From the April 2012 magazine.

April 2012: Horsing Around in Ireland

For his 50th birthday, an AA member takes a dream trip to the Emerald Isle

My eighth year of sobriety was my most challenging. My wife had health problems and had to stop working. I lost both of my parents within six months of each other, and my wife’s younger sister, who had been instrumental in my own sobriety, succumbed to our disease, leaving my wife and I as middle-aged, first-time parents to the 12-year-old daughter she left behind.

I was probably at a fortunate point in my sobriety at that time. I had enough years that muscle memory took my body to meetings automatically, but not so much time that I felt invulnerable to a drink. I turned 50 that year, and when my wife offered to send me on a dream vacation to ride on horseback across the Connemara region of Ireland, I jumped at the chance. Then I realized that I didn’t fully trust myself. I would be going alone, among people who would most likely be drinking, and since no one there knew me, no one would raise an eyebrow if I were to take a drink. That, coupled with experiencing a year of many still-unresolved feelings of loss, change and uncertainty about the future, could be a recipe for disaster. I knew that. I also knew that as a 50-year-old amateur equestrian, riding cross-country in Ireland was an opportunity that might never present itself again.

-- Tom G.

Northport, New York

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