marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

LOVE: Let. Others. Voluntarily. Evolve

  “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ~Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island My sponsor often tells me that whatever I decide to do in my relationships with people, let it come—not out of anger or spite, jealousy or resentment—but out of love. And if I truly love someone, I need to just let them be. This is VERY hard when a loved one is addicted. But I don’t have the power to change other people or their choices. When I make the effort to let go, things usually turn out...

Secrets Make Us Sick

From Hope for Today, June 25: “As I was growing up, I felt unsure and afraid of life. In my alcoholic family, we didn’t discuss thoughts and feelings, so I believed I was the only person who felt this way. I hid my insecurities for fear of being ridiculed and shamed by those who knew me. Although it hurt, keeping my secrets to myself made me feel safe. Thought for the Day: …I can set my secrets and myself free.”   That is a big part of my story. And I found after being in recovery for a few years many other people just like me, people who grew up around alcoholism and other forms of addiction. The stigma was so great fifty years ago that no one discussed it in my family. And even now there is shame attached to the disease. But I’ve been adding my voice to many other addicts out there, mothers in particular, who are learning to live with the cruelty of addiction in a loved one. I live better and feel healthier without the burden of secrets weighing me down. If we bring addiction out into the open, it will lose its power. And I, for one, feel lighter....

Lessons In Letting Go

  “Her apartment was only two miles away from the condo. I parked on her street and was relieved to see her car, so I knew she was home. Running up the stairs, I tripped over a cat and sent it screeching down the steps. I knocked on her door but there was no answer. I knocked again—again, no answer. Music was playing, so I knew she was home. If she’d answered her phone, I could have told her I was coming. But I was determined to see her so I banged on the door. Finally, she came and opened it, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth while she zipped up her jeans. Without waiting for an invitation, I brushed past her and approached the bedroom, but stopped in my tracks. Joe, her boyfriend, was lying on the bed, prostrate, his long legs hanging off the end. He was so out of it I don’t think he knew I was there. ‘Mom, come back here,’ she hissed, frantically beckoning me back into the living room where she was standing. ‘This is not a good time.’” ‘It’s never a good time, Angie. You’ve been avoiding your father and me, and I want to know why.’ ‘Mom, I know you’re worried. Joe’s really trying to kick the stuff, honest. Me too. We’re detoxing right now. That’s why it’s not a good time.’ ‘Not a good time…’ Summer of 2005 was upon us, and Angie had been struggling with serious drug addiction for four years. First it was methamphetamine, then cocaine, and now meth again. There had been countless betrayals, one...

Independence Day

From Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, p. 169: “I’m still grieving, but the despair is gone.” “I am learning that though I grieve incredibly for the loss of my ———- (fill in the blank), I don’t have to drown in that pain.”   Before getting into recovery, I wasn’t aware of the tools available to all of us to cope with the inevitable disappointments in life. No one had explained to me the concept of letting go of people and situations that I had no control over. This is huge because the continual battle of my will to change the unchangeable was exhausting and taking a toll on me more than the person I was hoping to change.   The regular practice of gratitude has gifted me with a perspective on my own life, simply focusing on my blessings and keeping them in the forefront of my mind. Surrendering to a greater being than I am for guidance and faith is so basic. And I  believe absolutely that no matter what happens in my life, all will be well. These are but three of the tools the program has given me. And when I pick them up and use them, no matter what sadness I must deal with, the despair is lifted and I have hope. Happy (early) Fourth of July, everyone! This year I’m celebrating sixteen years of freedom and independence from the disease that affects so many of us. God Bless!                ...

