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 He becomes dark, withdrawn, and unfocused.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

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

Complacency is a Dangerous Place

complacency

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

clarity

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.

single step

 

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

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