MAKE ROOM FOR NEW PEOPLE

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I remember wanting to fit in so badly, that I sacrificed everything and anything. The advice of my parents, my own internal warning system and the warnings from others.

I found out that not everyone has my best interest in mind and that most people are self centered and selfish. Only looking for what they can get. I didn’t know that then and in the end I found myself being the same way.

If I considered you my friend I was down for you. I would do anything for you and would follow you wherever. I followed the wrong crowd from a early age and paid a very high price to live so low. All for the sake of belonging. My expectations of others was wrong.  As a result I found myself angry, resentful, frustrated and in the end alone.

I had gotten tired of being used and taken advantage of. Tired of people taking my kindness for weakness and plain tired of people’s bullshit. I started to hang out with the only person I could trust. Myself.

Today I am very cautious of who I allow in my circle. I have met plenty of people in recovery and I am grateful for some of them. Then there are some that I had to let go.  Not everyone that I meet is meant to be in my life. Not everyone that is in recovery is headed in the same direction that I want to go.  I refuse to be around people just for the sake of fitting in today.

I’ve learned a very valuable lesson in that area. I know that I have a choice today. Sometimes I have to delete people from my life to make room for new people. Not everyone in my life is meant to stay in my life.

I am Grateful that today I have a choice.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

THE HOLIDAY HAZARD

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I can remember for years treating holidays as if they were legal get high days. Holidays were special. If it was Thanksgiving or Christmas I would be with my family and we would all chip in and get whatever we could. If it was any other holiday they same applied but with friends and anyone else who wanted to chip in. I remember going to parks, beaches or where ever we wanted to go and be drinking, smoking and caring on. Having what I mistook for a good time. Back then my using was recreational but as the years went by it started to become more of a habit. In the end it was a nightmare, I was all alone and It was a need. I had to feed my monster.

I remember thinking that I could stop any time I wanted to. I just don’t want to stop. That was the lie I told others to cover up the fact that I didn’t know how to stop. I tried to stop on my own and I failed every time. The only time I would be able to get any break from using was when I got arrested or went into rehab. For identification purposes.. I even used when I was in prison and rehab too.

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I couldn’t stay clean in the end and I was scared to let anyone know that. I was afraid to ask for help and as a result I continued to suffer.

Now that I am clean (20 Mos 6 days) I still have some moments when I have thoughts of using and urges to act on them. Holiday’s are some of those times. Holiday’s are especially hard because my thought process associates a holiday with having fun.(Although using was not fun, it is still associated in that manner in my thoughts.) In my mind I get thoughts of missing out on something. I begin to feel like wanting to be a part of again. I have to remember that I was not having fun and that I am not missing anything. If I play the whole thought out I will remember that in the end using caused me to lose every thing and almost cost me my life. I need to remember that all it takes is one. That first one will send me into a never ending spiraling frenzy that will only end badly. Today I am grateful that I am not afraid to let someone know when I feel like using. I share with others when those thoughts come to mind.

Jails, institutions and death are only a crack rock, drink or drug away.

My way of dealing with the holiday triggers are to

1. Stay connected to my network. / Talk about what I am feeling. VERY IMPORTANT

2. Call friends and make meetings.

3. Read recovery literature and do step work.

4. Keep my self busy. Idle time is not productive or conducive to my recovery.

5. Treat myself to a movie or go to an amusement park.

There are several ways that I keep myself from thinking and acting off my thoughts and I have learned all of them from being in recovery. I still have a lot of learning to do and I look forward to it. Recovery is what I make it and today I choose to make the best of it. I take the suggestions from others today. I admit that I do not know everything and I practice remaining open minded and honest.

So far it has been working.

I AM WHAT I SAY I AM

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Negative thoughts turn into negative actions.

Ever since I was a little boy I can remember having negative thoughts about myself and my surroundings. Seeds of failure and low self worth were planted and took hold at a early age. As the years went by those seeds grew and flourished.

When drugs entered the picture I was locked and loaded. I lost the ability to see anything good about myself. I would say things like I will never amount to anything so why bother. I am just plain bad, stupid, ugly. So forth and so on. I’m sure you get the picture.

