Living ‘in the moment’ while in recovery

Today I would like to share with you an article written by Luke Pool.

Luke Pool is a grateful member of the Recovery community. He has found his purpose in life by helping those who suffer from the diseases of addiction. He uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about this epidemic, affecting every part of this country. Now working for Stodzy internet marketing, he is able to pursue his passion by informing as many people as possible about addiction. Originally from Austin, Texas he now lives in South Florida.

Thank you Luke for your contribution as Guest Blogger on From Struggle To Strength.

Disclaimer: Links on From Struggle To Strength to third-party sites do not constitute an endorsement by From Struggle To Strength of the parties or their products and services.

Living ‘in the moment’ while in recovery

Dane O’Leary

When a person is in the throes of active addiction, alcohol or drugs become the focal point of his or her life. Whether substance abuse has become an emotional crutch or it’s merely to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay, someone who’s suffering from addiction is always fixated on the next fix. And it’s not just one’s physical health that suffers from an addiction; alcohol and drug addiction often cost people their careers, relationships, financial stability, many other opportunities and sometimes even their lives.

Recovery is often portrayed as the solution to addiction, but that’s not exactly how it works. While addiction treatment programs allow individuals to overcome their alcohol and drug habits, recovery doesn’t right the wrongs they may have committed, repair relationships they’ve damaged, or give them back their careers. In the early stages of recovery, many individuals must come to the realization that getting their lives back on track is a process, and it’s a process that can, at times, feel overwhelming. However, it’s important that individuals in recovery are still living in the here-and-now, able to take full advantage of the opportunities that are right in front of them.

Contending with the past

Addiction often results in a profound personal transformation. After becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, a person often dresses differently, has a different social circle, and behaves much different than he or she ever had. Moreover, being dependent on the constant intake of chemical substances results in an ever-present desperation, which is the cause of many of the uncharacteristic behaviors that people suffering from addiction often exhibit. Consequently, many people make extremely poor choices while in the throes of active addiction. Some of these bad choices have relatively mild or short-term repercussions, but there are many cases where the  repercussions of poor choices made in the name of addiction have long-term or even lifelong repercussions, such as when addicts commit crimes to support their addictions.

Having made a number of mistakes while in active addiction, many individuals in recovery find themselves distracted by guilt and shame. In fact, the emotional consequences of poor behaviors can made daily functioning quite difficult, particularly when a person dwells on those behaviors. The result is that the individual feels guilty much of the time, preventing him or her from realizing each day’s full potential.

Without question, dwelling on the past is one of the main ways that people in recovery sabotage themselves. Although it can be difficult to forgive oneself for heinous acts, the reality is that nobody can change the past; further, for all the negative outcomes that were the immediate result of these poor choices, dwelling on them will only extend their negative influence. Instead, an individual should focus on finding ways to rectify those past mistakes, whether that makes making amends to someone he or she harmed or mistreated, or addressing some other type of situation. By finding a way to make past mistakes right, a person will feel much less guilt and shame, which means that past mistakes will be far less distracting, allowing a person to live in the moment and fully enjoy the fruits of his or her recovery efforts.

The future is full of possibility

After completing their addiction treatment programs, many individuals find themselves confronted by a mysterious future full of unknowns. Of course, nobody can predict the future, but in the most basic sense, addiction recovery provides a clean slate; having returned to a state of chemical independence, a person’s life no longer revolves around alcohol or drug use, meaning that he or she feels compelled to figure out what to do with his or her life. With so much of the future undetermined, there’s this looming feeling that a person must create some sort of plan or blueprint for the future. To an extent, it can feel like trying to play catch-up to all those people who have been building their futures for many years.

Even for someone who has been meticulously planning for the future for a long time, the unpredictability of the future can be distracting and scary, but it’s doubly uncomfortable for those in recovery. As such, a future full of unknowns can be extremely distracting to those in recovery, causing them to be more preoccupied about what tomorrow may bring and preventing them from enjoying what’s right in front of them.

On the other hand, living in the moment isn’t about disregarding the past and the future. When it comes down to it, living in the moment is about learning from the past and making good choices that will serve as stepping stones toward a positive, prosperous future. Being too concerned about the past or future to fully enjoy the here-and-now is a major disservice; as well, maximizing the present will maximize a person’s chances of having a fruitful future.

