The Hurt Behind the Smile (Tribute to Robin Williams)

I won’t pretend to know a great deal about Robin William’s story, but I know enough to feel a strong connection to him and his struggle. For someone like me, it is not unimaginable that a man who could bring so much laughter to the world was probably dying inside much of the time.

robin williams

It matters not that Robin Williams had fame and fortune. It matters not that he had a family who loved him and friends and fans that adored him. Depression and addiction do not care what you have, who loves you, or what your name is.  Anyone is fair game to the grips of addiction, and depression also holds no favorites.

I do not know if Robin Williams was heavily involved in AA or NA. I only know that after 20 years of sobriety, he relapsed. In an interview with Jon Stewart, he spoke of taking that first drink after many sober years. He felt the grips of the disease after one sip, and it led him straight to the abyss. I am still searching for articles to see what happened at that point, for how long his relapse lasted, and for how long he had been sober before the tragic day of his suicide. But I do understand the hopelessness that comes with our disease, and the shame and guilt that come along with relapse.

Robin Williams on The Daily Show

What I have learned from the program of AA, is that I cannot hide behind a happy facade. If I am feeling sad, frustrated, or lonely, I need to be completely honest with another person, whether it is my sponsor or another trusted friend. I cannot pretend to be happy when I am not. Putting on a happy face only allows the low feelings to fester… and when I am living in my own muck, my disease is waiting, ever so patiently. I need to always be in the right frame of mind, and I also need to be spiritually connected. If I am not feeling that way, then I need to talk about it. To hide is to suffer. I wonder if that was what Robin Williams was doing… hiding, suffering, dying inside.  Again, I will not pretend to have any idea what Mr. Williams was going through in the days leading up to his death.  I only know how saddened I am by the loss of such a great talent. I pray for another one of US… lost to this insidious disease, whether directly or indirectly. I will let this be a lesson to keep my sobriety at the forefront of my life and my connection with my Higher Power number one.

RIP Robin Williams

~ Paige Loveland

Get the Hell Up and Keep Moving Forward

stumble

Today, I should have been receiving my 4 year chip. However, that one night slip just over a month ago changed that.  Working with a new sponsor, praying, and re-reading my Big Book have become the focus of my days this past month. When I slipped, I had a moment, a brief moment, in which I thought that since I screwed up, I may as well just keep on drinking. But thank God that moment was brief, and I got my ass back to AA the next day. As mentioned, I got a new sponsor, found some women’s meetings where I could share more openly, and opened back up my dusty Big Book.

So on this particular day, I have been feeling quite uneasy. I started feeling sorry for myself.  Then I got a text from an old friend from AA back in Illinois who I haven’t seen in quite some time wishing me a happy anniversary. That made me feel even worse. So I sent a text to my sponsor letting her know how I was feeling. She simply said, “Imagine how much worse your life would be if you did not quit drinking back in 2010! One night does not erase all the good!”

At a meeting last night, I shared my shame and guilt. After the meeting, an old-timer who I had never met before came up to me and said that the only thing that matters is that we achieve longevity in sobriety… and that we continue to move forward. He said there will always be bumps in the road, whether they include relapse or not, and that we cannot use those as an excuse to go backward.

They were both right. The important thing is that I did not continue to drink. I could easily have just said f*** it… but I didn’t. I got right back on the path, and continue to grow. I did not lose the lessons I’ve learned these past four years. I have a very long way to go, but don’t we all?

So, I will keep on trudging the road to happy destiny. I simply will NOT allow this stumble in the road to be the end of my journey. Instead, I will see it as a slight detour… and get right back on the road… this time, using God as my GPS.

~ Paige Loveland

Powerlessness is Not Weakness

Until we accept that we are powerless, we do not stand a chance. When I first heard this said in the rooms, I honestly thought this meant I was weak and incapable. Although I was beaten down, I still believed that I was in control. I thought maybe I just did not have enough willpower or that the circumstances in my life were what caused me to drink too much. It was that kind of thinking that kept me stuck at step one. Sure, I had gone through the steps a few times in my first few years of sobriety, but had I honestly lived them?

powerlessnessPowerlessness is not a sign of weakness. It is pride that keeps us from asking for help when we most need it. Last night, my daughter told me that I need to let my guard down and let others help. This was coming from an 18 year old girl who has more wisdom in her little finger than I had at that age for certain. Out of the mouths of babes.

So, today, I am pushing my pride to the wayside in hopes that I will accept help from others, and more importantly, from my Higher Power. I have learned time and time again that I am powerless… not weak… simply powerless without God in my life.

~ Paige Loveland

 

Complacency is a Dangerous Place

complacency

The lies of the enemy rarely tempt us to evil, but rather to complacency. Who is this enemy? Our disease.