Those negative affirmations dictated my path and lead me to a life of self destruction, self hate and self harm. I didn’t see a way out and proceeded to live life according to my beliefs. I didn’t understand that the words that I spoke to myself, was the fuel that was added to a fire that was already burning out of control.

I had no idea back then what positive affirmations were. I didn’t understand how important it is to speak positively to myself and about myself. I had to learn how to do that. I am practicing speaking positive things not only to myself but to others as well. I have to reprogram my thought process and practice backing it up with my actions.

For me this is a difficult task at times. I have been conditioned for so long to being negative and hard on myself. I had become accustom to failure and accepted it as if it was supposed to be that way.

I am not a failure. I am not my past.

Today with help. I am speaking and writing myself into a better way of life. I am beginning to see that there is light. Not at the end of the tunnel, but right here in the tunnel. I believe that I was lied to and in turn by believing those lies, I lied to myself. I gave up, surrendered without investigating and seeking the truth for myself.

Now that I am seeking the truth. I have uncovered that I am not all those things but something all together different. I am somebody. I am smart, handsome and worthy. There is nothing that I cannot do or become. I know this today as being fact. I have been living it to the best of my ability ever since it was suggested to me.

I believe that there is so much more to me and I will not rest until I see what I say come true.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

FACE MY FEARS AND MOVE FORWARD

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I have learned that in order for me to grow and expand my horizon. I have to be willing to try new things. I have been stuck in a cycle similar to that of my active addiction but without the drugs.

Fear of failure has been keeping me stuck in familiar ground. Blocking me from attempting new things. It’s amazing how the mind works. I find that I have been talking myself out of trying something new for fear that I am not good enough or that I will not succeed.

I thought that I was being open minded and in reality I have come to realize that open mindedness involves more than just an idea its also an action. To say that I am willing to do this or that is one thing. But to then actually try it is another. That is where I am falling short. Putting action behind the plan.

My thoughts are only as good as the effort that I put behind them.

Now that I am aware of the problem. I can begin to take the necessary action to correct the situation and free myself from those fears that have been holding me back. I will seek the help of others who have been in this situation or similar situations. I am ready to move forward from this point of feeling stagnant.

Progress not perfection.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

PRACTICING FORGIVENESS

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I have learned that holding on to past hurts is harmful to me. It stunts my growth process and keeps me from making any forward progress.

Letting go and forgiving past hurts was unheard of. I would hold a grudge and have resentments and anger towards people for years. I used to be a very spiteful person and could lay and wait for the opportune time to extract my revenge.

I understand today how damaging that behavior is. That still doesn’t mean that I have mastered forgiveness. I have not. But today I am practicing forgiving others because I know that I too need forgiveness. It’s easier said than done, but I have the willingness to practice it and I will eventually be better at accepting it for what it is and it’s intended purpose.

Learning how to forgive takes time but so far I have noticed that I am feeling a lot lighter. Less stressed and angry as a result. This is all new territory for me but being honest about it, having the willingness and open mindedness to attempt it has proven to be very helpful in my growing process.

And for that I am truly grateful.

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Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

SELF ACCEPTANCE

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All my life I wanted to be someone else, somewhere else, doing something else. Ever since I was a child I did not like who I was. I did not like my circumstances. I was too young to even know who I was, but I had it ingrained in my thoughts that I wasn’t good enough.

Those thoughts were not planted there by my parents either. Those were my own thoughts. Brought on by looking outside myself for acceptance. Brought on by judging my insides by other people’s outside appearances. Brought on by jealousy, envy, insecurities, low self worth and low self esteem.

Those thoughts and feelings led me to seek love and acceptance in all the wrong places. They fueled my desire to belong. To fit in with anyone that would accept me. Those thoughts and feelings betrayed me from the very beginning and continued to cloud my judgement for years.

I was a lost soul searching for an out. Creating false identities and living lies for so long. I became a casualty of my own low self worth and self hatred. Being that I never gave my true self a chance to develop. I wandered around in search of an identity that I thought people would like. People pleasing and acting against my will to fit in became my way of life.

Now 40+ years later I am beginning to unearth the truth. I am learning how to get in touch with who I am. Finding out my likes and dislikes. Cutting through a fog that is spread so thick that I am only scratching the surface. I can see that there are thousands of layers that I have yet to discover and uncover.

