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

The #AHCAlypse campaign

From Faces and Voices of Recovery. 

The House health care reform bill, AHCA, has many families and communities worried about its impact on those with mental illness, substance use disorders, pre-existing conditions and many other health care needs. The changes to Medicaid and pre-existing conditions protections are particularly important to those with substance use disorders and mental health conditions.

Read more on this and other stories at

https://t.co/6YhZmyx2Wk
http://facesandvoicesofrecovery.org

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

images

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 

Living ‘in the moment’ while in recovery

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

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

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

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

Living ‘in the moment’ while in recovery

Dane O’Leary

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

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

Contending with the past

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

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

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

The future is full of possibility

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Journey Begins. 

Peace and blessings. 

Eric Ease