- Friends & Family
- Mental Health
Submitted by: Nadine H.
Where do I begin with this man? I met Eric on Google Plus about a year ago and we’ve been fast friends ever since! I was immediately struck by Eric’s honesty in sharing his story; how heartfelt his words were and his willingness to share. I remember first reading one of Eric’s blog posts and feeling such a connection; I had to leave a comment and tell him how much I enjoyed his post and how much I appreciated him sharing his story.
When I started writing about addiction and recovery from the family perspective, Eric would always read my posts and leave a comment. His support and encouragement kept me writing when it felt like no one was reading; at least I knew he was and we would support each other in our writing. Eric truly feels like a brother to me and you know how important that is to me since I lost my brother many years ago. It is my great honor to share this incredible man’s story with all of you to be inspired as I continue to be by him!
How long have you been on your recovery journey?
I have been in recovery since January 2011 and I now have two years and seven months. My journey was a struggle in the beginning because recovery was new to me and I didn’t understand that I had to make some changes in order to stay clean. I thought that as long as I was not using that I would be ok. I have learned that addiction is deeper than just using drugs.
What is the biggest positive change in your life since then?
I would have to say that the biggest change in my life has to be with my attitude and my behavior. I have made some major progress in those areas since coming into recovery and doing the work necessary to maintain my recovery.
What led to your need for recovery (from substance abuse or some other issue)?
My life was totally unmanageable. I used and abused one substance after another for over 37 years. In the end, crack was my downfall. I tried to stop using, but failed many times and so I gave up. I thought that I would die using drugs and believed that lie. I became my own worst enemy and I mistreated everyone and anyone I could until finally, I was all alone. I was desperate, lonely, lost, feeling worthless, useless and hopeless. Isolation became my way of life and I was always angry.
At the end of my using, I wanted the pain to stop, so I began to have thoughts of suicide. I couldn’t take life like that anymore so I wanted to end it. I was at the end of my rope and all bets were off. Desperation brought me to pray for a better way. I asked for help and was reminded of meetings that I used to make while in prison. I looked for a meeting on the internet and that was the beginning of my journey in recovery. I stayed clean for a little while but went back out several times. I was able to finally stick and stay in the program and have been clean ever since.
What was the turning point for you?
I believe the turning point came after about my third or fourth relapse. I had to take a serious look at myself and the way I was living. I knew that I wanted to stay clean but couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t. I remember hearing people say, “you have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I remember thinking that I had been living in this vicious cycle for a long time and that it was time for change.
I made a decision to try one more time. This time would be different. This time I would listen to the people who have been doing this for years and stayed clean. I would not run off my own thinking and doing what I always did. I became willing to do whatever it took to stay clean. Not the half assed job I was doing but make a serious effort. I was tired of being a failure. I was tired of losing and being an outcast. I was finally sick and tired of being sick and tired and I was ready to do something about it.
What is one important truth you’ve learned through the process?
I think that to only name one would be doing my story an injustice. I say that because there are so many important truths that I have picked up along the way. I learned that recovery is possible and that I am never too old to learn and to change. I learned that in order to receive the help I need, I have to be willing to ask for help. I learned that I can do or be anything I want to. I am smart, compassionate, empathetic, caring, worthy, useful, loving and lovable. Just to name a few. I have also learned that in order to keep what I have been so gratefully given, I need to be willing to share my experiences with others.
What are you most proud of about your life today?
I am very proud of the change in my lifestyle and living condition. I am a responsible member of society today and not just a statistic. I am finally living the life that I used to only dream about in my active addiction.
What is one of your biggest struggles in ongoing recovery? How do you overcome that?
I think that one of my biggest struggles today is trust. I learned in active addiction not to trust people because when you trust it seems like you only get hurt or taken advantage of in the end. For years that was a reality and I developed trust issues that still affect me today. I have been practicing living in the now and not using my past as a guideline when dealing with people today. I use the rope theory for now and give people enough to hang themselves, lol. I am a work in progress in the area of trust but I am trying to lay my distrust of people to rest.
What part of your life do you find most satisfying since you have been in recovery?
I would have to say my relationships. I came from a lonely and desperate place of isolation and anger. So the friendships that I am making in recovery really mean a lot to me. I didn’t have any friends when I came into recovery because everyone that I knew used drugs. Today I have many friends and look forward to making many more. I have learned the value of friendship and do not take people for granted.
Is there a truth or piece of advice someone shared with you that has helped you on this road?
Yes, indeed. I remember being told to let us love you until you learn to love yourself.
When I came into recovery I didn’t love myself. In fact, for years I hated who I was or who I thought I was. I didn’t know how to love myself. I always spoke negatively to myself about myself and had plenty of other people who did the same. I was totally beaten when I came into the rooms and the people of the fellowship loved me back to life. So I make it my business to do the same for others today. The love that was shown to me made me feel welcome after years of feeling different and not wanted.
What would you tell someone who is at the beginning of his/her recovery journey and is afraid he/she can’t do it?
I would tell them that I used to feel the same way. In fact, I believed for years that I could not and would never be able to get clean. I would also tell them that it was a lie. You can do it. If I can do it, you can do it. I would tell them to just have faith and trust that if they try something different, the results will be different too.
I would recommend that they get a network so they can share their fears, hopes, doubts and dreams. People who they can confide in and do positive things with. I would advise them against going back to old people, places and things and find new people, go to new places and try new things. I would assure them that if they gave themselves a chance that they will begin to see things in their lives change.
I would say believe in yourself because I believe in you. I would also let them know that I have been in their shoes and know exactly how they feel. I would let them know that they are not alone and they never have to be alone again.
Recovery Is Possible!
Clean date October 26, 2013