This is Not How the Story is Going to End

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Sadly, not everyone’s journey through sobriety is a straight upward line from devastation to freedom. Many of us have severe ups and downs, twists and turns. But the beauty of the journey is that at ANY time, we have the power to stop dead in our tracks and say, “This is NOT how the story is going to end!”

What makes any day different from the others? Why is it that some people have that moment of clarity when they realize they are DONE!? I believe there is no magic to this. I believe that there is, however, a moment when a person decides they no longer have to live the way they are living. Yes, many call it a spiritual awakening. Others call it a moment of clarity. Call it what you will, but I believe something switches in our thinking. Many of us suddenly realize where our life is headed, and we finally see that we can change the course. The despair we feel… the pit we are in… the dismal darkness… the gaping hole in our soul… We simply do not have to let the story end there.

I remember back in middle school there was a popular series of books where the reader had the opportunity to choose his or her own ending. At the conclusion of each chapter, you were to make a choice about where you wanted the story to go. Each choice led to a different story line, and each of those story lines led to a unique final ending based on the choices made throughout. I thought that was pretty cool!

This caused me to think about my own life. With the help of my Higher Power, I can look at my life at any point in time, and choose one of two things. I can either continue down one particular path, or I can make a decision to rewrite the ending to my story. I cannot do it alone… but I CAN do it. All it takes is complete and utter faith.

~ Paige Loveland

This is God. I Will Be Handling All of Your Problems Today.

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I used to wish I would wake up one morning and see a note like that. Today, I don’t need the note because I believe those words with every inch of my being. I was unable to say that as recently as a month ago. About a month ago, I was still struggling with the concept of putting my will completely in God’s hands. I wanted it, don’t get me wrong, but I was not convinced of it.

I played the victim role… I’ve played that role my entire life. When things went wrong, I couldn’t understand why God was letting me down. Now, what I see is this… Things may have been bad, but instead of believing that God let me down, I now see that God helped me through those hard times. I truly believe this.

When times are bad, many of us tend to look to place blame outside of ourselves. We cannot understand why bad things keep happening to us. I was over three years sober when I remember looking up to the heavens and asking out loud, “When do the promises start coming true, damnit?!” Those promises were always within my reach, but I neglected to reach out and grasp them. I did everything in my power to work against the principles of the program. Sure, I convinced myself and a lot of other people that I was working so hard. But the truth was, I was wallowing in self-pity and living in my ego. A deadly combination, I might add.

How did I get to today? I woke up every morning and went to bed every night by thanking God for the blessings in my life and the blessings I am receiving.  Even if I had to struggle to come up with things for which to be thankful, I did it. Before I knew it, I started seeing God’s blessings throughout my life, past and present. I started seeing Him as a loving being, who did not inflict pain on me, but instead, guided me through those hard times, helping me survive each and every difficulty in my life.

This was a huge turning point in my life, and in my sobriety. I know now that if I turn my will over to God each and every day, He will not let me down. My faith is restored, and my trust is strong. I am no longer trying to drive the bus.

~ Paige Loveland

I Didn’t Turn Over My Will… I Loaned it Out

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One of the many mistakes I have made along the path of sobriety was in not completely turning my will over to the care of my Higher Power. Oh sure, I said I did, and I really believed this to be true. But the truth is this… I turned it over, and then reached out and desperately snatched it right back. So, in essence, I was loaning it out.

I have to be willing to give my will completely to my Higher Power. I have to truly believe that God has me in the palm of His hand, and will protect and care for me. To not do so spells disaster.

When I look at my life, I realize that I talked a good game. I told others that I believed that my God was looking out for me. But in my bed, late at night unable to sleep, I was tossing and turning with fear and anxiety over whatever was the problem of the day. With that constant worry, I was obviously not trusting and believing that God had my back. I may have asked Him for help, but instead of turning it over, I was trying to take back control and come up with my own solutions. Hell, my past history should be enough to prove to myself that when I try to control situations on my own, I only end up in misery.

Today, I am slowly learning and accepting that I need God. More specifically, I need to trust in Him that He will provide solutions and offer me comfort. I’ve heard it said at meetings… “Let Go and Let God”.  I have been struggling with this, while knowing at my very core that this is the piece that has been missing in my life.

Tonight, I was flipping channels and came across an old favorite, Joel Osteen. I used to listen to his podcasts while running on the treadmill because not only was it inspiring, but the podcasts are a half hour long which is perfect for my run! 🙂  Tonight’s episode was entitled “Stay in Peace”. He talked about trusting that God will take care of you during even the most tumultuous times. He gave an example of being in the eye of the storm. In a hurricane, while everything is complete chaos, if you are at the very center of the storm, the eye, there is total calmness. He said that when life is crumbling around you, when you feel there is no way out of your problems, stay in peace… stay centered, as if you were in the eye of the storm. Allow everything to occur around you, but stay calm and in peace.

I love this. The key idea is to trust that although life will continue to throw you curves, trust in God and know that He will provide… IF you place your complete trust in Him… IF you turn your will over to Him and allow Him to help. Ask for help, and you shall receive. Trust in Him, and He will provide.

~ Paige Loveland

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.

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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

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

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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

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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