I was intimidated at first, thinking I had nothing to offer these women – no professional experience with case management, and no personal experience with abuse or addiction. How would I relate? But as we began working out together, it was readily apparent that we would relate to one another just like I do with any other woman in my life – through jokes and laughter, commiserating in the pain of one more set of squats, and starting to share little bits and pieces of our lives: our hopes, our fears, and our faith.
On hikes outdoors we joined the men and I grew to find these guys my big little brothers. I could bring into the mix my experience hiking, but learned about mountaineering with the team. We worked up to Mt. Hood. It was incredibly amazing and difficult. By the time it was over we were a family forged by suffering and success. Mt. Rainier was a time I’ll never forget. There is something to be said about doing the hardest physical and mental thing you’ve ever done in the company of a team that is like family. When you think you can’t do it – and someone alongside you says, “I know you can” and they push you even when you hate them for it. Later you love them for it.
The hard work and the time together melted all perceived barriers. We were one team, struggling together and supporting each other together. On our ladies’ team the sisterhood was fierce – we cried together over broken relationships due to addiction, and hoped with one another for God’s healing power. We shared our vulnerable needs and found everyone a bit ashamed to say how much they felt like they were unlovable and yet shyly eager to receive love. We went to court hearings and weddings together – the running store and the 7-11 for post workout Slurpees. Not only did I realize I could climb incredibly difficult mountains with the help of my friends – but I realized that these friends were the ones that I would keep for life.