DOING SERVICE

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Today was the first night of my Training for my H & I commitment. It was interesting being in a detox and listening to the residents share about their plans after they leave. What was really interesting was the fact that they all knew they needed help, we’re eager to participate and all planned on going from the detox into residential treatment facilities.

One guy shared and I was reminded of my own story. We have a lot in common as far as our journey through addiction. I am still amazed sometimes when I hear someone that I don’t know and have never met share my story. I reminds me that I am not unique and I am definitely not alone.

I always feel a sense of gratitude when I leave a detox. I have had my share of treatment facilities and institutions. Although when I was in them I didn’t utilize the life saving information because I was still in denial and wasn’t ready to stop. Although I had a inkling of an idea there was a problem, I didn’t take the suggestion to make a meeting when I got out. I always felt the need to go show everyone how good I looked and it always ended with me using with those same people.

Staying away from people, places and things is one of the suggestions that I never listened to. I relapsed several times as a direct result. I have people, places and things in my family and my neighborhood. I had to learn how to work around them. It wasn’t easy but I eventually was able to get and stay clean in the same neighborhood that I used in. I still live in the same area but I have made some drastic changes to when I go out and what routes I take.

I am in no way saying that it’s OK. That you should go around the old familiar playgrounds, but I had to do it for me. I could have moved away but no matter where I go, drugs will be there. I will be there. I had to do it for myself. I had to be stronger than my addiction because my life depends on it. I have changed neighborhoods before and sought out the people who used very easily. The cycle remained the same until my thinking changed.

I’ve been blessed to have lived 2 lives in 1 lifetime. I am staying clean and working vigorously to keep my recovery. It is my responsibility and I take it very seriously. I’ve taken life for granted in the past and today I know how truly precious life is. I also know that I am not promised tomorrow. If I go back out and try it again. I will not make it back. I keep that thought first and foremost in my mind. Part of maintaining my recovery is sharing my experiences and giving back what was given to me. That is why I feel so strongly about doing service in H & I. I have an obligation to give back. It is my duty to help others who are still suffering in the grips of active addiction.

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I have found my purpose beyond sharing here on my blog. Hospitals and Institutions is the next level that I have been looking for. I will be giving back to others and helping myself at the same time. That is truly a blessing.

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!

EXPOSING MY TRIGGERS PART IV: LONELINESS

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First and foremost I have to remind everyone that what I post on my blog is about ME. My posts are not aimed at or specifically about anyone else. There is no reason for anyone to take what I post personal for 1 main reason.
I DON’T KNOW YOU PERSONALLY. So if my posts have triggered something in you. You should take a look at it..Not at ME.

I can break this trigger into 2 categories.
Loneliness and Isolation

For me loneliness has been brought about by my isolating myself from the outside world. In my active addiction I didn’t trust people, I was ashamed of what and who I had become, I had lost all hope and my self esteem was non existent. I felt shame, guilt and remorse and built a self made prison that I locked myself away in for what would have been eternity had I not found the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous.

As a result of my isolating myself from others in the end I was all alone. I had no one to turn to, talk to, hang out with and I was lonely. I pushed everyone who loved and cared for me away. I thought that no one loved me or even cared if I lived or died. I continued to feed those lies to myself and continued to use believing that I was all alone.

Today loneliness and Isolation are warning signs that can become triggers. They will lead me back to that road of despair if I do not take the proper precautions to address them. I am grateful for the fellowship and my network.
The slogan NA: Never Alone
Means so much to me. I know what it feels like to be alone and I would never wish to feel like that ever again.

I thank each and every person in my network and in the fellowship in general. It is because of you that I am able to share my experience, strength and hope and get the help that I so desperately need on a daily basis. I am grateful that I am not alone.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

I AM RIGHT WHERE I NEED TO BE

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I am responsible for my recovery, my happiness, my responsibilities, my life. I cannot rely on anyone to do anything for me. It is my journey and mines alone.

I am not saying that I don’t need help along the way. That would be dishonest. I would be lying to not only you but to myself. If I believed that I would be doing a gigantic disservice to myself. I would be once again saying that I can do this by myself and I don’t need you. That would also imply control. I know what happens when I begin to think that I am in control.

No.