Pain, worry, anger, & fear… these are all emotions we may recognize as dangerous, slippery slopes along the path of our recovery. But what many of us ignore, myself included at times, is complacency. This was the topic of my women’s meeting tonight. In all of my self-searching, I have discovered that complacency has been my biggest problem. Attending meetings, being social in sober circles, reading meditation books, etc… these are not enough to keep me sober.

I had been walking around with my Big Book covered in my fancy leather binder, notes in the margins, neatly kept. I had read that book, cover to cover. I had ‘worked’ the steps THREE times… but was I ever really working them? The mere fact that I do not know what it really means to work the steps means that I have a great deal of work to do. People talk about the fourth step as having been pivotal in their recovery. I agree, but the truth is that I think the third step is where the transformation begins.

Yes, step 1… I am powerless… YES. Step 2, came to believe… AMEN. But Step 3, made a decision to turn our will and our lives over… You have got to be kidding! I wanted to be in control. I believed that being strong and having the desire would be enough. I had never trusted another person with anything of importance. I’m a self-admitted control freak. If I can’t trust others with simple daily tasks, how in the world can I turn my will and life over to a God that I do not fully understand? But I simply had to… at all costs.

~ Paige Loveland

 

Clarity in Sobriety

clarity

While drinking or using, our thinking is so clouded that we cannot see what is right in front of us. Yet, even in sobriety, we can still have clouded judgment. It is these alcoholic mind moments that should put us on guard. We have a disease which tells us we do not have it. Our minds play tricks on us in ways that non-alcoholics do not experience.

I have a clarity these days that I have not had in what seems like ages. The sky is bluer, the air is cleaner, and the moon shines brighter. I am not fooled by that little nasty voice that is chanting words of discouragement. I love my clean life. I am not ashamed to tell a new friend that I do not drink.  I am unashamed to admit what drinking did to me, and would do to me if I decided to go at it again.

Remembering what it did to me, and playing the tape through to the end as we are encouraged to do, keeps me grounded in reality. I must always remember that the girl who drank, and drank way too much, is always right there, beneath the surface. She is holding a stiff drink in one hand, and beckoning me over to join her with the other. But she does not fool me, for I know who she really is. I don’t need her, and I don’t want her. She is toxic to me, and she only wants to bring that fog back to swell exponentially within me. Today, and today is all that I have, I choose peace and clarity!

~ Paige Loveland

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

single step

 

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When I finally admitted this to myself, truly believing it to the core of my being, I was ready to begin the journey. This journey involved a long path that wasn’t always smooth and sunny. Along the way, there were massive bumps in the road, boulders actually. There were storms where I had to squint aimlessly through with the windshield wipers on high. There were snow storms from where I had to shovel my way out. I found detours that my GPS didn’t recognize, sending me into a tailspin of confusion. I skinned a few knees, broke a few freshly manicured nails, and lost a lot of sleep from worry and despair.

Sounds terrible doesn’t it? Well, the truth is, it really has been a beautiful journey. Why? Because my head was free and clear of alcohol through the entire journey up until now. I took a serious nosedive, but alas, I awoke the next day ready to admit my powerlessness again. None of the lessons I learned up to this point were lost. They may have been hidden beneath the surface a bit, afraid to show their faces. But when I reached down, grabbed them by the neck, and held them up to look them square in the eyes, those lessons were right there where I needed them.

So, here I am. I admit that I am completely powerless over alcohol, that my life has, yet again, become unmanageable. Fully accepting this is a fresh start. So I am merging back onto the road to happy destiny. Wanna come along for the ride??

~ Paige Loveland

Dust Yourself Off… And Move On

Dust Yourself Off

Life goes on. Humans are not infallible. We make mistakes. Mistakes do not make us bad people. Meetings have become a daily event for me again. The truth is, though, I have been going to 5-6 meetings a week (never less than 4) since I first got sober in 2010. But meetings alone do not keep you sober. I have learned that the very hard way. I see that I was on a downward spiral for months.

It started with a surgery for which I was prescribed narcotics during my recovery. Those narcotics tickled something in my brain that made me want more. If I had taken my medication as prescribed, only when I was in pain, I might have been okay. But I am an addict. I wanted them all of the time. They helped me sleep, I justified. When the pills ran out, I wanted more. When I could not get more, I wanted something, anything, that would replace that feeling. I settled on Xanax, which my doctor happily prescribed for my anxiety. All of this was the behavior of an alcoholic completely headed for a huge fall.

As an alcoholic, I have to be aware of those things, such as prescribed (or not prescribed) medications. My brain does not work like a normal person’s brain. Mine can easily be fooled into thinking I am okay, and that I can handle a pill here and there. It is this same brain that will tell me that I do not have the disease of alcoholism.

So, in accepting these things, I am dedicated to dusting myself off, and starting over again. I want the sober and healthy life that I have begun to build over these last four years. I am excited about my future. Things may be tough now, but to that I say, “World, Bring It On!”

~ Paige Loveland