PLANTING THE SEED.

First and foremost. I thank God for saving my life and giving me another opportunity. I know that it was devine intervention that planted the seed of recovery in my life and that same devine intervention allows me to be able to share my experiences with all of you. 

Knowing what I know. It would be not only selfish of me but a down right waste if I didn’t give back what was so freely given to me. I would not be able to keep it, I would have simply squandered it away. I would have taken this gift for granted like I did so many other times. Not realizing the blessings that were bestowed upon me. 

My self centeredness and egotistical self would have me believe that I did all of this on my own. It would have me believing that I was owed this and I deserve it because of all the hard times I have been through. But that’s not true. Nobody owes me a damn thing. In fact it’s the other way around. I owe. I owe a debt that can never be replayed. The only way I know how to attempt to at least make some amends is by giving back. Showing the still sick and suffering addicts that recovery is possible. By letting the family members of those addicted know that recovery is possible. There is a way out and you too can get clean. 

My hopes with my blog from the start was that I, by writing my story and sharing my experiences would be able to reach those that were still affected. By reaching them my dream was to give them the hope that I had received when I was caught up in the grips of my addiction. The hope that one day I would be able to stop using and live a semi normal life. The hope that one day the pain and suffering would stop. The hope that one day I would have my family back. The hope that one day I would be able to experience love. 

I have been afforded the opportunity to experience all of those things and for this I am very grateful. I owe my life to my Higher power and the process of recovery. 

That seed that was planted many years ago, that took several years to cultivate and finally began to produce some results. I remember thinking that I could never get clean, that I would never stop using. I remember the feelings of utter despair and hopelessness. I remember wanting to end it all. I remember it well. But I also remember the people who believed in me. The people who helped me to believe in myself. I remember those people who kept telling me that I could stop using and one day I will get clean. I remember them actually wanting and telling me to keep coming back. 
I am grateful to those people who loved me and prayed for me. Those people who helped cultivate and shape me into a person who began to believe. I remember beginning to believe that I could and would get clean and guess what. I did. 

I look back and I am filled with gratitude for all those that took the time to plant the seeds. Because I was able to overcome those lies planted in my heart by those who tried to bury me. 

So for anyone that may be reading this and thinking like I used to. Thinking that you cannot stop, that you will never get clean. Trust me when I tell you. Don’t believe those lies. You can get clean. You can get your life back. You can. I believe in you. I know you can. If I can do it so can you. Give yourself a break. It won’t be easy, it doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen. One day at a time. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will be more than happy to help you any way I can. 

In recovery there’s hope and the promise of freedom. That an addict, any addict. Can stop using drugs. Lose the desire to use and find a new way of life. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease 

SUMMER MEALS PROGRAMS NEAR YOU. 

Just thought I would share in case some of you know famlies that are stressed about feeding their kids now that they will be out of school.

If you have or know of a school-aged child in need of breakfast and lunch this summer, simply text “FOOD” to 877877. You will receive a message back with a location closest to where they can get free summer meals. This is a NATIONAL program so anyone can benefit no matter where you’re located. (Please copy, paste, and post! Even if you aren’t in need, someone else’s kids might be. No child deserves to go hungry.) 

Thank you

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease 

THE BATTLE IN MY BRAIN. CAN DRIVE ME INSANE. 

Lately. I have been struggling with living life on Life’s terms. I have been all over the place and in my head for long periods of time. I know that dwelling on the negative self destructive thoughts that pass through my head for too long is not healthy. It seems that no matter what I do to switch the thoughts off or into positive thoughts. They make their way right back to the forefront. I have shared about it, prayed on it and even cursed myself telling the thoughts to shut the F up and thank you for sharing. It lasts only for a short period of time. 

I still suffer from instant gratification and I want what I want. And I want it now. With that being said. When things are not moving forward as fast as I feel they should be. I begin to doubt myself and those old feelings kick up. The old behavior of self sabotaging myself wants me to quit and resolve this the old fashion way. The new me knows better and knows that if I choose that route I will only lose in the end. I have grown and will continue to grow as long as I keep the focus and stay on this path. If I choose to allow the fear and negativity to take precedence then all bets are off. Jails and institutions are a part of my past but if I am not vigilant they can also be a part of my future. I do not ever wish to be deprived of my freedom ever again. 

