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

Oh… To Wake Up One Day and Know!

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When I first entered into recovery just over four years ago, I was sure I was done. Sadly, I had to have one more night to “prove” something (to myself, to others, to who, I don’t know).

But that night, oh that night, I fell asleep (passed out) and awoke the next day with this overwhelming pain, anger, frustration, and sadness. I simply knew… knew deep down to the core… that I NEVER wanted to feel that way ever again.

No more nights of which I recall nothing. No more covering up the emotions. No more hiding from my life. It is now or never.

I have known many people in recovery who have said they woke up one day and just knew. Over the past four years, I nodded my head as they spoke, but in reality, I had never experienced an AHA moment like theirs. I originally got sober for other reasons. I got sober to make my children happy. I got sober to prove something to myself. I got sober to please my mother, who had lived with my alcoholic father until he passed away too soon. But I really didn’t get sober for myself.

When I relapsed a few months ago, I know now that it happened because I have a disease. My disease was untreated alcoholism. Yes, I was going to meetings. Yes, I was hanging with sober people. But I was not working the steps. In fact, when people said “work the steps”, I honestly had no idea what the hell they were talking about. I can say now that I understand.

Today, I am awake and aware. I am learning, in baby steps, how to trust and believe in my higher power. I will wake each day knowing… just knowing… because I do not ever want to feel that way again. I know I will have moments, hours, and days in which I doubt this, or in which I will conveniently forget. So I am writing these words to remind myself!

~ Paige Loveland

Don’t Turn Your Back on Someone Who Slips

We live and learn. Each day in sobriety is another opportunity to learn new lessons, meet new friends who get it, and a chance to improve the quality of our life. In talking with another alcoholic tonight after a meeting, I found comfort in having a conversation with someone who completely understands who I am simply because we share the same disease. We talked about my relapse a few months ago. I spoke of how I felt that I had not been truly working a good program before, and that although my relapse was short-lived, I had been on a downward spiral for months. I had been consumed with fear, loneliness, and uncertainty and I didn’t do what I should have done… ask for help.

Silence can be deadly for an alcoholic. When we don’t reach out for help when we need it, we risk our sobriety. What I have found here in my new AA community since moving across the country has been priceless. I’ve met women who care, listen, and support me, and that in turn makes me want to offer the same love and compassion. What I find sad is that I have found more love and compassion from my newfound AA friends than some of the people I spent a great deal of time (almost four years) with in AA back in Illinois.

I told a few trusted friends back in Illinois about my relapse, and since telling them, I had no further contact with them. They simply stopped calling. It was as if I let them down. When I was struggling with my emotional sobriety months ago, I dared not share how I was feeling for fear of being seen as not being a solid AA member. I had a reputation for being one of the “winners”, so how could I go into meetings and express how scared I was and how lonely I was feeling? So here I am, in a new state and a new AA community. I share openly here, and receive the support necessary and am being handed the tools for dealing with my fears. It all lies in the steps outlined in the Big Book.

Why did those few people give up on me instantly when they heard of my relapse? Why would they pretend to be my friend when they thought I had it all together, only to toss me aside the moment they heard I didn’t? I’m not sure. I suppose to dwell on the reasons is pointless. But it hurts.

The lesson I take with me from my experience is to never toss someone aside for having a slip. This program is about progress, not perfection. I need to remember that every moment of every day. Because all we really have is today!

~ 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