What I am saying is, I cannot depend on others to do for me what I need to be doing for myself. I cannot think that anyone can live my life for me. I also cannot live the life you want me to live. I have to find my own way. Find what works and doesn’t work for me and grow at my own pace not anyone else’s.

I cannot pretend to be further along than I am in my process. I cannot live in the future, when I am just beginning to learn how to stay in the present.

I am right where I need to be and I am happy with that.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

EXPOSING MY TRIGGERS PART III: FEELINGS

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I’ve heard it said over and over that feelings aren’t facts.

I am having trouble with that one.

Feelings are facts. I’ve been stabbed, that shit hurt. I was in pain. I felt pain.  Its a fact that I was in pain. There no denying that.

On the flipside of the coin

I have always had feelings of worthlessness, uselessness and hopelessness does that mean that I am worthless, useless and hopeless? NO those feelings are NOT facts. Those are feelings brought on by my fear of success, my fear of trying something new or my fears of moving forward in general. Being that in my active addiction I failed at some things my disease (my own thinking) would love for me to believe that I will fail at everything I ever try. That I might as well not even bother.

All to often when I was using I believed those lies. Those feelings of being inadequate, useless and worthless. I allowed my fears to keep me pinned down as if I was in a fire fight with a enemy sniper. Those feelings kept me using more and more to try to cover up those feelings.

Using because of uncomfortable feelings, to try to cover up uncomfortable feelings. Damn confusing aint it.

Today I am grateful that I do not allow my feelings to dictate my thoughts and turn into negative actions. Feelings were a trigger for me. Today I am aware of this and I discuss what I am feeling with others.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

EXPOSING MY TRIGGERS: PART II: ANGER AND RESENTMENT

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So Ive decided to make a series of posts finding, naming and exposing my triggers. I know that I have many, I also know there are some that I am not aware of. I will post each one as I discover them and how they affect me.

One of my most destructive triggers is anger. I have a bit of a temper. I have gotten a lot better at managing it as a result of doing some work but it is still somewhat detrimental and hazardous to my overall health and well-being.

Being a product of dysfunctional family. I have never learned how to deal with my feelings in a healthy manner. I used to get so angry that I couldn’t think of anything other than the thing that got me so pissed off. I used to cover up those feelings on a daily basis and that became my escape. Using was my solution and therefore became my coping mechanism.

Today although I have a slight handle on my anger and have learned a few new ways to vent and release the anger in a healthy manner. I still at times have difficulty letting go. Anger turns into resentment and can eventually lead me to rationalize that I should use something in order to cope.

The old habits die hard. But having gained a little knowledge about my disease those thoughts are short lived. Thanks to my ability to share what I am going through. I am grateful that I do not stuff those feelings of anger and rage.

I talk about it or I will smoke about it.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease

EXPOSING MY TRIGGERS: WARM WEATHER

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I am learning to tell on myself and my disease. I no longer worry about how you look at me, or what you will think or say. Your opinion is yours. Negative or positive it no longer dictates whether or not I share what’s going on with me.

I spent way too much time worrying about what others thought. I wasted a lifetime trying to live up to a phoney image of what I thought my life should be like and living up to a stereotype of what a man should and should not do. All of it contributed to me losing myself and staying stuck in a fantasy world where I didn’t belong.

I know better than that today. I am learning that secrets keep me sick and will eventually kill me. If I continue to allow those secrets to stay hidden and not expose them I will never get better. No one can help me if they do not know anything about me. So I take the risks to share about me.

I expose things to my networks so they can help me to get a better understanding on how to get through it. I no longer wish to keep it hidden and suffer the consequences. That is too high a price to pay..to live so damn low.

So now that the weather is breaking and it’s finally starting to feel like summer. I will be the first to tell you that this weather is a trigger for me. The cookouts, boat rides, bus trips and everything else that goes along with summertime. I used heavily during summer days and I love drinking beer. But drinking doesn’t love me and it opens the door for me to use what I really want. I will be smoking crack in 00.3 seconds flat.

I know this.

I am grateful for this process of getting to know the real me. Knowing is half the battle. Its what I do with that knowledge that separates today from yesterday. Today I choose to live.

Peace and Blessings

Eric Ease