Depression is real and I am suffering from feelings of depression lately. I know the effects of depression and the thought process that can lead me to think that all this is not worth it anymore. I’ve been down this road before in active addiction but it’s totally different fighting it clean. I am grateful that I have a program, tools and people who love and support me. I am also thankful that I am in touch with my Higher Power and have some faith and spiritual principles to help guide me through the tough times. The devil is a liar and will try to come at me any way it can especially when I am at a weak point. I am so grateful that knowing that is half the battle. Sharing and continuing to move forward is the other. I will keep moving forward and not allow the past to take me prisoner again. 

I will continue to talk about it, scream about it and even kick and stomp about it. BUT I SURE AS HELL WON’T USE ABOUT IT. This too shall pass.
Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease 

STOP LOOKING OUTSIDE MYSELF FOR THE SOURCE OF MY DISCOMFORT 

The fact of the matter is. I am responsible for my own actions and outcomes. I can sit around all day and point fingers and play the childish blame game, but the truth always points back to me. 

What am I doing to change. What am I doing to make the situation better. What part do I play in what ever the situation is. What am I doing to fix the problem so I can move on. 

It’s easier for me to look at what others are doing or not doing in a situation. To blame myself and take responsibility is something that I am working on and it’s not easy. I am so used to seeing everyone else as the problem that I fall short on seeing what part I play. The blame game is something that I have done for years and found that deep inside I still play it. It’s a built in defense mechanism that has worked for me in my active addiction. 

(Or so I thought) 

But the truth is not taking responsibility for my actions helped to keep me sick and suffering. The self centeredness that is always present didn’t allow me to ever think of me being the blame for anything. Unfortunately it is still quite active in certain areas of my life today. It is something that I am aware of and I am working on correcting. Sometimes I can catch myself before it takes hold and other times I have to take a deeper look to spot it. Either way I am aware of it and I do not allow it to wreak the usual havoc in my life. 

I have to constantly remind myself that I am not in control of what others think or do. I can only make sure that I am doing what I need to do. Looking outside myself for the source of my discomfort or for others to make decisions or to make a first move or whatever is not being responsible. It is not taking action and it is not conducive to the main goal. It is not healthy and will only cause me to become bitter, resentful and disappointed because I set myself up to be let down due to certain expectations. 

So my goal is to ask myself everyday if I did my best for that day. Did I go the extra mile. Did I do something different or difficult today. Am I taking responsibility for my actions today. Did I blame you for something that I am responsible for. 

Did anything change in my actions or responses today?

I will focus on keeping my own backyard clean and let others take care of theirs. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease 

LONG LOST BUT NOT FORGOTTEN FAMILY. 

I hear a lot of people say a lot of things about social media and not all of it is good. I completely understand when I see people post pictures of family members on their death beds or even laying in their caskets. I believe that those things are deeply personal and should not be posted on social media. But that’s my personal opinion and I have no right or reason to try to force my opinions on anyone. To each his own. 

On the other hand I see a lot of people who post graduation pictures, wedding and anniversary pictures and pictures of newborns and baby pictures. Happy times from holiday celebrations and the like. 

Social Media has become one of the fastest growing outlets for communications and is growing by leaps and bounds everyday. I for one never thought that it would be as wildly popular as it has become and definitely didn’t think that I would ever use it the way that I do now. I went from having a Facebook page that I barely used to now using it everyday all day. To also having Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Instagram, Instant messaging and of course WordPress for my blog From Struggle To Strength. I also have a online store. Amongst other things. 

In all the years that I have been using social media I never once thought of it as a vehicle to find family members that I haven’t been in touch with. So let me tell you. It’s a small world. Through a friends happy birthday post to her Mother that I replied to, I got a notification that someone else made a comment on that post. Usually I ignore those notifications because I find them to be highly irritating. But as I looked at the name of the person who commented I saw that we had the same last name. Then I said wait a minute I have a cousin by that name. So out of curiosity I checked that person’s page. BAM. Just like that BAM it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was my cousin whom I haven’t spoken to in over 30 years. I was shocked, amazed and overwhelmed all at the same time. 

I felt a little apprehensive at first. I mean it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen her. What if this and what if that ran through my mind. Then I realized that it was you know who trying to keep me isolated and I immediately shut those thoughts down. I sent her a message and a friend request. Shortly after she sent her phone number and said to call her. I called my long lost cousin and we spoke for the first time in over 30 years. She told me a lot of things that had happened over the years and I did the same. We made plans to meet up when I was coming to NY. I also got the chance to get phone numbers of her siblings and spoke to them as well.