Getting Ready For Change

From Hope for Today, June 17: “Thought for the Day:  Although God does not completely eradicate my defects, I am provided with Al-Anon tools to maintain my separation from them. ‘I expected to just say, ‘Okay, God, take over!’ and they’d be gone overnight. It didn’t quite work out that way.’”   If only things were so simple! I’m in partnership with my Higher Power, but I still have to do the footwork. The key word above is “separation.” I will always have defects; that’s what makes me human. But to be able to step back and look at them, to separate myself from them for just a bit, gives me the chance to take a look and decide what to do. It’s hard, sometimes, to let go of some defects. Sometimes stubbornness masquerades as determination; sometimes martyrdom looks like healthy self-sacrifice. There are a million ways to justify our behavior and rationalize it. But when a defect stands in the way of my well-being, or that of someone I love, then I’m grateful for the objectivity I’m given, allowing me the grace to separate from it.  ...

“Listen And Learn”

So often I don’t listen. I’m consumed by my own thoughts and the next thing I will say. But there’s so much I don’t know. I feel I must know a great deal; I must appear strong and competent. For others. I know I don’t know everything, but I want to appear confident. For others. I would do well to put myself aside and learn from others. For me....

I Believe

From Each Day A New Beginning, May 1: “We may see clearly how and why we get in our own way. But unless we have faith in a power greater than ourselves, we won’t step aside. We won’t let go. We’ll do the same things and “understand” ourselves in the same ways. We may even use our “insight” to keep ourselves stuck—to  protect ourselves from the risk of change. Now, having had a spiritual awakening, having come to believe that a higher power can restore us, we possess a gift more powerful than the keenest insight—faith in our ability to grow and change. We are children of God. All the creative power of the universe streams through us, if we don’t block it.” The unseeable. The unknowable. Faith. Before recovery, if I didn’t see it, it wasn’t there. Now, like Indiana Jones, I’ve learned to take that leap of faith that frightened me most of my life. And I’ve been rewarded. God has become the pilot of my ship. I can sit back and enjoy the ride. I don’t have to be in charge anymore. And I know that all will be...

Breathing Lessons

From Hope for Today, June 10: “I find the lessons of Al-Anon appearing in the most unexpected places—for example, in pre-flight safety instructions. Along with the details of how to fasten the seat belt and where to find the nearest emergency exit, the instructions always advise how to deal with the loss of cabin pressure. The suggestion is that I apply my own oxygen mask, thus ensuring my survival, before attempting to help others…Only then, when I have taken care of these responsibilities to myself, am I strong and stable enough to help others.”   It seems like a no-brainer, the above advice. But for a long time I ignored my own needs, not taking care of myself, close to throwing myself under the bus, because of my obsession with my daughter Angie and saving her from her addiction. I loved my child to distraction, and I felt that self-sacrifice was a way to demonstrate my love. But I found after years of it that it just wasn’t working. All the “help” I gave my daughter, all the protection I provided, shielding her from the logical consequences of her drug-induced behavior, just kept her in her disease. What motivation did she have to change her behavior when I kept getting in the way? And as if that weren’t bad enough, my enabling behavior just made me sicker than I already was. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t doing the right thing  when I was over-protective. I felt guilty, torn, sleepless, and eventually the signs of PTSD were clear. I broke down. That’s when I put my oxygen mask on....

Look To This Day

From Each Day A New Beginning, February 21: “’We can never go back again, that much is certain.’ ~Daphne DuMaurier Yesterday is gone, but its experiences will be reflected in those of today. We learned from both the good and the bad situations of yesterday. Where we travel today, likewise, will influence our direction tomorrow. We can’t do over what has gone before, but we can positively incorporate all that life is offering us from this moment forth…We move forward, only forward. The doors behind us are closed forever. Facing what comes to us, with strength, is a gift from the program we share…And trust that what we face along with what we let go will weave the pattern of our rightful unfolding.”   For a long time my feet were stuck…in the past. A time when things occurred that I can’t do anything about now. A dark place that held me hostage: regrets, guilt, sadness. I lacked the will, the wisdom, and the means to get out. My work in recovery has given me a lot of freedom from all the negativity that had weighed me down. I feel lighter now and able to move forward with my life. I’ve learned to let go of things I have no control over—like the passage of time, lol! So I’m paying attention to what’s right in front of me. Things are unfolding as they are meant...