TURNING THE PAGE

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In active addiction my life was a never ending cycle of bad choices. I remember some, but there are plenty that I have buried deep. The ones that I didn’t want anyone to know about. The ones that I thought were so horrible that if revealed people would once again turn their backs on me. They would shun me and not want me to be around them. I didn’t want to be an outsider again so I would keep my secrets and carry them to the grave with me.

I always thought that I was doing the right thing by keeping my life secret. People would speculate and judge but most of their judgement was based on the fact that I used drugs. No one could actually say that they know me. I made sure that no one really knew me. What they thought they knew was all fabricated. My life was one lie after another all made up to protect me from being rejected. The crazy part about that is I wound up being rejected by everyone anyway.

I lived to use, but I also lived to please. I just wanted you to like me, to accept me, to allow me to be a part of. Whatever it was. I remember when I was a child and I would lie just to get attention. I remember reading a story about a boy who cried wolf and I turned into that boy. I acted out and sought attention from the very beginning and when I stopped getting it from home I turned to other avenues for that attention. I used to think that no one loved me and no one cared, I was the one who didn’t love me. I didn’t know how to love myself. I still struggle at times with loving myself and sometimes act out even today looking for that attention.

Recovery is teaching me how to love myself. I have a network of people who love me and support me. I am learning how to accept myself for who I am and not to invent false identities in order to fit in or to be liked by others. I am exposing those secrets that have kept me sick and suffering. I am exposing all those things that I thought were so horrible and I am learning  that they weren’t all that horrible after all. I am releasing myself from the bondage of my past and I am experiencing a freedom that I have never felt. I feel the weight lifting off my shoulders from all the baggage that I have been carrying around all these years.

I want to make it clear that this is my process and it didn’t just happen over night. I didn’t come into recovery and all of a sudden change. My life didn’t become magically delicious over night, days, weeks or months. I am still a work in progress and I am just scratching the surface. I have years and years of hurt, pain, misery and suffering, lies, loneliness, abandonment, fears and disappointments locked up inside my head and slowly but surely I am on the road to revealing them and healing from them. I live one day at a time and I try to remember not to stay in the past. I revisit the past so I can expose it but I do not dwell there. There is nothing I can do about the things that I have already done and it is time for me to stop punishing myself for them.

I am moving on from the ghosts of my past. I am turning the page. Stepping into the next chapter of my life. I am grateful for my journey because I am learning so much about myself and I am learning that most of the things that I thought were the truth, are a figment of my made up life. Lies told by misinformed people who are in there own way stuck in a never ending cycle and refuse to try to find a way out. I pray everyday for those who are caught up in the grips of addiction, that they find there way out and into this life saving process. I know how it is to feel like there is no way out. To think that no one cares and that I would die a addict, die using drugs. I now know that it doesn’t have to be that way. I want others to know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is a way out. You can stop using. Recovery offered me that way out.

Thank you for being on this journey with me. Please feel free to read more of my story and follow my journey on my blog at http://www.fromstruggletostrength.com

Peace and blessings

Eric Ease

YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE

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In the beginning I came into recovery broken, lost, lonely and desperate. I didn’t have any hope that I could ever change. I believed all the lies that I have been told and that I had been telling myself over the years. After all I was living proof that I was nothing but a failure. Everything I touched turned out bad, everything I tried failed. I felt worthless, hopeless and useless I had no self esteem and everyone confirmed my feelings when they spoke to me or when they spoke of me.

My biggest problem was that I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t think I was worthy of having friends or being around people in general. I didn’t believe that I could stay clean. I didn’t believe that my life would change or that anyone could ever understand what I had been through let alone help me. I thought that my situation was unique and that no one could have ever had it as bad as I did. I didn’t believe in myself because no one else believed in me. I thought they were right to put me down because I put myself down. I didn’t believe in anything anymore. I would never change.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

So of course when I came into recovery I expected the same thing to happen. In the beginning I couldn’t tell people how I really felt, I was afraid that they would treat me the same way and I didn’t need anymore people against me. But it wasn’t like that at all. I was welcomed with a hug, offered coffee and a seat in the front row. I was skeptical of all this niceness. It was foreign to me. Nobody wanted me around but these people did. The more I kept coming around I started to become comfortable with this new environment. I became willing to share about myself, a little at first but then I realized that others there were just like me and had been where I just came from. I was able to identify with their stories and that made it easier to share my own.

