TAKING THE NEXT STEPS

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I have been thinking a lot about what it is that I want to do in life. To be totally honest I haven’t got a clue. I am just beginning to live life and sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. For a long time I was stuck in a never ending cycle of using, jails, institutions, pain and misery. Now that those things have been removed I feel a sense of loss. I’m not sure if you can relate to this. It’s strange not having to deal with and survive the day to day madness. Now don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that I am living clean and my struggles are far and few between. It’s just adjusting to not living foul and finding new things to do after doing the same things day in and day out is different.

Change is scary. New is scary. Fear can either be a motivator or it can hold me back. I have allowed my fears to hold me back for a long time. Now that I can see it and I understand a little more about it. I want to change it. I want to abandon my fears and take risks and begin to challenge myself. The only problem is I don’t know where to start. I am stuck in neutral. Wanting to do something new but not knowing what new I want to do. Sometimes that alone frustrates the shit out of me. That’s when I begin to doubt myself and the old familiar negative self talk kicks into full swing. I know this now because I have been able to do some work on getting to know myself through step work and meetings.

I am very critical of myself. I am a harsh critic when it comes to me. I also know this and I try to correct it as soon as I recognize it. It’s not always easy because I have done so for so many years. I have to continuously remind myself to take it easy. I feel at times that I should be further along than I am because of my age. I beat myself up at times because I waited so long to change and I feel like I wasted my life. All the negative side effects of the twisted thinking patterns of addiction.

The first thing I need to do is stay out of the devils playground between my ears. If I stay in there too long nothing good will come out of it. I still have a lot of negative issues to deal with and I know in time I will be better equipped to handle those thoughts. For now I share openly and honestly about it. I can only get the help I need when I let others know the exact nature of what’s going on. I also need to stop being so hard on myself. I am doing a great job in my recovery and my life in general and need to recognize and acknowledge that fact daily. I also need to continue working on loving myself. I am at a point where I tend to flip flop on this and self love is key to my growing experience. Sometimes I fall short on giving myself the love that I so easily give to others.

Looking forward as I work on staying clean for my 3rd year. I know some of the areas of focus. I am grateful for recovery and all the people who I have met along the way. I have a awesome network, sponsor, girlfriend and online recovery family. I am truly blessed by each and every one of you and do not take this fact for granted. I appreciate your support and encouragement and love you all. I have work to do but I am also thankful for the work that has already been done.

I might not know where it is that I am going. But I do know that where ever it is…
IT’S DEFINITELY FORWARD!

THE UNWILLINGNESS TO FULLY TRUST

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Growing up I was a very trusting child. I trusted that my parents loved me and they would always be there for me. I trusted people, and eventually that trust cost me. I learned the hard way that trusting people was a mistake. That everytime I trusted someone I wound up being the one to get hurt. It took a little time to sink in because I continued to have faith in people but continued to get the same results.

I eventually made a decision. Albeit a costly one. Yet and still it seemed to be my only course of action. I decided that people could not be trusted. All people. I stopped being that trusting person and proceeded to treat everyone like they already did something wrong to me. That one decision led me to isolation. I didn’t trust people so why bother with them. That’s how I began to think and fueled by my addiction those thoughts grew into anger, resentments, animosity, fear which eventually led me to loneliness, despair and desperation.

True to my addictive nature. I still suffer the ill affects from my past when it comes to trust. I have a hard time opening myself up to people. I have an unwillingness to trust people for that fear is still there. The ones that I do open up to, I find myself expecting them to cross me in some way. I am slowly, and I mean slowly attempting to open up. I suffer at times with a simple hug, so talking to people I don’t know is damn near non existent. As a result I sometimes suffer in silence and isolation even in a crowded room.
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I know that eventually things will change. I really want to become more open to talking to people and making friends but I have allowed fear to keep me paralyzed in that area. I just got a new sponsor and even asking him to sponsor me took some time. I am tired of feeling like I am not making progress and I look forward to doing some work in this area.

Progress not perfection
One day, hour or minute at a time.
This is my process, it is not a race and I am in competition with no one.

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

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!

Chatting Up Recovery with the Awesome Guys at KLĒN+SŌBR

Hello everyone check out this awesome podcast with my friend MagzShores@SoberCourage. Also check out her blog at
http://sobercourage.com

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