 

RETIRED FROM THE BALL AND CHAIN WAS SCARY. STARTING ANEW IS ALSO SCARY. BUT STAYING THE SAME IS THE SCARIEST. 

For the past year I have been talking about quitting my job and starting a business. For the past year it has been just that talk. Although I have taken certain steps to familiarize myself with the basics of the business. Reading books, online webinars, Meetup groups and seminars. I’ve done plenty of research and still hesitated to actually pull the trigger. 
I have been suffering from the results of fear. Fear has a way of paralyzing me and keeping stuck and stagnant. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Well my insanity was alive and well. I continued to be unhappy, going to a job that was making me miserable and unfulfilled. Dreaming of the day when my suffering would come to a end. 

I remember saying, posting and even blogging several times about being responsible for my own happiness. Sometimes I can give others the nudge they need but not apply my own advice. I am better at helping others and need to realize that I can also help myself. Nothing will change if nothing changes. I have to put in the same effort to help myself. 

This new business venture is scary. The thought of failing was taking precedence of the fact that I will succeed. The addict in me is prone to negative thoughts and feelings ever second of every minute of every day. If I am not careful those negative thoughts and feelings can and will become my reality. I have the track record to prove it. It has been my story for quite a while and I know that I am better than that. I know that I am capable of doing anything that I put my mind to. I also have a track record that prove that. 

Once I get over the initial fear, I am a beast. I accomplish the impossible. I still suffer from the effects of low self esteem and doubt. I have to be constantly reminded that I am capable of doing great things. I believe it, but have to be reminded at times. I am still a work in progress and will remember to not be so hard on myself. Critical thinking of oneself  whether  positively or negatively can have a effect on my outcomes. 

Living with the disease of addiction isn’t easy. Every day is a new challenge and the results vary. I am grateful that God placed me in this process because I have a hell of a lot more good days than bad ones. I know that if I didn’t make this move now and take the risk to change. A year, month, week or even day from now I would be regretting it. 

Today I make a lot more changes than I have regrets. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease

FORCING MYSELF TO FIT IN AND MAKING MYSELF UNHAPPY IN THE PROCESS. 

People pleasing has always in one way or another been a part of my life. I’ve done a lot of perverbial tap dancing to be a part of, to fit in, to be accepted, liked or loved. I sacrificed my morals, my instinct, my dignity, pride and self esteem all to feel like I belonged somewhere, anywhere. More often than not I wound up being used, lied to and left to lick my wounds curled up in the fetal position. 

The problem is that I know better now, but still find myself saying yes when I mean no, biting my tongue, walking on eggshells and again sacrificing my morals, instincts, dignity, pride and self esteem all for the sake of not creating waves or hurting someone else’s feelings. All the while neglecting my own feelings and then feeling like I’ve been done  wrong by others. 

The fact is I have been done wrong, but not by others. I have been done wrong by myself. I allowed it to happen, I set myself up for the disappointment, hurt and pain. By not expressing my true feelings, by lying by omission or out right saying yes when I should say no. 

I sit hear as I type this blog post and I realize that I cause myself more damage, more discomfort and disappointment than anyone ever could. So I suffer from the results of my own insanity. I suffer because I keep doing the same things expecting different results. The behaviors are the same, the people, the job and the years are the only difference. 

I am tired of this cycle, it always ends the same. The difference this time is I know that I have choices. I can choose to stay stuck, living in the safe zone or I can take this pain and use it to catapult me to the next level. I can use this as another learning experience and actually learn something from it. I need to start making my own mark, finding my own niche, paving my own way. 

I don’t need anyone to validate me. I need to validate myself. 

The Journey Begins. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease 

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE FEAR. MOVE OR BE MOVED. 

I remember all to well staying stuck in a never ending cycle. I was committed to the comfort of the pain, misery and suffering that came along with that cycle. I was locked and loaded in the grips of not only my addiction but the fear that kept me running around in circles like a dog chasing his tail. 