I began to believe. I had found hope. I began to feel like I finally belonged somewhere.

There are still times that I suffer from those feelings but they do not come as often anymore. My life began to change for the better when I started to believe that I could change. Once I believed that it was possible I became open to try new things, to live a different way. I became open to suggestions from others who have been in my shoes and were willing to share with me how they did it. I began to do those things and my belief grew even stronger. I know realize that what others think of me is not my reality. I will always have people who do not believe in me or what I say. I cannot blame some of them because I was a habitual liar and was never a man of my word. Today it’s ok that they don’t believe I prove people wrong every day with my actions. I no longer have a need for you to believe what I say. I do my best to maintain my new way of life on a daily basis and that is all I can do.

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I am not here to prove anything to anyone but myself.

I believe in myself even if you do not. The proof is in the way I live today.

Thank you for being on this journey with me. Please feel free to read more of my story on my blog at.

http://www.fromstruggletostrength.com

Peace and blessings

Eric Ease

RECOVERY IS A LIFE SAVING PROCESS

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As a addict I have experienced the pain, loneliness and despair of addiction. Before coming to the fellowship I tried everything in my power to control my usage of drugs. Nothing I ever tried worked. I tried switching my drug of choice, I tried lying to myself by saying I would only do 1. I tried hiding my money or asking someone to hold it for me. I even went as far as to leave money in my locker at work so I would not spend all of it, only to go to the job and get what I had stashed there. No matter what I tried, how many different approaches, techniques, plots and schemes they all failed. My addiction was to aggressive and I would cave in to the cravings every time. No matter what I tried in the end my addiction lead me to a downward spiral every time. Slowly but surely the progression would get worse until I was back at rock bottom.

I have learned by working some steps about the mental and physical affects of my addiction. Mentally I would become obsessed with thoughts of using. I would be thinking about using day in and day out. I would be thinking about what I was going to do when my drugs ran out long before they actually ran out. I would plan on Sunday how much of my money would go to buying my drugs when I got paid on Friday. I couldn’t last a minute without thinking of using and finding ways and means to get more. I was totally obsessed and consumed with it and my life reflected that. Then there is the physical aspect of my addiction. The compulsive urges to continue using even when I knew the end results would be devastating. Regardless of the consequences or repercussions I continued to use. They say that insanity is doing the same things expecting different results, well my insanity reached the 100th power because I did the same things knowing the results and did them anyway.There is also a spiritual aspect of addiction and that is the self centeredness. You see no matter what happens its all about me, what I want and how I feel. I want what I want and I want it now. I have hurt a lot of people along the way with my selfishness. But in reality is was my addiction not the real me that had me in its grips. I had no control over it or my actions.

I didn’t know anything about the affects of my disease until I came into recovery and started to do step work. I always thought that I was a normal person and the things I did were normal too. I thought I was pretty smart and that all I had to do was stop using drugs and everything was going to be ok. I have learned that I was wrong about that and many other things I thought that I knew. I never thought of myself as being powerless or unmanageable. I thought that surrender was for suckers, quitters and losers and I always thought I was in control of every situation. I had to learn that by surrendering to the disease of addiction and admitting my powerlessness and unmanageability that I would be able to grow and not only learn how to stay clean, but also learn that addiction is about much more than just drugs. Once I stopped using and had a clear mind I began to realize that my addictions started way before I ever picked up my first drink and drug.I began to see that my life had been unmanageable and I had been powerless long before I ever used any substance. Growing up I had addictions to lying and stealing and they only grew as I got older and began to experiment with drugs.

I was always trying to control situations even at a early age only to find out now that I have no control over others actions only over how I respond to them. I can tell you how much of a shock that was to me, and I still didn’t believe it even though all the proof was staring me right in the face. I have always been a hard head and one you had to prove things to. I was the same way in my early recovery and as a result I relapsed time and time again. Today I know better and once you know you cannot go back to not knowing. I am grateful for the process of step work. Just by answering some simple questions honestly and openly I have learned a great deal about myself and why I have done some of the things I did. I am learning who I am and how to accept the things I am learning without acting out. It is a process that is saving and changing my life on a daily basis and I will be forever grateful.

I have the opportunity to live the life I was meant to live. I am in the process of doing things I used to only dream of and it is an amazing journey. I share my experiences with you all in the hopes that I might be able to help someone who might be struggling with the same things I struggled with.

I am here to share hope.

A message of freedom from active addiction. That an addict, any addict. Can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use and find a new way to live.

