Staying clean and sober is “easy” when you’re in a residential rehab, surrounded by a caring community which encourages a healthy lifestyle, emotional healing, and spirituality. But what happens when it’s time to go back to where you came from, back to an isolated community with a lot of time on your hands, far from those who helped you achieve early sobriety? What happens when you go back to a place surrounded by triggers that led to your drinking, using, and gambling?
You’ve probably heard this quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Meredith had heard it too. She was determined to go home to her family, but not to her old life. Determined to stay clean and sober, she knew she needed a different lifestyle, a lifestyle that supported health & wellness, a daily routine that created a sense of belonging, activities that promoted self-confidence and self-esteem through achieving challenging goals. She needed a program that would get her through life’s ups and downs, something that would help her resist those urges to go back to gambling, drinking, and using.
She chose a plan she was already familiar with, one that had worked for her while in rehab – train for the LA Marathon with a team comprised of the newly sober. As a resident at Beit T’Shuvah, a West Los Angeles addiction treatment program, she spent 5 months training with a team comprised of 50+ residents, alumni and community supporters. On March 19, 2017, while still a resident, she proudly crossed the finish line.
Shortly after, she returned home, over 100 miles away. She stayed clean and sober. When September rolled around and Marathon training began again, Meredith joined the team virtually. She stayed on the mailing list, receiving the weekly newsletter full of training tips. She closely followed the week by week training plan. She regularly checked the team Facebook page and added supportive comments. She posted her own progress and enjoyed the “Likes” and support received from her teammates. And, when she was able to get to LA, she came out and trained with the team, pushing her son in a stroller. On Marathon weekend, she was there with the team in person. Not only did she have 2 years sober, she was also 70 pounds lighter. Once again, she proudly crossed the finish line.
As Fall of 2018 approached and training started for the 2019 LA Marathon, Meredith began training remotely. Following her successful plan of the prior year, Meredith stayed focused on her goal, remained connected, and met up with the team on Marathon weekend 2019.
The night before the Marathon I asked, “So, how does it feel to be 3 years clean and sober, ready to cross that finish line again?!” I didn't see the big smile I was expecting to see. She looked down and said, "I gambled” she replied, “but I got myself back on track." I reminded her that relapse is a normal part of recovery, and that the important thing is that she did stop. Then, with the big smile I had been waiting for she said, "But I didn't drink or use. Now I care what I put in my body. I have to keep myself clean and sober to do the Marathon."
In March of 2019, Meredith proudly crossed the LA Marathon Finish Line for her third time.