MY YEAR END REVIEW 

My year in review has been filled with many exciting chapters. I am thrilled at the prospect of what’s to come. 

2016 has been the most exciting and rewarding experience thus far in my journey in recovery. I am amazed at the things that I have accomplished this year. I started the year off being sick straight through the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Years as a result of taking a medication. One of the side effects of that medication was the lowering of my immune system. So my year started off kind of crazy. But I got to spend my 50th birthday in The Dominican Republic with my then girlfriend. That was a awesome experience. We had a amazing time and will do it again soon. 

Not soon after our trip,  on Valentines Day to be exact. I had the privilege and honor of proposing to my now fiancé. She said YES. It was the happiest day of my life. I love her and we are very happy together. We have been planning our wedding ever since and as of today we have accomplished the planning, invites, mailing and payments of the wedding and honeymoon. God is Good. 

We also had been dreaming of buying a house and moving out of New York. We started looking at homes March and after changing our minds countless times, we purchased a home in June,  closed and moved into our new home in September.

I started my online business in November. The store which was born out of inspiration from this very blog. Tee Shirts, Hoodies and more to come with the From Struggle To Strength logo on them. I am excited and thankful for all the support and encouragement that I receive on a daily basis.  We also had our first Thanksgiving in our new home. Our family and friends came and we had an amazing holiday. I am truly thankful for family. 

I have had many ups and downs along the way this year. I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences. The good and the bad. I am living, learning and enjoying life to the fullest. I know that it is God’s grace that has saved me from myself and allows me to be present in life today as it is happening. Not how I would have it. My life today is so much better than it was just 3 short years ago. And
It is only the beginning. 

I am definitely not the same person I was when this year began. I can’t wait to see the person that I am destined to become. 

Have a spectacular day. 

Peace and Blessings 

Eric Ease 

FROM STRUGGLE TO STRENGTH STORE 

First of all I want to thank my Higher Power for allowing me to see the other side of my addiction. The side that I used to think was not meant for me to live. I used to dream of a life without the use of drugs but never thought that I could have that life. It wasn’t in the cards, I wasn’t good enough to live the life that I saw so many others living. 

I believed those lies to be true. My destiny was to die an addict. I truly believed that. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t stop using. So I gave up. I quit trying, I lost all hope and settled for a miserable existence of a life. I became comfortable living life finding ways and means to get more. More pain, more misery and more suffering. 

I was blessed to be able to see not just another day, but several years. I remember being at the end of my rope. I remember wanting to die and just get it over with. I prayed for death because in my mind it had to be better than the life I was living. I didn’t know then, what I know now. There is a way out. 

I am still amazed at times how my life is turning out. I can’t believe how fortunate I have been and how many blessings I have received since getting clean. My life has been nothing short of a miracle. I live, love and laugh today and for that alone I am truly grateful. 

I have so many good people in my life who support and encourage me to be the best I can be. They help me to realize that the only thing that can stop me from realizing my dreams is me. I have blocked more of my own blessings than the Carolina Panthers have blocked opposing teams. Lol. (Taking a shot there).  

The last couple of years have been truly amazing. I have been doing everything that I always told myself that I could not do, only to find out that I can do it. 

I am excited to announce that I have finally been able to make one of  my dreams come true. I have started selling From Struggle To Strength Tee-shirts a few years ago mostly to friends and family. Today I have taken the steps to take my business to the next level. I have opened up my own online store. I am officially an entrepreneur. I have been dreaming of owning my own business for quite some time and this is the opening I have been looking for.  I am looking forward to one day being able to quit working for others as my business gains traction. 

I want to thank everyone who encouraged me to take the risk. Fear kept me doing it on a small scale. Overcoming that fear has allowed me to visualize bigger and better things in the future. I am thankful for the opportunity to share with you all my journey. Just as others have shared theirs with me. 

I hope that you are will share in my joy. Please feel free to stop by and check out the new site. 

The From Struggle To Strength Store 

SOME ARE IN MY LIFE FOR A REASON, OTHERS FOR A SEASON.