I can’t tell you the difference in me today compared to 10, 5 even 2 years ago. The proof is in the way I live.

Thank you for being on this journey with me. You can read more of my story on my blog at http://www.fromstruggletostrength.com

Peace and blessing

Eric Ease

I GET INVOLVED

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Recovering from active addiction takes hard work and consistency. Nothing worth having ever comes easy.

When I first came into recovery I was beat down. I was lost, alone and desperate for a better way to live. I thought that all my problems would disappear if I could only stop using. I thought that all of sudden my life would be so much better. Well I was half right. My life has gotten a whole lot better since I put down the drugs but my problems did not just disappear over night. I immediately started to blame recovery. I began to think that it was all a bunch of BS. What I didn’t realize at the time was I was only doing a small portion of what is required to stay clean. I was only abstinent from the drugs but not the behaviors associated with them.

I continued to do things that I did when I was using. I continued to lie, cheat and steal among other things and that dishonesty along with listening to the negative thoughts in my head ran me right back out the door and to using again. I tried several times after that to get clean but was unsuccessful. I couldn’t understand why I could not stay clean. I began to think that recovery worked for others but wouldn’t work for me. I decided to stop trying and my life really fell apart. I had lost all hope of ever getting clean. I had lost faith in myself and everyone around me. I isolated myself in my self made prison and spiraled out of control. In the end I was ready to end it all. I wanted to die.

I was given a second chance and by listening to others who have been in recovery for a while I was able to string together a couple of days. I was able to learn to listen and I became willing to ask people for help. I was able to ask people that I did not know “How do I stay clean”. People reached out to me and helped me understand a little bit better about my disease. The disease of addiction is baffling to say the least. It is progressive, incurable and it is fatal. But it can be arrested one day at a time. I learned that I had to get involved, I had to participate in my own recovery. I did not do that the last time and that is why it did not work. So this time I made sure to get involved. I heard them say I was not responsible for my addiction but I am responsible for my recovery. I heard them say that recovery has to come first. I had to fashion my life around my recovery. That I had to talk about what I had been through and what I am going through now. I heard them say make meetings and share in those meetings, to get a sponsor to guide me in the process. I heard them telling me to read the literature and do step work.

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I heard the suggestions that would help me to stay clean. I not only heard them but I started doing them. I began to notice something. My life was changing. I was starting to feel better about myself and I was learning new things and meeting new people. I was actually making friends. People are happy to see me and not telling me to go away. I began to learn how to love myself and take care of my responsibilities. I was feeling like a brand new person and it felt great. I continue to get involved today. It will never be over. I have to be consistent in order to keep what I have.

Just for today..I will do just that.

Peace and blessings

Eric Ease

http://www.fromstruggletostrength.com

WHAT CAN I DO

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Since I began my journey in recovery I have been asked by many people.

What can I do?

Whether it’s a person who is in active addiction or the parent’s of someone who is suffering from the disease of addiction. I believe the first step is the same. Stop Using. I tell people that it doesn’t matter how much a person has used or what they have done in the past. The first step to recovery is to not take that first drug, drink or whatever, Staying away from the first one is key because it is the first one that starts the vicious cycle all over again.

Now with that being said. I also have to say that it’s not easy.

I have shared my story openly and honestly and I will be the first to tell you that my journey was a struggle. I could not stay away from the first one to save my life. I couldn’t understand “if you don’t pick it up, you won’t get high”. I mean after all I have picked it up for years. I have had many times when I wasn’t able to pick it up because I was in a protected environment provided by the state. ( Jails and institutions) but when I got out I would always return to using. Staying away from the first one was the last thing on my mind because.

1. I didn’t think I had a problem. I was in deep denial about my situation and didn’t see it as a problem until late in life.

2. Using was a form of escape from my present reality. I always wanted to be someone else or somewhere else.

3. By the time I really wanted to stop, I couldn’t. My addiction was deep rooted and had become a way of life.

It takes commitment to be able to stay clean. It is a process that starts and ends with me. I had to become 100% sick and tired of using and losing. I had to become honest with myself about my problem and willing to ask for help. I had to be willing to accept the help that was being given to me. I had to put aside my ego and become humble and admit that I did not know how to stay clean. I had no idea how to go about any of this until I became a member of Narcotics Anonymous.

Once I was able to learn how to stay away from the first one there was some other things I had to do.

