Be Addicted to Life - By Lydia Ryan
“Life is the toughest teacher because it gives us the test first and the lesson after.” Eric (Airek) Dilley is a thirty-four-year-old fitness trainer and life coach from Lancaster, Ohio who failed the test then learned the lesson. From the outside, he just looks like an extremely fit guy who does what he loves. However, he has not always been this way. When Eric was younger, he made friends with the wrong group of people and started using drugs and alcohol. His choices caused his life to take a turn for the worse. Eric has struggled with long term drug addiction. He got hooked on just about every drug you can think of, went to jail multiple times, has gone through two bouts of homelessness, fallen off a mountain, and has been divorced with two children.
Eric’s life has not exactly been a cup of tea; however, he cleaned up his act and seems to have a whole new attitude about life. “My past decisions, failures, and successes have all brought me to this life that I am now addicted to.” When asked if he could go back and change anything, Eric said that he would not change anything because this is where he is supposed to be. If he changed the path he went down, he would not have learned so much and might not be in the same place that he is today. “I’ve just learned that often the things that are the most painful end up being the most meaningful.” From the lessons he has learned, Eric started an organization called “BA2L” which is an acronym for Be Addicted To Life. He believes that there is a valuable missing piece from recovery. Missing from rehabs everywhere. A guide to passion and structure. A new way of transforming destructive addictions into constructive habits. This is part of BA2L along with a lot of fitness. “The best thing I believe anyone can do is to have a noble and life-enhancing mission. When we have that, our decisions and time become too important to waste.” Eric believes that if you are struggling with your past, the best way to overcome it is to separate the old you from the new you. He did this by changing the spelling of his name from Eric to Airek. This signifies that you are not the old you. Eric was in a tri marriage of drugs, husband, and wife for a little while. He thought that he was so lucky to be in that situation and be able to experience it; however, the more he went to jail, the more they grew apart. “Trust has been stretched to its ripping point. Like a flower without water, without trust, love can only live so long.” When he started to try to get clean, he had to realize that it was his issue, not their problem. He began to view his life as a book in which a new chapter has started. The idea is that you just cannot go back. That chapter is over.
It eventually became clear to Eric that he did not like who he was anymore. However, he does not regret what has happened. “Often the blessings we think we have really ended up being curses and the curses end up being our biggest blessings.” The story he has lived through has given him the opportunity to share it with others and learn through experiences. Without it, he would not have the chance to give others hope and guidance to a healthier life. Eric once fell off a mountain and broke his femur, ankle, and both hands. This was an important event in his life that helped change who he was. “Breaking my body allowed me time to reflect on my life and look for what the design was trying to improve. I knew I needed to give back.” After this, he decided to look into the peace corps which is when he found AmeriCorps. This is what gave him the opportunity to move back to Ohio where he was lead to his mission, found a job he was passionate about, and began to help other people become better. Eric got started working as a trainer by using his old bad habits. “Give me an inch, I take a mile. I don’t work for money, I work for experience. It is more valuable than money is. Besides the better experience you have, the more money you make.” If Eric did not go through the experiences he went through, he might not be in the position he is in today. If he was never Eric, he would never have become Airek.
Eric went through two bouts of homelessness. One in Tampa, Florida and one in Columbus, Ohio. Living on the street, no money, no job, only addiction. He did bath salts and meth during these times and it had his head spinning. The reality he lived in was completely controlled by the extremes his mind was sent to. Being awake for such long periods of time would take a toll on such a dehydrated and malnutritioned mind. A normal thought, usually written off, would be dwelled upon and would form beliefs. Once he would believe it to be true, it became his world. From visiting this extreme, he learned the importance and effect that the beliefs we have, have on this world around us. “My #1? Everything in life is specifically designed for our improvement. This allowed me to grow exponentially these past 4 years.” When asked if he was proud of where is now, Airek said he is. “I am. I mean it’s truly amazing to see God’s hand working for me. He is all over the place. So it’s kind of weird to say proud because I definitely haven’t done this myself. What I have done is try and become the best person I can, while developing a closer relationship with God. Developing virtue, continuously chasing excellence and trying to be the best servant I can for others is the main focus.” Airek has definitely been through a lot, but he does not regret it and is very proud and appreciative of where he is now. Not only has he overcome addiction, but he has also found a new philosophy of life and faith. Airek is now addicted to life. “Believe you live in a world where you can accomplish anything, with enough time and effort you can. You can live in an awesome, caring world where you can do whatever you want. It’s here if you believe it.”
By: Lydia Ryan