Fear is a animal all its own. It causes more damage than any mood or mind altering substance that I have ever taken and the effects last way longer. The damage caused by my fears have left a blood trail and DNA samples in every area of my life from the past to the present day. Fear has caused me to miss out on and pass up on many opportunities. It has played a major role in keeping my self-confidence and self-esteem low and along with the negative thoughts that constantly run through my fractured mind helped to fuel the fire of becoming comfortable with doing just enough to get by without having to go the extra mile to achieve a better life for myself. 

I always wished that I could change, I wanted it, I could imagine it, see it in my mind but could never make it become a reality because I was comfortable with underachieving. I became paralyzed by fear and settled for less than I was worth in every aspect of my life. I believed that I was OK where I was at. I lied to myself on numerous occasions and became accustomed to paying the high cost of living so low. 

My fears are not real, but, If I allow them to take hold then they become my reality. I am what I believe I am. I can do or cannot do what ever I tell myself I can or cannot do.  I am slowly learning this lesson today. It is a lesson that has played over and over, again and again in my life. It is still to this day a cycle that I struggle with. I can see the negative side of everything before I can see the positive side. Therefore I stop the thought or action before it can ever take hold. Before it gets started I allow the fears to take hold and change the outcome before I even try it. 

That’s my truth. For all the good things I accomplish. I have a lot of work that I still need to do. I know that it’s a process and it happens over time and not over night. I am not beating myself up. I am only sharing with you my story. My fears are just as alive today as they were when I was using and if I am not careful the results can end up the same without ever having picked up a drink or a drug. 

So I will practice being vigilant in recognizing the fears, working through them, sharing them and over coming the urges to submit to them. In other words leave the comfort of familiarity and enter into the uncomfortable zones. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease 

BREAKING UP WITH MY BAD HABITS AND CREATING NEW ONES. 

We all make choices every day. It’s within those choices that we are able to live either a healthy, positive life or a unhealthy, negative life. The choice is always ours. The decision to do right or wrong rests within our ability to make responsible choices. Today I am choosing to live a healthier lifestyle. 
I have been on this road before. Making New Year resolutions and having every intention of carry it out only to fizzle and fade by March. This time I am taking a different approach, this time I have a plan and I intend to carry it out to the best of my ability. I want to live a long life. I want to be able to enjoy the rest of the years that I have left without the worry and stressing about my health. 

The first phase was to get checked out. That means doctors, dentists and eye care. Check, check and check. The next phase was to get moving. I work in a environment where I don’t move too much. I sit all night and usually and munching on something unhealthy. So I got off my 225 lbs ass and joined a gym. I have consistently been going 3 days a week for 2 weeks. Yaaaaaay. Go me. I feel a difference already. For one thing, I am sleeping better. Along with the gym, I have also been on a healthy smoothie kick. Blending up greens like spinach, Kale and spring mix along with snacking on nuts and fresh fruits instead of the chips, cookies and sodas that I love so much. 

It has been a very challenging couple of months, but I am determined. I am  51 year old male, with a family history of high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes among other things. I have used and abused my body for years and by the grace of God I am for the most part pretty healthy. I will no longer take for granted that I will stay this way. I will continue to take responsibility for my health. I will make these things my new habits. 

The next phase will be to quit smoking cigarettes. The time has come to finally be free from nicotine and all the other harmful chemicals associated with tobacco. I will be praying and asking for guidance from my Higher Power. 

I will continue to do the work so I can continue to see the results. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease.  

MY RESULTS DEPEND ON WHAT I FOCUS ON. 

I remember when I was younger and the many different things that I wanted to do and be. As a child I can remember playing with my siblings and pretending to be this or that. It is a game that many children play. The difference between me and most kids is most grow up and begin to have goals and aspirations. I on the other hand stayed stuck. I allowed fear and other people’s opinions to shape and form my thoughts about myself. I fell into the vacuum of self doubt, pity and indecisiveness. I believed that I would never amount to anything and as a result proceeded to live out my life according to those lies. 

Addiction became my life. When I was a kid I played the game of I want to be this or that, but never did I say when I grow up. I want to be a addict. Who does that. No one, but many of us end up down that long endless road. My addiction started long before I ever picked up my first drug and is still going long after I picked up my last one. I will have the disease of addiction until I take my last breath that I know. I will not though be a victim of the lies that I tell myself nor will I allow my problems, situations or circumstances to keep me locked and loaded in a negative never ending spiral of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair. 

