The Voice of Hope

hope

I remember when hope was prevalent in my life… but not in a good way. I used to HOPE that I would not get pulled over for drinking and driving. I used to HOPE that my family would not notice me sneaking in the bathroom to pull out my water bottle filled with vodka for a few sips during holiday gatherings. I used to HOPE that my employer would not notice my bloodshot eyes and the shaking going on in my body. I used to HOPE that no one would ever ask me to quit drinking.

These days, HOPE looks quite a bit different. Today, I have hope that life will continue to get better… as long as I continue living in the solution. Regardless of the obstacles which almost inevitably come my way, I feel a sense of hope that God will get me through even the most challenging of times. Those times where the world seems to be setting up major roadblocks are the most challenging, but somewhere deep within, there is a tiny voice offering messages of hope.

So for today, I prefer to live each moment with hope for the future, and gratitude for what I already have in my life.

~ Paige Loveland

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.

turning over will

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

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

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

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