Believe in Magic!

magic

I wanted to quit drinking… I wanted the problem to be just taken away, like magic. I listened to what people in the program were telling me, that I could ask my Higher Power to remove my obsession to drink and return me to sanity. I wanted these things so badly, but what became a huge road block was that, sadly, I did not truly believe in my Higher Power.

I love the above quote from Alice in Wonderland! It says it all, actually. I wanted my problems to go away like magic, but was unwilling to believe that magic existed. Is God “magic” to me? I mean, c’mon, that sounds a bit ridiculous. But when I really think about it, I see the point that is clearly being made.

If I truly put my faith in God, and believe without a shadow of a doubt that He can keep me sober, then I stand a chance at this thing called sobriety! If I want a lovely and fulfilling life of physical and emotional sobriety, I have to trust and have faith that my Higher Power will come through for me. Today, that is exactly what I am choosing to do!

~ Paige Loveland

When the Lights Go Out

I am an addict… specifically, an alcoholic… and I am enjoying a sober life. But addiction is ever present. It rears its ugly head in many areas of my life. Of my many addictions, there are also what I like to call “vanilla” addictions. By this, I am referring to addictions which are not quite as harmful to me as my addiction to alcohol, but are present nonetheless. For example, I am addicted to Netflix. My 19 year old daughter and I will watch tv shows non-stop on any given Saturday. We will look at each other at 11pm, and wonder if we can make it through another episode of Grey’s Anatomy!

netflix

Okay, okay… so there is an underlying point to this absurdity. In all seriousness, there is a theme present in the show, Grey’s Anatomy, that is incredibly relevant to an alcoholic like me. I have seen all of the shows over the years, but my daughter has not. So as we watched season after season, over the course of only a few weeks, my daughter made comments about one of the main characters… Chief Webber.

You see, Chief Webber was this full of life, inspiring character, who was also a recovering alcoholic with long term sobriety. He leads his hospital with integrity and fierce determination. Over the course of a few seasons, you watch his character deteriorate. He becomes dark, withdrawn, and unfocused. My daughter commented that she simply “didn’t like him anymore”.

It comes to light that the Chief has been drinking again. This explains the change in behavior. His portrayal of an alcoholic in the throes of relapse is astounding, and spot on. In fact, my daughter, upon realizing this, looked at me and said, “Mom, this is exactly how you acted before and right after your relapse”.

It made me seriously examine my own behavior in the months leading up to my relapse. I was relapsing long before I took that first drink. I was dark and shaken. The behavior I exhibited was much like the character on the show. The only way I can explain it now, is that it was as if the light in me had just gone out. The sparkle in my eye… the one that showed up as I got sober… had disappeared.

Getting sober again after a relapse can be difficult. You suddenly know exactly what it is you are giving up by going back out. You have tasted sobriety… and it was so damn good. But you gave it up for the old, sad life you were living. It is frightening.

good to be scared

As Chief Webber said on the show… “It’s good to be scared. It means you still have something to lose.” So today, I choose to allow myself to have just a little bit of fear. Fear keeps me on my toes, and it makes me realize that I do have something to lose. In fact, I have everything to lose.

~ Paige Loveland

Oh… To Wake Up One Day and Know!

waking up

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 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

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

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

The Journey Begins… Yet Again

serenity

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