I am beginning to see myself as I truly am. Not as others would have me to be. I have acceptance of my circumstances, situations, abilities and of my defects, flaws and mistakes. I understand that today is the only day I need to focus on. Tomorrow I will practice acceptance all over again.

I fall short  with acceptance on occasions and that’s ok. This is my process and it takes time.

I accept myself for who I am today.
I accept myself for who I can become tomorrow.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

OUT WITH THE OLD. IN WITH THE NEW.

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I have been constantly reminding myself of this lately.

My mind keeps jumping back to old behavior mode and old attitudes are proving to die harder than I originally thought. I find myself wanting to resort to some of my old methods of handling situations. I am not talking about using substances to solve anything, I am referring to street tactics and antics. I have been sharing about my feelings with anyone who will listen. I have been struggling in the area of letting go. I know that it takes practice so I am not beating myself up.

I really need to get with someone and find out how to let go and not take it back. How to release the need to still try to control situations and manipulate outcomes. How do I kick these thoughts to the curb and not go back and pick them up later. Staying focused lately has been hard and it has been affecting my overall attitude. My spirit is feeling uneasy and I have been really irritable. It has been showing in more ways than I care to mention. I need a break from my own madness, a vacation from my thoughts. I have been sharing that I need to plug back in. I do not wish to be like the animal who gets cut from the herd on to be eaten alive by the savage beast.

Been there. Done that.

I know that doing the same things expecting different results is the meaning of insanity. It’s crazy how the things I am learning, I am relearning over and over again in different situations and scenarios. In the beginning my insanity was using drugs and thinking this time will be different. Now my insanity is taking on a new meaning it has taken a different form but the outcomes are similar in the pain it is causing. I am becoming more and more aware of myself. I am also becoming more aware that certain things that I used to do are no longer acceptable to me.. Because if they were I would have acted off the impulses already. I am fighting a war and the battle ground is between my ears.

I am grateful for the process of recovery for it is teaching me how to say NO. It is teaching me to be honest about my feelings and my thoughts. It is teaching me that it’s ok to talk about my feelings and not to worry about what others think or say about me. It is teaching me that I have to be responsible for my recovery and for my actions. How to show up for people and to ask for help when I need it.

I am grateful to have found a place where there are so many people just like me.

I know that my old ways do not work. My old ways got me a whole lot of pain, misery and suffering. To think that anything has changed or that I can do it different this time would be me believing the lies of my addictive thoughts and will prove once again to be a suicide mission. I do not wish to try to kill myself again. Not today not ever. I will continue to seek the help I need to get through this without taking any shortcuts.

My old ways will not open any new doors. They will only open jail cells or a casket.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

DRUG DREAMS

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Last night I had a dream that was so real that I woke up terrified that I had used. I haven’t had a drug dream in quite some time and I was a bit shook by it.

Every once in a while during the day I might have a flashback but the dreams stopped a few months ago. I am constantly reminded of my active addiction at work. There are more than a few addicts who work for my company. I can relate to them of course because not to many 24’s ago that was me. So I am reminded and have the occasional flashback.

I know that the dream was just that..A dream. It is not my reality today. I have no desire to return to that part of my life. I did not entertain the thoughts. I did not go back to sleep and continue to dream about using. I shared the experience with some of network and I feel better knowing that those dreams don’t have to come true.

I put it out there and let it go. I have no intentions to keep them secret nor do I have to be embarrassed about having them. I am human and I have used for almost 40 years. For me to think that because I am clean I shouldn’t have drug dreams is ridiculous.

Secrets keep me sick.
I reveal them so they can die in the light of exposure.

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Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

GIVE IT AWAY

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I spent a lot of years wondering what was my purpose in life. I think I have finally got a clue.

I remember when I was a kid I wanted to be a doctor. A dentist to be exact. I had a friend who’s father was a dentist and they had a very nice house and a lot of money. I thought that would be  me. As time went on I think I changed my mind so many times that I just gave up on dreaming of what I would become. When I started using all bets were off. All my hopes and dreams were smashed and discarded. I had lost all hope.