I had to become honest with myself and others. I had to re-learn honesty because I was not the most honest person. I lied to get by. Dishonesty became a way of life and eventually consumed my every waking day. I had to come to realize that I am not going to be able to receive the proper help if I am not truthful about my situation and what my problem is. I had to be willing to share my story, all the deep dark secrets that I thought I would never tell another person because I thought they were so horrible. I buried them so no one would find out, but I know now that secrets keep me sick so I began to expose them and came to realize that I am not alone. That those secrets weren’t so horrible after all. Others were able to identify with my story and I began to heal from my past.

I had to become open minded. Recovery was new ground and at first the idea alone was scary. I didn’t know what to expect and I almost allowed my fear to stop me from trying. Open minded to new ideas, new people, a new routine of making meetings everyday, of sharing my experiences with others, of working the program as it is suggested and not the way I want to work it. I had to become open minded to the fact that there is another way to live life that is better than the way I have been living it. Open to hearing that the things I thought were truth and the way life is supposed to be were wrong. Open to learning how to change those things. Open minded to a new way of life.

I had to become willing. Willingness is a major component because I had to learn new things. I had to be willing to take some risks and do things differently. I had to become willing to find a higher power. A God of my own understanding that is loving and caring. God = Good Orderly Direction. I had to become willing to allow another recovering addict to guide me in this process. I had to be able to trust those who have been doing this before me and willing to try to do what they are doing and what is working for them. I had to learn to become willing to change. I had to change everything that I knew to be true and codes I lived by learned from the streets. I had to become willing to leave all that behind.

I had to change my thinking. My thinking is what got me into all of this in the first place.

I know that I am still a work in progress and always will be. I am willing to continue to learn new things and change old ones. Recovery is for those who want it. I know plenty of people who need it but until they want it for themselves there isn’t much we can do to help them. My thoughts and opinions are based on my life and are not in any way meant to disqualify anyone. I can only share my experiences, strength and hope. These are the things that worked and are still working for me.

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE

Thank you for allowing me to share.

Eric Ease

http://www.fromstruggletostrength.com

A FEW SIMPLE SUGGESTIONS CHANGED MY LIFE

In my last post I wanted everyone to know that RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. I wanted to let people who may be thinking that they cannot do this, to know that they can. That regardless of our individual circumstances WE can OVERCOME OUR ADDICTIONS.

When I first came into recovery I heard this same message and did not believe that it could work for me. I thought that I was damaged beyond repair. My lack of self esteem and self worth cast a gigantic shadow of self doubt that covered me and kept me stuck and fearful of attempting to really put forth the effort needed to change. I saw others recovering, I knew deep down inside that the program worked. I just didn’t believe that it would or could work for me. I came to the program broken, but long before I got clean I had fear of accomplishing things. I lived life hesitant of attempting anything for I knew that it would only end up in failure and disappointment. That I would only embarrass myself and cause myself even more heartache and pain than I was already feeling. I talked myself right out of ever trying to make my life better because of a false fear. A lie invented by myself to protect myself from feeling any more pain.

FEAR – FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL

FEAR – FORGET EVERYTHING AND RUN

FEAR – FACE EVERYTHING AND RECOVER.

It is amazing how I could sabotage myself without even trying. How I could allow myself to not even try something for fear of failure. How my addiction would have me believe that I am not worthy or capable of doing anything. The problem was with my thinking process and I had no idea until I came to recovery and started to learn some things about addiction and how it affects me. I always thought that drugs were my problem but I have learned that drugs are only a small portion of a bigger problem. The drugs were just a symptom of the disease of addiction that has been a part of my life long before I ever picked up. I knew for a long time that there was something wrong with the way I processed information and my thought patterns but I couldn’t fully understand what was going on. I still struggle with it today but I have gotten better and continue to progress. One Day At A Time.

I’VE HAD PLENTY OF PEOPLE SUGGEST THAT I NEEDED HELP BUT UNTIL I WAS READY IT DIDN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

The first suggestion that was ever given to me was not from a person in recovery. It was suggested that I seek some kind of help. I didn’t receive that very well because I didn’t think I had a problem. I had been to treatment centers, jails and institutions and attended NA meetings. They would always suggest that I make a meeting as soon as I am released but I always went back to using soon after release. I didn’t take the suggestions and always paid for it in the long run. Even when I finally made it to meetings after years of procrastination I would pick and choose which suggestions I wanted to take. I still wanted to do things my way and I still got the same results. After a while I finally realized that I had to try something different and that is when things started to change.