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On this Thanksgiving day, I am grateful for many things. Too many to count or even list here but I will share a few things that I have tremendous gratitude for today. First and foremost. I am alive, I have been blessed to see another day when I didn’t think that I would be alive this long. I am grateful that I have choices today and that I am responsible for my actions and for the consequences of my actions. I no longer blame others for the things that I myself have done. I am grateful for the ability to learn. Not only from my mistakes, but to learn from having a desire or passion to better myself and actually taking the steps to fulfill my dreams. I could go on and on but that is not the reason that I am posting today. Today I am posting about the gratitude that I have for the people that have been removed from my life.

I used to think that I did not deserve to be treated with respect, or to be in a healthy relationship. I didn’t think that happiness was in the cards for me and so I acted accordingly. I hung around the wrong crowds. I people pleased and performed like a puppet just to be around and liked by people. I’ve learned that today I do not have to act like you so you can like me. I do not have to perform, transform, pretend, front or be fake to be liked. If people expect that from me then they need to know that I am not that person you are looking for. If you want me to get involved with your drama “because you think that’s what a real friend would do”.

I am here to tell you. Not my monkey, Not my circus.

As a direct result of my new way of life, I have learned to respect and value myself, my time, my life. I have lost a lot of people. I am not saying that because I miss them or because I wish that they were still here. I am saying it because I realize my worth and I know that I am better off without them. I have learned to be like a tree and drop my dead leaves. Just like with the tree when dead leaves drop new ones take the place of the old ones. So will new friends take place of the old ones. Today I know that not everyone I meet will be a friend. Not every person that comes into my life today will be in my life tomorrow. I know that some are here for a reason, some are here for a season. Either way people cross my path to either teach me a valuable lesson or to help me learn a valuable lesson. Today I choose to associate with people who are not moving in the same direction as I am, but those who are already where I want to go. I choose to be taught by people who can help me learn the valuable lessons.

So yes, I am very grateful that those who are dead leaves have been removed from my life. Blown away by the winds of life only to make room for fresh new leaves. I am looking forward to growing new leaves, spreading my branches and planting roots that run deep and will stand firm when the winds of life blow.

THIS IS MY SEASON.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Happy Birthday From Struggle To Strength. It was 5 years ago on November 10, 2011.
That I wrote my first blog post. Back then it was used simply as a place for me to write down my thoughts, to be able to see my patterns and to free up some space in my head. I needed a place to vent. I was still using and I was sick and tired of the way my life had turned out. I was new to the concept of recovery and someone suggested that I create a journal. They suggested that I buy a book to jot down my thoughts. Well needless to say I was using so spending money on a book was not going to happen. Lol

I did however find a website called blogspot.

I created an account and I called it Eric’s Daily Struggle. I remember choosing that name because everyday was a struggle for me. Every day I struggled with the thoughts that raced through my mind. The Royal Rumble that was going on inside my head between good and evil. Wanting to stop using and continuing to use. With wanting to die but deep down inside wanting to live just a little bit more.

So by taking that suggestion 5 short years ago my personal journal has turned into my blog. After a couple of years of struggling with staying clean. I finally made a decision to get off the fence and stop struggling. I realized that it was all in the way I viewed my life and my circumstances. I decided to fight for my life and so I changed the name from Eric’s Daily Struggle to From Struggle To Strength. I became willing to do the work necessary to stop the daily struggle and to become strong enough to just say no and to actually mean it.

Well needless to say, I have come a long way since that first blog

MY BLOG. THE LIFE NOT FULFILLED

I am truly grateful for all the people I have met along the way as a direct result of my blog. I am grateful for the therapeutic value of writing down thoughts for it has taught me some very valuable lessons. I never realized when I began this journey that my words would help anyone not even myself and sometimes I still feel like I am not suited to be of any help by sharing my journey but I know that, that is not true. I know that the same way I get help from reading and hearing other people share their journey, my words have the same healing effect. I am thankful that I did not give up way back then. My blog has helped me to grow and in turn I am able to help others to grow as well.

So with that being said. I want to wish my blog a happy birthday. I want to thank my readers who comment on my posts too. I couldn’t have made it without all of your support and encouragement.

Here to the next 5 years and beyond.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

 

 

 

WHO AM I TO JUDGE.

