marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Living In Abundance

“Life holds so much—so much to be happy about always. Most people ask for happiness on conditions. Happiness can only be felt if you don’t set conditions.” ~Arthur Rubenstein And another of my favorite quotes: ~Jennie Jerome Churchill: “Life may not be everything we want it to be. But to make the best of things as they are is the only way to be happy.” All of us in these rooms have experienced addiction in one form or another: in ourselves or in a loved one. It’s a cruel illness because unlike many serious illnesses that are incurable, drug addiction is often conquered by the sufferer. Many addicts recognize that they have the power to change if they are committed to recovery. Different people have different ways of dealing with it: some use 12-Step recovery, some use prayer, or yoga, or running, or writing things down. No one way is better than another. Whatever works for you. The point is that dealing with addiction is painful and messy. My life was derailed because of it. But I found a way to recover—from my own addictions as well as my addiction to saving my daughter, Angie—and I got my life back. I’m filled with gratitude everyday for that. And I wish us all the same peace and joy for that freedom. I learned to be happy. I learned “to make the best of things as they are.” And that’s quite a...

Learning From Repetition

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle I remember when my daughter Angie was in early recovery, a doctor we knew told her to replace the using habit with something else, something healthful. Any habit, good or bad, takes up time in our lives. When we want to rid ourselves of bad habits, according to this doctor, we need to replace them with something else that is pleasurable. Easier said than done, of course, when drugs are surrendered in favor of something else. But creating good habits takes commitment, determination and time. Many addicts give up drugs and rebuild their lives. They just have to stay committed to sobriety. My wish for all of us caught one way or another in the hellish world of addiction is that we find a better way to live—a way to live well and be...

Awareness, Acceptance, Action

“The universe is run exactly on the lines of a cafeteria. Unless you claim—mentally—what you want, you may sit and wait forever.” ~Emmet Fox Fear has always kept me from asking for what I want. But the older I get, the less I care about rejection. Living fully means facing that on a regular basis. And I always learn something. Maybe I learn that my request was ill-timed or inappropriate. Other times I might learn that I asked for just the right thing, but it was denied. I can spend hours ruminating on why it was denied, driving myself batty. Or I can accept that things worked out differently, and let it go. My energy is better spent on other things I have control over now. That’s important. Because wasting my energy on things I can’t do anything about saps my strength—strength I need to stay in...

Self-Love 101

“How I relate to my inner self influences my relationships with all others. My satisfaction with myself and my satisfaction with other people are directly proportional. ~Sue Atchley Ebaugh I grew up with two hypercritical parents. The negativity, of course, affected me profoundly, and I was saddled with low self-worth and self-esteem issues. And though I recognize that I’m an adult child of an alcoholic, I no longer have to view my life through the eyes of a child. My recovery program has opened my eyes and presented me with new perspectives. My father had problems of his own, and my mother, an untreated Al-Anon, suffered as she tried to cope with him. The children in such a dysfunctional family are bound to be affected in adverse ways. That’s why they call it “a family disease.” Learning to re-parent myself with compassion and understanding is a task for many of us adult children. And as I continue to view my life through a different lens, my inner self blossoms. In turn my self-acceptance reflects itself in those around me as I cease to criticize. The best reward of self-love, I think, is that it’s a magnet for others. No more loneliness and isolation. As I learn to treat myself with love and respect, those positive feelings are mirrored in all of my relationships. Life is...

“What Goes Around…

“One receives only that which one is given. The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds, and words, return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.” ~Florence Skovel Shin It gives me pause to remember that. On a bad day, when I’m mean or resentful, I can count on those feelings hitting me on the back of my head. And that makes me think twice about it. But, being only human, I don’t; I just react. Now I’m learning to slow down and think before I act because I know there will be consequences. The wonderful thing about my recovery program is that I’ve learned how to make amends on a regular basis. When I give in to my worst impulses and turn mean toward my partner, for example, the awareness God has given me lets me stop in my tracks, turn around and tell him I’m sorry. It’s such a simple act of kindness, but before recovery I didn’t have the awareness it takes to recognize when I mess up. Now I try harder in all of my relationships. I’ve heard it said that ours is a disease of relationships, and that truth is so clear to me as I see mine improve, one by one, when I apply the tools of the program to my life. Al-Anon’s Tenth Step, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it,” has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve been humbled and joyful to be part of a community of equals. We’re all in the same boat, struggling to survive on the...

