing like that.

Here's the play by play:

Stop for dinner on the way up. 

Order the fried pickles/frickles.

Realize everyone in the...

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I'm Afraid if I Quit Drinking I Won't Be Fun Anymore

Almost everyone I know has the same fear when they quit drinking.

Fear of not being fun anymore. 

I had the same fear. 

My identity was wrapped up in being a party girl. A class clown. A drinker. 

I had never met anyone sober and I certainly would never want to hang out with anyone that didn't drink. 

There was one women at work that didn’t drink much.

“Why???” , I would ask her. 

I literally could not fathom why someone wouldn’t drink as much as they could,

 as often as they could, like me.

“I just don’t really like the way it makes me feel. I’ll maybe have one glass of wine at Christmas, but that’s it.”

I would think, are you freaking kidding me??? 

What do you do for fun? 

Eyeroll. 

How boring. 

We would never be friends, outside of work. 

If she didn’t drink we obviously had nothing in common. 

All I did was drink and I surrounded myself with drinkers. 

...

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