My name is Sue D. and I am a Mountainside alum. Before I went to Mountainside in the winter of 2018, most of the daily decisions I made were around alcohol. When to get it, how much, how to hide it. Eventually it just became easier to drink alone. When I came to Mountainside I was so scared, but also so fed up with myself. I knew I needed to change, and I had left myself no other choice BUT to change. I had lost my job, my home, and most certainly my self-respect.
So being open minded when I got there was important. It was such a gift to be able to share my journey with other men and women who were going through the same experience as me. We bonded. It was a safe place to be honest and vulnerable. When I left Mountainside, I went back to the 12 Step Program that hadn’t been clicking with me before. Before Mountainside, I never wanted to linger at the meetings or socialize – it seemed like too much “work.” Because of my experience, I started to go to meetings early and stayed later to get to know the local recovery community. I found people in the program that had what I wanted – good sobriety, a good program, an active life – and I listened to them. I started to go to coffee or lunch with them after the meetings. I watched how they made a real effort to connect with others and their lives seemed happier and fuller as a result. These people became my friends and support system.
It felt so freeing to confide in this network about how scared and unsure I was. In early sobriety I had court cases and other issues caused by drinking to deal with. They say a problem shared is a problem halved (and a joy shared is a joy doubled) and this is so true! They carried me through a very tough time. Today I am a reliable and present friend. My friends and I confide in each other and we look out for each other – we know when something is amiss. The extreme loneliness I had created for myself for so many lost years has been replaced by healthy and supportive two-way friendships.
This past fall, I went on a road trip to Vermont with some women from the program. We shopped, ate, talked, laughed, hiked. This is very unlike the trips I used to take which were a haze and I never really left the room. On this trip, we took a tour of the Bill Wilson House and, with my friend’s encouragement, I actually got to lead a meeting there. What a moment!
After three years of sobriety I can say that my sober support network is the most important part of my recovery. I had to dismiss my old notions of “bothering people.” People in recovery WANT to be there for others in recovery – it keeps them sober too. I talk to my network every day – even if it’s just a text or a joke. And I go to meetings pretty much every day. Connection creates accountability, something I was sorely lacking before. People will notice if I’m pulling away. There can be no more isolating, or I will drink.
There is an amazing level of compassion and willingness to help others in the recovery community. Today I don’t try to carry the burden of life by myself, and I don’t want others to have that pain.
My time at Mountainside was transformative, and I make sure to keep applying the lessons I learned. I had to let go of old ideas and get out of my own way. Getting connected and staying connected to others in recovery has been the most rewarding part of this journey for me. Life will happen on life’s terms – but you don’t have to go it alone!