Expectations

Memoir excerpt: “In recovery, we learn to profoundly adjust our expectations, hard as it is. We raised one child, and now we have another. We are all too aware of the change that drugs have produced in our children. A parent wrote in Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope a very revealing statement, something I could have written myself. It is a key to understanding my story, my mother and father’s stories, and my daughter’s painful struggle: ‘I expected my children to be perfect, to always do the right thing. I tried to control them by giving them direction and making them do things in a way that I felt was correct! When they didn’t, I could not handle it. I could not accept their drug use and I felt that their behavior was a reflection on me. I was embarrassed for myself and scared to death for them. I became so distrusting of my children that I showed them no respect. I would meddle and invade their privacy looking for any excuse to challenge and confront them. When I came to Nar-Anon, I learned that my interference and my attempts at controlling them were actually standing in the way of their recovery. I learned to let go of the control I never had in the first place.'” You can find my book, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym) on...

What Doesn’t Kill You…

Gene and I are over seventy. I guess that makes us officially “old.” But we’re not. Except for the arthritis that’s hurts most days, we’re still very active and engaged in our community. But we were tested a few days ago when we went hiking around Mt. Baker. On our last day, we went on a hike without reading about it first. Heliotrope Ridge took a while to get to by car. But the views of Mt. Baker made it worth it. We were so uplifted by the calm beauty all around us that we were inspired to stay there and go hiking. But we should have read the book first. It was grueling from the beginning. A hiker on the way back gave me hope: “This is the worst part!” I thought she meant just this stretch, but I soon found out she meant the whole two miles in. Mostly up. Gene and I walk almost every day. Nice relaxing flat walks on our beach or along the peaceful road on Camano Island. But we can’t do much elevation, certainly not 1200 feet. I have COPD and his lungs are even more shot than mine. It took us a long time, but we made it. I was pretty miserable huffing and puffing all the way up, and so was he. Even coming down I was in a bad mood, this time complaining about my knees and my broken toe. Well, I learned the difference between happiness and joy. I was not happy by the surface discomforts of going on a strenuous hike. But I came away feeling joyful:...

Because We’re Worth It!

From Each Day A New Beginning,May 27: “’As the wheel of the decades turns, so do a person’s needs, desires, and tasks. Each of us does, in effect, strike a series of “deals” or compromises between the wants and longings of the inner self, and an outer environment that offers certain possibilities and sets certain limitations.’” ~Maggie Scarf People change. We all do. Life continues to happen. And, as they say, we learn to roll with the punches. I began my recovery journey seventeen years ago. And my reason for starting it has morphed into something else. I joined 12-Step recovery to save my daughter Angie from drug addiction. In time I learned that I couldn’t save her from herself. But I could save myself from being destroyed by the family disease of addiction. And that’s why I’ve stayed—so that I can learn to live well. And what a journey it’s been! I wasn’t living well Obsessing about Angie and how to save her, ignoring my other children.Nearly bankrupting myself paying off her debts, sending her to many rehabs when one or two might have been enough to give her the tools she needed to choose recovery.When I didn’t call the police every time she stole from me, including my identity multiple times. It taught her nothing and saddled me with even more guilt for being an irresponsible parent.When I was so wrung out from it all that I collapsed into clinical depression and had to retire from my job. No, before I chose recovery I was not living well. But after seventeen years of learning to let go...

Make Room For Love

1 From Courage to Change, December 8: “As I release my resentments, I can extend compassion to the alcoholics in my life. I can love myself enough to love them too, even though I hate the disease that hurts us both. I become so full of love and compassion that I can’t keep it bottled up inside. I need to share it with others. My compassion becomes the healing light of my Higher Power shining through me to welcome and comfort other friends and family members of alcoholics.” “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I have observed how anger and resentment have made people I know sick. So I’ve never forgotten this quote that I picked up in the rooms. Whenever I start to feel burdened with resentment towards someone, my blood pressure goes up and I lose my serenity. That’s when I make an effort to shed it like a dog’s coat in the summer. The dog is much cooler and I feel...

Serenity Every Day

S From Hope for Today, November 12: “Serenity? What is that? For years I was like a weather vane that spun around according to the air currents that other people generated… I attributed these mood swings to nervousness, lack of assurance, and whoever else occupied the room at the time. Serenity always seemed beyond my control… Where does this serenity come from? It comes from trusting that everything in my life is exactly as it should be… It comes when I choose to care for myself rather than to fix someone else… THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: I am powerless over many things, but my serenity is not one of them.” “Trusting that everything in my life is exactly as it should be…” That’s the hard part, because everything in my life is not great. My daughter Angie is lost to me and has been, on and off for seventeen years. How does one learn to live with that? Everyone is different, but I find serenity by focusing on my blessings. They’re all around me: my other children, my grandchildren, and nature. The honeysuckle just blows me away with its fragrance, and the Spanish broom is an explosion of bright yellow in my back yard. My friends and my partner Gene are my daily supports. And God—he pilots my ship. In spite of my loss, I find myself saying all the time, and feeling sincerely in my heart, that life is good. And I’m filled with the elevating power of...