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I can remember in my active addiction the lies and deceit that I have perpetrated. I can also remember those times that I was telling the truth and had wished that people would believe me. I remember the looks I used to get at work and everywhere else I went. The stares of disgust and the disapproving glares. I remember the hurt I felt. The shame and the abandonment.The embarrassment alone was enough to make me want to run. I used for years of that alone.  It wasn’t that long ago and the scars are still there. Some are fresh and others have long been absorbed, locked and stored away deep in my sub-conscience mind. Only to be awakened when a similar circumstance arises.

I always said that I would never judge another person solely on the fact that they had a problem with substance abuse. I always thought that I would be the first to have empathy when it comes to the still sick and suffering addicts. I truly believed that I could never look down on another person just because they were using. Being a recovering addict, I should be the last person to act like people did towards me. I have come to realize in a current situation that, that is not the case. I was in denial about it and after taking a self inventory of a situation that is playing out on my job right now. I find myself being very judgmental of a coworker. I find that I have not been showing care and concern towards this individual but instead I have been distancing myself and displaying those same looks of disgust and glares of disapproval.

I am guilty of doing the exact same thing that people did to me when I was using. I am ashamed of the way that I have acted towards this person the last couple of weeks. I have not been showing care and concern, I have not been living by the creed of one addict helping another. I have been cold and uncaring. I have been acting as if I do not know exactly where he is at, knowing damn well that I do. I have been in his shoes for years.

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I was not going to share this behavior because I was ashamed to admit it. I was more concerned with how people would view me if I admitted the truth. I always share my truth and that will never change, but I always try to share the good things, the good times. I have a hard time sometimes admitting that I am capable of making mistakes. That I am not perfect. Although I know that I am not nor would I want to be perfect. I still suffer from ego and image. I still worry about how people view me and want everyone to like me. I still suffer from low self-esteem. I have flaws and defects that I need to focus and work on. I am a work in progress not a finished product.The truth is I am not perfect. I am still capable of making very bad decisions and acting off impulse.

I am guilty of jumping on the band wagon. Everyone talks about this guy on the job and I find myself right along with them. Instead of being right there with him and letting him know that everything is going to be alright. Offering him a helping hand and showing him that there is a way out. I know better and it is my responsibility to share the escape route with others. To let them know that there is freedom from active addiction. But I chose to ignore my responsibility, to save face and hide my addiction. Oh course I have a responsibility to myself as well. Anonymity is very important but not at the expense of others. I can still help him and remain anonymous. So that is not a rational justification. That’s the addict in me trying to let myself off the hook.

I am grateful that I can see the error of my ways today and more importantly I can change them. I can and will take a long hard look at why I feel so comfortable judging someone that I have more in common with than not. Why I feel it’s ok to judge someone period. Have I been rocking myself right to sleep because I am living a life that I could only dream of a couple of years ago? Have I forgotten the hell that I have just came from? Or do I think I am better than now that I am not using? These are all questions that I will be looking at on a deeper level. I need to get back to the basics and plug myself back in. Rework my foundation and inventory my attitudes and behaviors. It’s time to check myself before I wreck myself.

I am far from better than anyone just because I no longer use.

If I forget where I came from, I will be doomed to repeat.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

 

 

THERE’S A REASON IT’S CALLED THE PAST. 

More often than I care to admit, I am reminded of my past. It’s not enough to stop using, become a productive member of society, change my life for the better. It’s not enough that I stopped stealing, lying, cheating and all the other things that came along with my addiction that I no longer participate in. It’s not enough for those that choose to continue to live in those moments and try to hold that old, tired, worn out guilt over my head.

I on the other hand have been able to move on from that point in my life. I have been able to forgive myself for staying stuck in that never ending cycle. I have learned a valuable lesson about living in the past. Holding on to past hurts, real or imagined have a damaging effect. Replaying those old tapes as if they just happened yesterday in looping succession. Has caused me to miss out on what was happening in the here and now. It has caused me to have resentments and hold grudges against people that have long forgotten about the situation.

