The Other Side of the Mountain

Before I start with happy posts about my long & lovely weekend at Wanderlust, I do have a somewhat serious thing to talk about.

Earlier this year, I set a goal of climbing a mountain. July 7th, I accomplished that goal. I climbed Copper Mountain. The summit is 12,313 feet, and I climbed from the base, which is 9,712 feet. That made my ascent around 3,300 feet or so. No, it was not a huge mountain, but nonetheless a mountain. With a field of boulders…and bumble bees..and slopes..and thinning air…

The feeling of making it to the top after having to stop & rest, quite often, sometimes every 3 minutes or so, was exhilarating. I felt like Jaffe Ryder, a character from Jack Kerouacs’ travel narrative, “The Dharma Bums,” who yelled at the top of the mountain he climbs in the book. I even danced across a field of boulders like he did! It was incredible.

Being on top of that mountain gave me some time to take in & look at what was around me, and most of all, below me. There were peaks higher than I was and lower than I was. 

Looking at my life, I am in the same spot. There are peaks all around me. Some of them are higher than where I’m at now and some are lower. The slopes are all different and the terrain changes throughout the climb. When I was on all fours, crawling up one section of the mountain, I was discouraged because the summit did not seem to get any closer, even though I was exhausted. I thought about giving up and “trying again next time.” When is next time? I am here NOW and if I stop to rest, regain strength, and try again, I could reach the summit; and I did. 

July 7th is also the day, four years ago, when I was arrested for a DWI in Arlington, TX. Yes, I can blame the over-staffed-police-force in the city, or the fact that they followed me out of the bar parking lot, or the fact that my red car was statistically targeted, etc….

The real issue here was not any of those; the real issue was my love for drinking. I’m Irish and my family is riddled with alcoholics, so I did not have much hope in being a moderate drinker.

Since my DWI, I have struggled with “learning to moderate my drinking.” This April, I finally decided I have NO ability to “learn” any kind of moderation for alcohol in my being. Maybe in my next life. After deciding this, I also had to accept it. Accepting my inability to moderate has been the game-changer for my quitting drinking this round. It feels real this time. When I have quit in the past, I have craved to drink and always succumbed to it. What’s changed? Support. Hobbies. Friendships.

I am about to hit 16-weeks of no alcohol, and I am still finding out things about myself that I have ignored in the haze of the last four years. I have had to cut off a couple toxic friendships. I’ve changed my hobbies. The most important thing for me has been the support of my boyfriend, my friends and my family.

Quitting drinking is one thing, but figuring out what you’re going to have to displace and balance that energy into is a new task. It’s the field of boulders on your way up a mountain.

I know alcohol is not abused by everyone. We all have our vices. I hope people know that the most important way to grow from the ashes of destructive living is to know that you CAN create a new life for yourself. You do NOT have to accept your mistakes as who you were meant to be. Find out what your desires are and go for them. Chase them. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family and make space for new experiences to propel your new life forward. CLIMB THAT MOUNTAIN.

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