I am growing up. I am able to make healthy decisions and take responsibility for my actions today. That is huge. I am not that same old person and I refuse to allow anyone to treat me like I am. I am no longer focused on my problems from my past, nor do I dwell on my problems of the present. I have learned a valuable lesson since coming into recovery. I can either be a part of the problem or part of the solution. If I continue to dwell on the negative and only see my situations as a problem. I will miss out on growing and developing. I will not be able to see the solutions which in most instances are right in front of me and easy to apply. 

So just for today as I sit here writing this at 30,000 feet. I will keep my focus on the positive so I can continue to enjoy the benefits of what life has to offer. I will stay in the solution and be a part of the bigger picture. After all my results depend on what I focus on. 

What will you focus on? 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease. 

I AM WHAT I TELL MYSELF I AM

It wasn’t too long ago that I told myself that I would never get clean. That I was worthless, useless,  a failure, that I would never be able to stop using and that I would die a lonely death. 

The sad part is that I not only told myself that, but I believed it. 

My outlook on life was dismal to say the least. I had lost all hope of ever living a life that I could be proud of. I had already given up trying to live a life that would please my parents or anyone else. I lost all hope of ever reconciling with my family. I was the lost son. The failure,. The disappointment. 

All those lies I told myself for all those years took hold of my inner spirit. They manifested themselves through my actions and as I result, I lived down to them and then some. I became all that I told myself that I was. I became all that I told myself that I couldn’t be. 

Thoughts just like words are very powerful. But unlike words, I can take my thoughts back. I can shift my thought process at any given moment. But If I choose to allow my thoughts to turn into words and actions. Then all bets are off. 

I have learned some very valuable lessons in my journey in recovery. Of them all, the most valuable thing I have been able to take away from it is. I am what I think I am. I can think myself into a Happy, prosperous life. I life like I never imagined or I can think myself into a corner that I might not be able to come out of clean. I can allow my thoughts to propell me forward or I can allow them to block my blessings and revert back to my old pattern of attitudes and behaviors. 

The bottom line is that I have a choice. Life is a series of choices. The choices I make can either help me or harm me. It all begins and ends with my thinking. 

Peace and Blessings 

Eric Ease 

ADDICTION TAKES NO VACATIONS 

I have been blogging for 5 years 2 months and 7 days. I’ve been clean for 3 years 2 months and 23 days. One thing I have learned is that my addiction never takes a day off. It doesn’t rest or go on break. My addiction is alive and always on call. Ready to step in and cause friction, wreak havoc, tell me lies or isolate me from the herd. My addiction doesn’t take vacations. 
I say that because, as I told you all last week. I have been on the road to self destruction and decided to do something about it. The first thing I did was to tell on myself. First here on my blog and then in a meeting. I shared because I was scared. I am not ashamed to admit my fear of relapse today. I am not ashamed to admit that I am scared because I know all to well what happens when I keep secrets. 

Secrets Kill. 

So although my addiction doesn’t take vacations. I do. I am on a cruise ship right now with my wife and we are having a wonderful time. We are celebrating my birthday which is in 2 days on January 20th. We are sailing from Miami to Honduras, Belize, Cozumel and… We have been waiting patiently for this trip for months and are very happy in each other’s company when we travel. I love her and am grateful we are together. 

I for one know all too well that my addiction aka ME, doesn’t like to see me happy. I have been down this road before and screwed up again and again. More times than I care to mention. I also know that my addiction wants me dead but it will settle for me being miserable. It’s crazy but true. Addiction will have me kill my own self. My dreams and my aspirations. If I am not careful I can easily start believing all the bullshit that runs through my mind at any given moment every day. So I am taking the measures to protect myself.  

Being in a ship in the middle of the ocean where 95% of the people are drinking and drunk I have  made sure to carve out the time to make the on board meetings. Even though the meetings are from another fellowship I make sure to attend. I am grateful to be able to make a meeting in the middle of nowhere. It’s truly a blessing and one that I do not take for granted. It’s easier to use than to stay clean when I am not being vigilant with maintaining my recovery. 

I am responsible for my recovery. 

I will stay connected so I can stay protected. 

Peace and Blessings 

Eric Ease