One of the things I liked least as a drinking person is that I was afraid of everything. I had no self-esteem, I was scared of new situations and new people. This caused me to stick close to what I know and to not experience a lot of things. I remember one time, when I lived in Los Angeles, there was a class I wanted to take. It was free and all I had to do was drive to Los Feliz which was pretty close to my home in Hollywood. This is something I have wanted to do for a long time, I found the class and the place but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. So I drive to Los Feliz, I get to the place, and I turned around and left. I couldn’t even make it in the door.
Some time later, I heard someone say that they tell themselves daily to “be a little braver”. I say these words to myself every single day, and I need it every time. I always say, to my clients and when I do speaking engagements, that we have to actively participate in our lives. I have to actively seek recovery, work, friends, activities…. These things, life, is not going to come to me if I am sitting on my ass on my couch.
As a student (an old student) there are many study-abroad opportunities. For the past two years I have always thought how amazing it would be to see another part of the world and earn college credit for it. But I have always told myself that I can’t go because I am a working adult with rent and bills, and a dog and responsibilities. I always tell myself no, I can’t. In the spirit of ‘one day at a time’ I decided to go to a meeting about all the study-abroad trips for my program. I decided that I could go, and just listen to the details. BE A LITTLE BRAVER!
I listened to the details of three programs. Two of the programs are in Costa Rica and one program is in Italy. Initially I was set to go to Costa Rica. I’ve been there, I love Spanish, and it is beautiful. But, my dream vacation is Italy. I’ve been trying to talk someone into going to Europe with me for four years!! The problem is, I can’t go to Europe with just anyody. I have to go with someone who knows I am sober and who understands the importance of me staying sober in a place where there is wine on every table. For four years it hasn’t worked out. Until now.
Be a little braver, I say to myself, and I filled out the study-abroad application. Be a little braver, as I had to email two teachers to ask for letters of recommendation for the study-abroad program. Be a little braver, as I called my mom and a friend about caring for the love of my life, my dog Lord Henry. Be a little braver, as I consider everyone else on the trip will be 15-20 years younger than me. Be a little braver as I stare at the ridiculous cost and know that I will have to get student aid to do it. But I have taken each step and I have done it with confidence.
12 days in Italy. 4 cities in Italy. College credit for roaming the country that I have dreamt of seeing since I was 14. A group of people with whom I know my sobriety will not be at risk. And a once in a lifetime opportunity that I never would have had the courage to attempt had I not been blessed with this gift of recovery and people to teach me how to live life with courage and vigor, and to not be afraid.