I think the most important thing I learned at Mountainside was that there are so many essential parts to my recovery. One of the first questions I was asked by my clinician was, “What are some of your interests?” At the time, I was stunned that I didn’t know. Beyond my addiction, I simply had no idea what I enjoyed doing. I started to think about things I liked to do when I was younger — back before I had a full-time job, or a family, or the trappings of adult life. I remembered that I always loved baking. I baked my first cake when I was 8 years old, and consistently made cakes for my family and friends for many years. At some point, I somehow forgot about that part of my life. Before I went to Mountainside, I thought a life in recovery either had to be filled with dozens of hobbies, or nothing at all. How boring would that have been?
I made a cake for my brother about 2 weeks after I got out of Mountainside, and it rekindled my love of confections. I put a lot of thought into the peanut butter extravaganza thing I made for him, and I was hooked. I remembered how much I love to get lost in the creative process of baking, and how great it is to get out of my head for a few hours. My long-term plan is to open a bakery. I want the staff to be made up of residents from a few sober living houses near me. I remember what it was like to be borderline unemployable, and it wasn’t fun.
When I was in active addiction, I never had long-term goals or plans or cared for anyone else. These days, I sponsor other women. One of the things I always ask them is what they like to do. Even if it means going back to your childhood, you must figure out what you love. The addict in me used to think making cakes was a waste of time, and that drinking made me happy. I’ve come to find out, it’s the other way around.
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