I think the most important thing I learned at Mountainside was that there are so many essential parts to 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 my own. Beyond my addiction, I 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 an 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 for confections. I put a lot of thought into the peanut butter-extravaganza-creation 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 thinking back to 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.