WHY I CARE TO SHARE MY STORY

CARE

I have been sharing here on my blog for almost 4 years now. I started when I first came into recovery back in 2011. I’ve shared my ups and my downs. I have shared my feelings and my thoughts. My triumphs and my failures. At best I try to share as much of my life in recovery as possible without sharing too much of the negative side of my addiction. I give glimpses of some of the horrors that I have seen and been through without going into the specifics. I tell my story how it was then and how it is now.

I used to wonder if I was doing the right thing. Exposing myself for the world to read. I already know that there is a negative stigma attached to the words addiction, addict, drugs and even recovery. I also know that there can be some negative repercussions behind it. To tell you the truth. I don’t care.The public can and will use this against me and try to make me feel like I have done something wrong and deserve to be alienated or punished for it. The public has a unhealthy fear and a uninformed opinion about addicts and people in recovery and they need to be informed. It is time that people stop turning a blind eye and start getting the information needed to not only understand addiction but to help fight it.

I feel that my story is one that needs to be told and that nobody can do it better than me.

I want people to know that addicts and people in recovery are human and not cast away’s. Not lost souls or garbage that you just toss to the side and forget about. That we are suffering from a disease not a lack of respect, scruples or discipline. That it is hard enough dealing with something that I can’t describe let alone understand and the last thing I need is you judging me. People need to know that addicts have no control over their addictions.

People need to know that its not about why won’t they just quit. I wish I was able to just quit. But the obsession to use was over powering and the compulsion to continue using no matter what was the end result. That once I was caught up in the grips of addiction all rational thoughts begin to cease and self centered thoughts on getting and using and finding a way to get more begin to take over. It is not personal, it is not intentional. It is not about you. Not at all.

The world needs to understand that addiction is a mental, physical and spiritual disease that is hell bent on destroying not only my life but the lives of those around me as well. Addiction is a deadly disease. I know first hand the damage it causes, to not only the addict but to everyone affected by the addict.

I want people to know, to understand that addiction is not the end of the road. That there is a way out. That if I can do it, SO CAN YOU. That is why I share my story. I want the addict who is still suffering and the family member to know that there are people who have made it out and are living productive lives. That they too can do it.

I had to learn how to ask for help. I had to want to receive the help that people were offering me. I could not do it for anyone else. And no one else could do it for me.

I had to do it and want it for myself.

OUT WITH THE OLD. IN WITH THE NEW.

old ways

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!

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

believe

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

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

LET IT GO, LET IT GO, LET IT GO

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I am only as sick, as my secrets.

When I first heard this I didn’t understand it. I said my secrets aren’t sick. I didn’t get what they were trying to say and I didn’t want to appear stupid by asking  someone what it meant.

After being in recovery for a little while I  began to understand that there are no stupid questions. I had to put aside my
I Know
mentality and start asking questions.

So I asked someone and they helped me to understand that I cannot get the help I need if I am holding on to those secrets that have held me hostage for years. That harboring past hurts, resentments and anger I am actually blocking myself from growing. I cannot make room for new blessings when I am still cluttered with things from my past that 1. I have no control over and 2. They are over and done with. Nobody even remembers but me.

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I have learned that sharing about my past helps me to let it go, move past it and grow from the experience. Instead of holding on to it and remaining stuck, sick and suffering. I have also learned that not everything I have been through is sharing material. Some of the things I should share in a more personal setting. Like with my sponsor or another trusted person.

The bottom line is.

I have to expose and disclose. Letting go isn’t easy. It takes time and trust. It took me quite a while to be completely comfortable sharing and still today I haven’t shared some things. I know that in time I will but I am in a race with no one.

We each recover at our own pace.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

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