As a adult I knew that I was destined to be more than a bum. More than some washed up drug addict but I didn’t know how to go about getting out of the mess I made of my life. With thoughts of using clouding my every waking minute I had again lost all hope. I settled for where i was and believed that it was where I would stay until I died. I couldn’t stop using and had no idea that there where people out there that felt the same way i did, but found a way out.

I was blessed to have been spared death and to have found a new way to live. I was lucky, so many of my friends didn’t make it out. I think to myself at times and wonder why was I spared. What is so damn special about me that I was able to make it out of the depths of the hell in which I lived. Why me? I am learning that I should be grateful and not question why. I should just learn from my experiences and share with others what I have learned in hopes that I may be a light for those who are still suffering in silence in the darkness of active addiction.

I am thankful that I am able to share my story with others and I only hope that through my experiences someone can make a connection, have some identification and get some hope that they too can make it out of the darkness. I know how they are feeling because I too have felt that way. I have lived that life, I have given up on ever finding a way out. I know exactly how they feel because I am and will always be an addict.

The difference is I am a addict in recovery. I am practicing a new way of life that has offered me the opportunity to help others. The same way others have helped me.

My purpose today is to give it away.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

What’s Your Recipe For Recovery? Guest Post by Thomas Parisi

First I want to thank Eric Ease for allowing me to guest post here at http://www.fromstruggletostrength.com and to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to stop by. You have my gratitude and appreciation.

Recovery is a personal journey. Often times each individual finds that the recipe for recovery is a bit different for them than for others. There are also many ways in which we all seem to agree when it comes to recovery. I am no exception. I think it might have a little something to do with our uniqueness as individuals, and our similarities as human beings. We all respond similarly to the things that work for us, yet the things that work for us are different. How can this be? Well, I believe we are responding in similar ways because we are receiving what we need as human beings, but as individuals what we need can be different.

We all seek to remain physically free from pain. This is universally ingrained within our very nature. Self preservation is necessary to keep from injury, pain, and the suffering and torment that it can cause. This can also be expanded into sub-categories; the mind, body, soul, and spirit are all integral parts of our beings. Leading a healthy life by ‘consuming’ nutritionally dense material for each category while getting enough exercise for the mind, body, spirit, and soul is optimal. Although for each of us this can vary greatly. A gym, a library, a church, and even a beach can be the perfect places for a ‘workout’. We must be nourished or the strength and fortitude needed to maintain will decline, and we may choose incorrectly in our weakened state.

We all seek to be understood and to understand others. We are very social creatures. This is why we all need a support group. We need a healthy social existence to give us fulfillment and joy. Some of us find that a recovery group is the perfect place for us. Some of us find a home, in a church, in family and friends, at work, or in a community of like minded individuals. All of these paths are equally valid. We must find a safe and comfortable place to be ourselves so that we can go beyond simple survival and begin to thrive.

Moving in a forward direction of expansion and growth is another key in recovery. As I have said earlier, we are social creatures. This means that we seek the esteem and praise of our family, friends, and neighbors. I am talking about the kind of healthy praise that props us up and gives us the affirmations we need to solidify our thoughts and feelings. When we are new to recovery we feel all alone. Our old life is still calling to us. Our old friends and the lifestyle we led is tempting us to return to a familiar embrace- but we must resist. Every time we receive the praise of our new found friends and family it lessens the pull of our old life. Our new identity is fortified with every kind word and gesture. We are reborn anew.

Finally, we all seek to self-actualize. This is simply a fancy way of saying that we all want our lives to become expressions of our own unique persona. When we are honest with ourselves about who we are and what motivates us, we become driven and purposeful in ways previously unknown. Our lives start to reflect the passion and drive we feel toward certain things.  Our lives express our truth as individuals. With emotional purity and honesty we can move forward unencumbered by the binding elements of deception. It is a worthwhile and amazing journey, this thing called life, and we can consciously choose to move in the right direction with every step.

Recovery is a process. It starts with a willingness to accept the changes needed to move us away from the suffering and pain, and toward a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Life has a way of evolving organically. We may not know for sure if the plans we have will play out as we’ve projected, but they will play out into something- so stick with it and don’t be afraid to fine tune your very own recipe for recovery. You can and will accomplish your dreams if you dare to remain steadfast on the path!

At www.thinkhub.org you are always welcome! Thanks again to you the reader and to Eric Ease!