I had the pleasure of meeting up with my cousins this past weekend. It was an amazing feeling seeing them again but to add some icing to this cake, I also got to meet the next 2 generations of cousins as well. My cousins children and some of their children. It was a little overwhelming and I was at a loss for words but at the same time it was a fantastic and awesome experience. One that I won’t soon forget. I still have quite a few other cousins that I have yet to see and meet but this opened the door and I look forward to it. I feel like the soldier who was lost at war and presumably dead only to be found alive and reunited with his family. In a sense that is exactly what happened. The only difference is the war that I fought was a battle within myself. But it was a war none the less. They both have casualties and cause enormous pain and suffering. 

Needless to say I finally began to realize what had been missing since I’ve gotten clean. I am realizing now that there had been a void that was causing me to have some resentments. The void of missing my family and of feeling alone. A void that I created many years ago locked and loaded and caught up in the grips of my addiction. Suddenly I felt a weight being lifted of my shoulders. I suddenly realized that I need to get connected with my family. I need my blood family in my life just as much as I need my recovery family in my life. 

This weekend we are meeting up again. I am sure the majority of the families will be there and I am looking forward to it. I am grateful that God placed me in a position to reunite with my loved ones. He knew exactly what I needed. This will be the jarring experience that will bring forth a more rigorous effort of me reaching out to my family members from both sides of my family that I have been MIA from for too long. 

And to think that it all was made possible by a Facebook post. 

Stay tuned because the journey continues. 

RECOVERY  in all areas of our life IS POSSIBLE.

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease  

DON’T BE FOOLED BY THE LIES

The lies. 
You know the ones we tell ourselves. I’m not good enough. I can’t do it. I will never change. I’m not worthy. So on and so on. 

The sad part is that I believed those lies for years. I’ve told myself these lies for so long that I couldn’t see past them to the truth. I was stuck in a cycle of pity and self loathing. Low self esteem helped to drive the nails home that sealed my coffin. I was or at least I thought I was finished. I couldn’t seem to find a way out. I continued along in my cycle destined to remain the same with no hope of ever changing. 

I didn’t realize then what I know now. 

I did not know that my addiction ran deeper than the drugs that I was consuming. I didn’t know that my addiction started long before I ever picked up that first-time. I never knew that I have  built in self destruction that is hell bent on destroying me and it starts and ends with my thinking. I didn’t know that if I change my thinking, I could change my life. 

I am what I tell myself I am.  

It all depends on the thoughts that I focus on. The thought that I feed will be the thought that wins. It’s really just as simple as that. If I tell myself that I cannot do something and I feed that thought by listing all the reasons why I can’t do it. I will eventually talk myself right out of trying it. Therefore I have failed without even having given a ounce of effort. And as a result I will remain the same. In the same frame of mind, the same circumstances  and will continue to get the same results. 

On  the other hand, 

When I quite those negative thoughts and allow the positive thoughts to take their rightful place. Feed those thoughts with positive reinforcement, hope, faith, optimism and add actions to it. I can and will see different results. I will in turn begin to gain the courage and self esteem therefore establishing the confidence to continue and create a new habit. 

That habit is the beginning of the transformation of change. 
It starts and ends with me recognizing my own bullshit and stopping the vicious cycle before it takes hold. Killing it at the roots. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN HEAVEN. REST IN PEACE DAD. 


I want to take time out to recognize the man who is partly responsible for making me the person that I am today. 
My father was a strong, intelligent and caring person. He always made time for his children and made sure that we were well taken care of. He never gave up on me and went to every and any length to get me help. I was just too caught up in the grips to accept it. 

My Dad died in August of 2001 at the very young age of 63. He will forever be loved and missed. I pay homage on this what would have been his 79th birthday. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD. I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU VERY MUCH. 

Love

Eric 

ANY MEANS NECESSARY

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I was thinking about when I was caught up in the grips of my active addiction and the many different things I did to get that NEXT ONE.

I remember going anywhere at any time of the day or night. I would travel to the moon if it were possible to get my next hit. I would walk the streets for hours at all hours of the night, in the most dangerous neighborhoods with no concern for my health or well being. I’ve taken many chances and took my life for granted on many occasions. I took advice from people whom I would never be likely to ever speak to normally. I went with people that I had no idea if they were legit or trying to hurt me or steal from me. I used substances that I had no idea if they would kill me. I was very open minded when it came to the ways and means to get more.