HONESTY, OPEN MINDEDNESS AND THE WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE.

It took some time but I was finally ready to listen to others who had been down the same road and where living a different life. A better life. I wanted what they had and so they suggested some things for me to do in order to obtain that way of life. I was told in meetings to KEEP COMING BACK and so I did. I learned some things and made some changes to my daily routine. I began to feel comfortable enough to start sharing honestly about who I was and some of the things that I had been through. I was amazed at how many people had similar stories and could identify with me. I became willing to do the necessary work that everyone else was doing (Step work, reading literature). I got a sponsor to help guide me in the process because I don’t know everything like I think I do. I had to become open minded to new things and start to discard the old things that I was so used to doing. I had to be willing to live in the moment and not dwell on the past. I had to become a whole new person. I was reluctant at first but in time I began to see changes and wanted more so I started to take more suggestions and apply what I could to my life. I became able to ask others for help and not feel like I was weak or a sucker. The most important thing was IF I DON’T PICK UP I CAN’T GET HIGH.

I had to learn that street rules DO NOT APPLY IN RECOVERY. Everything that I thought I knew about life and living was wrong. I no longer believe in or live by the code of the street. I am learning to live by spiritual principles and how the apply them to my everyday life. I am far from perfect and I know I will never be. I still have my days where I just want to be left alone and do what I want to do. But I know that my way has gotten me years of pain, so it is time to put my plans to rest and live by a new set of plans. I am grateful for where I am today and where I am going. Life is so much better without the use of ANY DRUG.

No matter what I am feeling, thinking or going through I DO NOT HAVE TO USE. 

WITH THE WILLINGNESS TO FOLLOW A FEW SIMPLE GUIDELINES MY LIFE HAS CHANGED DRAMATICALLY.

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE

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For a long time I thought that I would never be able to stop using drugs. I didn’t know that there was another way. A way out of the madness that was my life for so long. I started using at a very early age because I wanted to fit in with others. I longed to belong, to be a part of. I remember always feeling like I was missing something or feeling different than everyone else. I couldn’t understand why I had such a hard time fitting in. I started drinking first and I would drink everyday, sometimes I would drink until I would pass out. I wasn’t even a teenager yet and already had a drinking problem. Needless to say my addiction started early on in life and it lasted for decades ending in jails and institutions, lost jobs, family and  friends, isolation, desperation, degradation, homelessness and despair.

I didn’t know anything about obsession and compulsion then. I didn’t know then that I had suffered from low self esteem and low self worth. I was a lonely kid and I just wanted to be like everyone else. I began my journey on this slippery slope and before I knew it my life had begun to spiral out of control. As I got older I began to hang with people who I thought were cool and started doing other things. Again wanting to fit in and be a part of, I wanted to do those things too. Before long school was a thing of the past and I was caught up in a life opposite of everything that my parents instilled in me as a child. Deep down I knew better, I knew that the things I was doing were wrong but I was caught up in the grips of addiction and before long I had lost any and all control.

In the end I was beaten and I had lost any hope of ever being able to get my life back. My disease had caused so much pain, misery and destruction, I thought that this was how it was going to end for me. I was going to die as a result of my addiction. But I couldn’t have been more wrong about that.

Help is available and all I had to do was ask.
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I found a fellowship of people just like me.I found a place where people know exactly what I am going through and have been there themselves. I can speak openly and honestly about my past and someone will be able to relate and share there experience with me. I am a member of Narcotics Anonymous. I am learning how to identify my feelings, express myself without getting frustrated and to face my fears without resorting to using drugs. I have been doing some work on myself and have come to understand some things that have been a mystery to me for a long time. I am grateful to be out of the depths of the hell that was my addiction to drugs. But drugs are only a symptom of the disease. I am a work in progress the key word being WORK. It takes effort and commitment. I have learned that I have to be open to new ideas and suggestions, willing to make changes and stick to those changes and to be as honest as I can. I am able to ask for help today and I do not feel ashamed, embarrassed or weak because I need help. I am changing and I am loving it. It’s not easy but it is easier than living my life still caught up in the grips of my addiction.

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There are many groups and recovery communities out there and I am not saying that my way is the only way. I can only share my experience and what works for me. One thing I can tell you is RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. If you or someone you know is suffering from the disease of addiction please give yourself a break. Seek help, there is no shame in admitting that you need help. You can’t get help if no one knows how to help you.