2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

HAPPY, HEALTHY AND SAFE NEW YEAR

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Hello my friends,

As we come to the close of yet another year. I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for all of your support, love and encouragement. I want to let you know how much I truly appreciate you for taking the time to read my blog, post your comments and reply to comments made.

I have been blessed with an abundance of new and exciting friends and I am truly grateful to have made the acquaintance of each and every one of you whether in person, through social media or right here on From Struggle To Strength.

I look forward to interacting with you all in the New Year 2016. I wish everyone nothing but success and happiness and that we all learn the lessons that we are meant to learn when we face the inevitable hardships of life. I am eager to start this next chapter and to bringing the pages of my blog alive for the world to read along with me.

Thank you all for being on this wonderful journey with me. See you next year.

Peace and blessings

Eric Ease

TRUSTING MYSELF

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I have allowed fear of success to keep me stuck in a never ending cycle of not attempting things. If I did attempt something I would give up when things got to difficult or when things weren’t moving as fast as I felt they should be. I would allow others to move forward when I knew that I was more than qualified to step up. I would dumb down so as not to draw attention to myself.

The funny thing about that is, whenever I attempted something and was successful I realize that it wasn’t even as difficult or scary as I originally thought. I see that the fear I had wasn’t even necessary and just by my being consistent and not giving up. I accomplished the task.

I find that I also do this when asked questions. I have always had a fear of tests. Taking tests and being quizzed make me somewhat uncomfortable and I will get nervous and anxiety causes me to just say I don’t know rather than risk being wrong. I know the answer but I will freeze and then just not answer it. Whenever I know I have to take an exam, I get all worked up before the actual test, but usually after the exam is over I find out not only did I pass but I actually did very well.

I have come to learn in recovery that I have caused some real damage to my self esteem, self worth and the way that I see myself and talk to myself. I allowed my past failures and disappointments to dictate my life and determine my life’s direction. I have been practicing elevating my self esteem by not allowing my past to remain prevalent and not placing so much importance on those failures and disappointments. I have been practicing positive self talk and allowing myself to actually believe the compliments that people give me. I have been allowing myself to give me my own pat on the back.

I know deep down that I am smart, worthy of love and friends and that I am capable of doing anything that I put my mind to. I need to remember to keep that up front and smash the negativity that has run unopposed for so long. I know way more than I let others think I know. I need to stop dumbing myself down just to fit in. That is a behavior that I have practiced in my active addiction and it’s gone on long enough. I will no longer allow my fear to keep me from rising to my full potential.

I will trust myself and start experiencing the full benefits of what I have to offer myself and others.

Peace and blessings

Eric Ease

LEARNING TO LISTEN, LISTENING TO LEARN

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I remember the first time I heard the slogan take the cotton out of my ears and put it in my mouth. I had no clue as to what it meant and therefore I couldn’t understand how that was going to help me to stay clean. I didn’t have any cotton in my ears and I surely wasn’t going to put any in my mouth. I used to look at a lot of the slogans that way. I would only think literally and couldn’t see the bigger picture.

The longer I stayed the better my understanding of the slogans and literature became. With the help of more experienced members. I started to be able to apply certain things to my life and my process became just that much easier. I developed an open mindedness towards the application of honesty and had the willingness to try something new.

Listening was difficult for this addict because I always thought that I knew everything. I was smarter than you and there was nothing that I could learn from you. So naturally when people talked I payed very little attention. I barely listened to what you were saying and always wanted to be heard. I cut people off when they were speaking and was arrogant and quite obnoxious at times.
(I realize this today).

I came into recovery with that same know it all attitude. I would pick and choose who I spoke to and even then wouldn’t take the suggestions and always wanted to tell the helper how to help me. I did what I wanted to do even when advised against it and I couldn’t understand why I could not stay clean. I blamed every one and every thing except myself for my relapses and even then still wouldn’t listen. In my mind the program worked it just didn’t work for me.

Needless to say I caused my process to be a lot harder than it needed to be. All I had to do was listen so I could learn how to stay clean. All I had to do was take the cotton out of my ears and put it in my mouth. Stop talking long enough to hear what people were saying. Stop acting like I knew everything and accept the help being offered to me. Accept it and not try to tell them how they should help me. Stop running off my own program. You know the one that hadn’t worked since day one, but I kept using the playbook anyway. Stop for a minute and listen.

Today by the grace of a higher power I have gotten a lot better. I’m not saying that I am cured of it. No way. I am open to listen to others and actually take a look at what they are saying. I’m not as quick to dismiss people today. I am willing to try new things. Lol
(Sometimes with a little convincing).
I have learned that my way doesn’t work. My way is what got me all those years of pain, misery and suffering. My way is the long difficult way. I am not above, better than or smarter than you and I can actually learn from anyone no matter if they are new or old.

If I just learn to listen , when I listen I might just learn something.

MY VACATION IS OVER. WAAAAAH WAAAAAH SNIFF SNIFF

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I am grateful for many things. I have a higher power today that allows me to have the faith that anything is possible. I have friends today that I can actually count on when I need them. I am working on relations with my family. I have a job that I actually can show up for. I am healthy, a lot better than I should be for someone that has been through what I survived. I have the most amazing and wonderful woman in the world in my life. I have been afforded yet another opportunity to experience the blessings that I have taken for granted for so long.

I could continue but I would never be able to write down all the things that I am grateful for. I can only express my gratitude by continuing to live life doing the next right thing. I finally understand and accept that I do not have all the answers. That I do not know everything and I will never be too old to learn. I learned things from some of the most unlikely of people. People I probably would never have met or ever spoken to if not for the process of recovery.

As a result of my new way of life, I am learning how to enjoy the journey and not always look ahead to the finish line. Living a day at a time has helped me slow down and experience the joys that have passed me by for so long. Simple things that bring about joy. Going on vacation. Spending time with my friends and going to functions and events. Going on road trips, making meetings in other states, connecting with people whom I only knew on social media. Sharing our experiences, having laughs and breaking bread.

Life looks really good from where I am standing. I owe it all to my Higher Power, Network, Recovery and my own willingness to try something different. I wouldn’t trade this for anything.

Live, Love, Laugh and Let Go
Peace and blessings

Eric Ease

BEING CAREFUL HOW I TALK TO MYSELF

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The way I talk to myself can determine how my life will take shape. I have learned that negative self talk can stunt my growth and keep me stuck in a never ending cycle of negativity and self destruction.

For many years there was only one type of conversation that I had with myself. It was always negative and downgrading. I always knocked myself for not being this or that. I would be very hard on myself and I began to believe those lies at a very early age. So for decades I believed that I was worthless and useless. I couldn’t see my potential let alone believe that I was capable of doing anything worthwhile. Needless to say I made a lot of excuses and procrastination became a way of life. I would allow my negative voice to take hold and I would talk myself out of even attempting to achieve even the simplest tasks.

One of the greatest lies I told myself was I would never be able to stop using. That I would die using drugs and that’s just the way it was going to be. So of course telling myself this I would never try hard to stop. I tried the bare minimum and when it didn’t work that was just a reinforcement of the lie. I didn’t realize then, that It was me sabotaging myself from the start. That I was speaking it into existence every time I told myself that I couldn’t. I became so toxic to myself that I saw no way out and believed it to be my destiny.

Well I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I first started my journey in recovery. I was full of negativity, negative self talk and doubt. As a result I couldn’t stay clean. I would pick and choose what I would apply because I believed I was wasting my time. After a few tries and some suggestions from more experienced members. I began to make some progress. With that progress came hope. The hope that I could actually stay clean became positive self talk. I can do this. I am doing this. My life began to change and my hope turned into faith. I began to talk different to myself and others. I began to believe in myself and my ability to stay clean. I was sold on the idea and I haven’t looked back since.

I also learned that a positive attitude towards life in general can change things. I decided to try it in all areas of my life. By applying a few basic principles like Honesty, Open Mindedness and Willingness my life has changed tremendously. I still have my moments of doubt and negativity. After all I’ve been that way for decades. The difference is I do not allow it to dictate my life’s direction today. I can choose to stay in a funk of negativity or change my thoughts to the positive things.

Today I choose to be positive. It’s always a choice. I am grateful for the ability to make better decisions. It makes a world of a difference.

NO LONGER ASHAMED

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I remember being ashamed to show my face in my active addiction. I was ashamed of who and what I had become. I didn’t want people to see me that way. So I made it my business to isolate myself from my family. I used to look in the mirror and cry. I was horrified at what I saw. I was embarrassed at what I turned into. I didn’t even recognize myself. That person (thing) looking back at me wasn’t even a shadow of my former self.

In the end I was a lost soul. I stopped looking at the monster in the mirror. I didn’t want to see myself. I saw all the looks I used to get when I was on the train and at work. But even those embarrassing moments weren’t enough to make me stop. No not me. I just got a attitude, more anger and resentments.

When I came into recovery, before I truly understood that I could get the help I so desperately needed. I was ashamed of my past. I was ashamed of telling anyone my story. I sat in the meetings and I punched holes and scrutinized everything I heard. I was afraid of more judgement so I sat in silence and I suffered alone. I remember feeling conflicted when I heard things that I could relate to. I still couldn’t bring myself to tell my story.

It took me some time to start to see that my past couldn’t hurt me anymore. I had to learn the hard way to start seeing how far I have come instead of how far I had to go. After several relapses I began to understand that I was making progress. That I was changing and that I couldn’t compare my process with anyone else’s. I began to understand that I had to stop being ashamed of my past and talk about it. I began to understand that I was only as sick as the secrets I kept. I took the risk and exposed some things that I was feeling and so my process began.

Looking back I see that my being ashamed held me back. It stopped me from being able to see how far I had come and all the things I had overcome. Fear kept me locked and loaded in my vicious cycle. Today I am no longer ashamed. I see that my struggle gave me the strength to survive. I share my experiences openly without fear of judgment. There’s nothing that I share that anyone can hurt me with. I’ve already done that myself. I am experiencing a freedom that cannot be adequately described in words. I can only say that I have never lived this good. My gratitude for the recovery process is through the roof.

I can see where I’ve been very clear, I can see what I’ve overcome even clearer. I am damn proud of my accomplishments.

I wish that everyone can experience this feeling.

DOING SERVICE

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Today was the first night of my Training for my H & I commitment. It was interesting being in a detox and listening to the residents share about their plans after they leave. What was really interesting was the fact that they all knew they needed help, we’re eager to participate and all planned on going from the detox into residential treatment facilities.

One guy shared and I was reminded of my own story. We have a lot in common as far as our journey through addiction. I am still amazed sometimes when I hear someone that I don’t know and have never met share my story. I reminds me that I am not unique and I am definitely not alone.

I always feel a sense of gratitude when I leave a detox. I have had my share of treatment facilities and institutions. Although when I was in them I didn’t utilize the life saving information because I was still in denial and wasn’t ready to stop. Although I had a inkling of an idea there was a problem, I didn’t take the suggestion to make a meeting when I got out. I always felt the need to go show everyone how good I looked and it always ended with me using with those same people.

Staying away from people, places and things is one of the suggestions that I never listened to. I relapsed several times as a direct result. I have people, places and things in my family and my neighborhood. I had to learn how to work around them. It wasn’t easy but I eventually was able to get and stay clean in the same neighborhood that I used in. I still live in the same area but I have made some drastic changes to when I go out and what routes I take.

I am in no way saying that it’s OK. That you should go around the old familiar playgrounds, but I had to do it for me. I could have moved away but no matter where I go, drugs will be there. I will be there. I had to do it for myself. I had to be stronger than my addiction because my life depends on it. I have changed neighborhoods before and sought out the people who used very easily. The cycle remained the same until my thinking changed.

I’ve been blessed to have lived 2 lives in 1 lifetime. I am staying clean and working vigorously to keep my recovery. It is my responsibility and I take it very seriously. I’ve taken life for granted in the past and today I know how truly precious life is. I also know that I am not promised tomorrow. If I go back out and try it again. I will not make it back. I keep that thought first and foremost in my mind. Part of maintaining my recovery is sharing my experiences and giving back what was given to me. That is why I feel so strongly about doing service in H & I. I have an obligation to give back. It is my duty to help others who are still suffering in the grips of active addiction.

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I have found my purpose beyond sharing here on my blog. Hospitals and Institutions is the next level that I have been looking for. I will be giving back to others and helping myself at the same time. That is truly a blessing.

Peace and blessings

Eric Ease