When I look back on my days years of using, I am amazed that I am still here. What’s even more amazing is my willingness to stay clean. I never thought that I would ever, never, ever be able to stop using drugs. I was a hardcore addict. I used to live, lived to use and when the euphoria wore off. I used more and more. I truly believed that I would die a addict. That I would die wasn’t the scary part either. In fact in the end I wanted to die more than anything else. I couldn’t stop using but I was tired of the way I was living. I couldn’t see any other way out. I didn’t know then what I know now to be true.

Recovery Is Possible…

I am forever grateful that I was lead to recovery and the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous. It has saved my life. I life that I was ready to end. I didn’t understand how lucky I was to be in recovery in the early stages. Afterall I had been in and out of treatment centers, recovery houses and institutions for many years and none of that seemed to work. So what was so different about this.. That was the attitude that I came into recovery with. The same attitude that I had for years and for years got the same results, so I didn’t stay, I went about it all wrong. I didn’t plug in, I didn’t participate, tell the truth, be open minded, willing or take any of the other suggestions that I was given. I relapsed time after time and began to think that recovery worked for others but it wouldn’t work for me. Can you relate to that?

Needless to say. I took some more ass whoopings before I eventually realized that if I was ever going to change, I had to change. I had to change the way I was thinking and behaving. I had to become willing to do something about the way I was living. I had to become open to listen and stop saying I know. I didn’t know. My ego would not allow me to be open to learn new things so I proceeded to act like I knew everything. SMDH. Well let me tell you. I learned the hard way but I learned. I began to feel change after I allowed myself to become teachable. I began to become honest when the pain of living a lie became to great. I became addicted to the way my life was changing and I wanted more. It was a no brainer that took me years to understand. The process of recovery is so simple, but I made it so difficult. I suffered for years thinking there was no way out when the answer was right in front of me the whole damn time. I just refused to accept it.

I thank God for the many people who believed in me when I was unable to believe in myself. I am grateful to the rooms and all of the wonderful people in them. The literature, step work, sponsors, ,members, and especially the slogans. I took hold to the slogans and would recite them to myself whenever I felt a urge coming. I especially liked NO MATTER WHAT. I began to believe that no matter what happened. I didn’t have to use and I repeated that one slogan to myself day in and day out. I kept showing up to meetings, I made new friends and began to like myself just enough to keep coming back. I often wondered how people got the clean time they had, I would hear someone say 5,10,15 or 20 years clean and in the beginning I didn’t believe it. Today I know it’s true and I know how they are accomplishing it.

One day at a time

BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

I never have to use another mind or mood altering substance.

NO MATTER WHAT.

 

Peace and blessings.

Eric Ease

NO SHORT CUTS, QUICK FIXES OR MAGIC ELIXIRS 

I remember always wanting to do things, wanting to change things and wanting to be things. I also remember not wanting to do much to accomplish those things. Always the procrastinator, wishing or allowing others to do the majority of the footwork and then coming in on the tail end trying to reap the benefits. 

I lived my life according to the basic principles of lazy, do nothing or at least the bare minimal. I always looked for the easy way out. If it took the slightest bit of a effort. I wanted no part of it. I couldn’t understand why I never achieved the highest grades, highest pay or any recognition for my effort. I actually thought that I deserved recognition. Lol. 

The addict in me wanted everything for nothing. I was the poster child and that was my motto, my creed. I really had a sense of entitlement.

 I was in need of a rude awakening. 

I received that awakening several times when I tried to get clean. I came into the fellowship with a closed mind, lack of enthusiasm, know it all attitude and street mentality. I would pick and choose what I would apply, what suggestions I would take, who I would associate with and so on and so on. I found out the hard way that way just doesn’t work. Wishing that I could stop using doesn’t work. Lying to others doesn’t work. I found out that,  hard work does. Honesty, open mindedness and willingness work. Learning how to ask for help works. 

I had to come to the conclusion that if I wanted something different. I had to do something different. I found out that I couldn’t take shortcuts. That I couldn’t let someone else do it for me and come in later and reap the benefits. I found all of this out after several years of relapsing and refunding my pain and misery every time. 

I found out the hard way that it was time to do the work. It took some time but it finally sunk in my thick skull that If I wanted what others had… I had to do what others were doing. I had to lose the know it all attitude, the street mentality and the false belief system. I had to take a long hard look at myself. Change happens when the pain of staying the same becomes too great. I had finally reached that threshold. 

So I no longer look for shortcuts, wishing wells, the quick fixes or magic elixirs. 

I put in the work. And the results are showing. 

I am growing up. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease