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

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 a few of them. They simply stopped calling. Now, of course, there were a few friends (mainly a few old-timers that I loved and trusted immensely) who continued to support me, but like the good alcoholic that I am, I focused on the ones who shunned me. 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

Get the Hell Up and Keep Moving Forward

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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

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

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

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

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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

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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

The Journey Begins… Yet Again

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Having had almost 4 years of sobriety, I was feeling as if I had this thing licked. The signs were written on the wall… signs of a fall. I was going through some rough stuff, but nothing I had not overcome in the past. Then I moved across the country, took a new job, and left everything else behind. I thought the fresh start would be good for me, and in most ways it has been. Change can be good, if we are spiritually fit.

I heard someone say last night that after a few years of physical sobriety, he still felt this gaping hole inside of him. I can relate all too well to that. When we search for ourselves, we are in a constant state of flux. I haven’t felt whole in many years, and I allowed myself to begin feeling like I was on the outside looking in. I felt as though there was something missing. Was it finding the right man in my life? Was it finding fulfilling work? Was it searching for answers in the mountains? I haven’t found any of these things, yet.

Since I got sober, I had never dated a man who drank.  So when I started dating a wonderful man who drinks, but drinks normally, I thought I could handle it. I started to even fantasize that maybe, just maybe, I could drink normally again, with him.  After we had been spending time getting to know each other, we decided to get together with our kids.  He was having a few cocktails, and my daughter and her friend were having a few with him.  I felt suddenly angry.  My crazy thoughts went to… “He is having more fun with them than me because they are all drinking and I’m not.  Then, as if I was not even aware of myself and my actions, I walked inside while they were out on the patio, reached in the fridge, and picked up that bottle of whiskey (which would NEVER have been my drink of choice) and tossed it back.

I did that a few more times, and sadly but not surprisingly, I do not remember a single thing that happened for the rest of the evening. I only know that we all crashed there for the night. I awoke the next day having to face my daughter and this new guy. But mostly, I had to face myself.

I spoke with a respected friend last night who told me that feeling shame is pointless. The important thing is that after that one night, I went right back to meetings, talked to others who understood, and have been walking the walk, once again.

So here I sit, ready to start anew, trying to not focus on the time, days, hours, or minutes. I only have today, and the journey begins, yet again!

~ Paige Loveland