Being an addict my thought process constantly gravitates back to any and all negative things and situations. It a built in mechanism brought on by fears of moving forward into the unknown. It’s also been known as self sabotage. Bring up the old and tie it to a new situation. Like making someone new pay for something someone old did to me. The end result is always the same. Missing out on an opportunity to move past it and grow from it.

I’ve been there.

Sometimes I revisit there.

But I no longer stay there.

I have learned the truth, and once I know the truth. I can no longer turn a blind eye. I can’t go back to not knowing. Well the truth is I can always act like I didn’t know but that is just plain denial. And we know that denial stands for Don’t Even No I Am Lying. Lying to myself. I have to face the truth, and the truth is. I know better. People say the truth hurts. But the reality is that the truth helps me to grow. Denial hurts.

I know that everyday that I am granted the blessing to wake up. I have the option to move forward or move backwards.

I have chosen to move forward and I am grateful for the continued chances to do it over and over again. Everyday. Sometimes more than once in a day. I can start my day over anytime I choose to. The outcomes of  moving forward are unknown and that makes them exciting. The outcomes of living in the past are the same and that makes them outdated and redundant. I would much rather keep walking and looking in front of me than try to walk forward and be looking back.

What a magnificent gift.

Peace and blessings.

Eric Ease

INSIDE JOB

I finally understand what it means when they say it’s an inside job. When I first heard this my interpretation was way off. Along with my interpretation of everything else, it was negative. 

Negativity the driving force of my existence for years held me hostage in  never ending cycles of destruction, chaos,  despair and isolation. I just didn’t understand why everything that was happening kept happening.  I certainly didn’t believe that I was the cause of my own misery. So of course I blamed everyone else. 

I needed to change. I needed to find  something different and I alone had to do it. No one could do it for me. I alone have the power to change my situations and circumstances. I heard it before but I acted as if I didn’t know. I said that I didn’t know and began to believe that I didn’t know . I didn’t know because I didn’t want to know. I kept myself in the dark for fear of what I would find. I was afraid to get to know the real me. Afraid because of the lies I always told myself about myself. Ones like no one would like me or want me around. Like I am unlikable, unloved , unwanted and unworthy. 

I thought myself right out of friends, family, jobs and life in general. 

I didn’t know then, what I know now. I didn’t know that in order for me to change my circumstances , I had to first change my thinking. I also had to change my attitude and behaviors. I had to be willing to take a long hard look at me and then put forth action. I had to do some work . Hard work. I didn’t think I could do it. I am grateful for the men and women who helped me to believe that I could. They loved me until I was able to love myself and they still love me today even when my skies are gray. 
It’s truly a blessing to have the power to make healthy choices, to be able to make mistakes and grow from them. To see the results of the choices that I make having a positive impact on my life and the life of others. I’m grateful that I can start my day over at any given moment instead of staying stuck going in the wrong direction. 

I wouldn’t trade this life for nothing in the world. Because I finally understand that it starts and ends with me.

It truly is a inside job. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease

THROUGH GOD’S GRACE AND MERCY. I AM GRATEFUL . 

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As I look back over the last 3 years, I am amazed at all the things that I have accomplished . It wasn’t to long ago that I was in a state of utter desperation and despair. I was lost, lonely and fighting,  what I thought was a losing , pointless battle .

Through God’s grace and mercy . Yesterday I celebrated 3 years clean of any and all mind and mood altering substances. (Except for those Damn cigarettes) . I never thought that I could do it. I never imagined that I would ever stop using . I believed deep down that I was a lost cause and for many years lived to prove just that.

I couldn’t have been more mistaken . I was misinformed. Everything that I thought I knew about myself and my life was a lie. Lies that we’re formed in insecurity, low self esteem and self hatred. Lies that we’re formed following others instead of being the leader that I was destined to be.

Recovery has changed my life. I am learning to think differently and as a direct result, I am living differently. I am finally experiencing the life that I was meant to live. I have found the freedom that I believed was only meant for others. I am learning to live life as it is not as I would like it to be. I am a changed man and truly grateful.  I have been blessed to live 2 lives in 1 lifetime. That is a precious gift that I will never again take for granted .

Thank you to everyone who believed in me when I did not believe in myself.

Peace and blessings

Eric Ease