marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Another Perspective

“A Open Letter to My Family (from the drug addict) I am a drug user. I need help. Don’t solve my problems for me. This only makes me lose respect for you. Don’t lecture, moralize, scold, blame, or argue, whether I’m loaded or sober. It may make you feel better, but it will make the situation worse. Don’t accept my promises. The nature of my illness prevents my keeping them, even though I mean them at the time. Promising is only my way of postponing pain. Don’t keep switching agreements; if an agreement is made, stick to it. Don’t lose your temper with me. It will destroy you and any possibility of helping me. Don’t allow your anxiety for me to make you do what I should do for myself. Don’t cover up or spare me the consequences of my using. It may reduce the crisis, but it will make my illness worse. Above all, don’t run away from reality as I do.Drug dependence, my illness, gets worse as my using continues. Start now to learn, to understand, to plan for recovery. Find NAR-ANON, whose groups exist to help the families of drug abusers. I need help: from a doctor, a psychologist, a counselor, from an addict who found recovery in NA, and from God. Your User”   Enmeshment can be crippling: we don’t have enough emotional distance, often, to deal intelligently and effectively with the addict. Stepping back, detaching, takes discipline and restraint. Such a hard thing to do when we’re in this emotional minefield. It has taken me years in my recovery program to act more and...

“Deal From Strength”

  “Nar-Anon Do’s and Don’ts: Do note the effect the user has on each member of the family… Do always encourage attempts to seek help. Do remember to see the good in others and yourself. Don’t accept guilt for another person’s acts. Don’t nag, argue, lecture or recall past mistakes. Don’t overprotect, cover up or rescue from the consequences. Don’t neglect yourself or be a doormat. Don’t forget that addiction is a disease, not a moral issue.. Do allow other people to accept their own responsibilities. Don’t manipulate or make idle threats. Do involve yourself with the activities of Nar-Anon. Do learn to be open and honest. Don’t yearn for perfection in yourself or others. Do grow day by day, by reading Nar-Anon literature. Do remember to focus on your OWN reactions and attitudes. Don’t overlook the growth opportunities of a crisis. Don’t underestimate the importance of release with love (commonly called detachment with love). Do please try to manage your anxieties with love. Don’t start the recovery program with the user. Start with the family at Nar-Anon, meeting and learning the difference between destructive and constructive...

If We Only Had A Crystal Ball…

My daughter, Angie, got through childhood and adolescence very well, and not unlike many other young people. But there were signs of the coming storm. Here’s an early excerpt from my award-winning recovery memoir: “If I was surprised by my daughter’s drug addiction in 2001, it’s because she appeared so functional and went out of her way to hide herself from me.  Later on once her addiction had taken hold of her, I would be incredulous at the dysfunctional behavior I was seeing. It’s as though she had become possessed. She had problems, but I thought I was helping her deal with them responsibly. There were no visible red flags. She didn’t stay in bed every day and pull the covers over her head. She diligently saw her therapist every week, facing every day with discipline and good humor. She never missed her classes and she never quit her jobs. Her grades were excellent. Maybe—and this is important to recognize now—this was the beginning of the denial that would hamper me throughout Angie’s addiction, preventing me from dealing with her illness intelligently and effectively. Angie was a good daughter. But please, beware of the complacency in those words.  Clearly, she hid her pain very well. Clearly, much was lurking beneath the surface that I did not see. And if I ache with the vacant promise of all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” it’s because I know that even if I had known what was coming down the road, I couldn’t have stopped it.”  ~from A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym), available on...

Boundaries

Self-care is all about healthy choices: choosing how we live and how we are treated by others. Living with addiction puts us at risk in ways we hadn’t imagined. I often moved boundaries around to accommodate others. But when I saw how that was hurting me, I was able to step back and enforce my boundaries. We are not responsible for the chaos. It’s not our fault. I won’t allow it in my house. I’ve often seen this attitude help addicts make different choices for themselves. Boundaries benefit...

Memoir Is More Than Storytelling

Three years ago I authored an award-winning memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym). Today Denis Ledoux published my thoughts on memoir writing, “Spelunking.” Visit The Memoir Network’s The Memoir Writer’ Blog/The Memoir Professional’s Blog for my recent article....

Spiritual Empowerment

I love my recovery program because it makes me aware of my choices. I’m not on automatic pilot anymore, and I don’t have to react to situations the way I used to. As I start to take better control of my life, I become an actor, and I can write more of my own story. The past is over; the future hasn’t happened yet. But I have today—and today I choose to live...

Surrender Is Not Submission

  From Each Day A New Beginning, July 19: “‘At fifteen life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance…’ ~Maya Angelou We had to surrender to a power greater than ourselves to get to where we are today. And each day we have to turn to that power for strength and guidance. For us, resistance means struggle—struggle with others as well as an internal struggle. Serenity isn’t compatible with struggle. We cannot control forces outside of ourselves…And when we choose to surrender our attempts to control, we will find peace…” I often write about the pain of resistance. How the very word carries an aura of courage and strength. Those of us who have addicted loved ones would do anything, it seems, to save them from from such a miserable life. I spent a number of years trying to save Angie—resisting—and refusing to allow her the dignity of her own (poor)  choices. I felt courageous then, determined. I couldn’t surrender to the power of addiction; I thought it would be cowardly. But I tried and failed to save Angie. She’s been in and out of recovery for fifteen years. And though I pray she reaches for recovery again and comes back to her family, I can’t make that choice for her. She can only save herself. And I truly believe that the addicts who recover do so because it is their own desire to get their lives back—not someone else’s. So I’ve learned that I can only save myself. When I give up the struggle to change things I can’t control, my...

“Let Go And Let God”

“In Al-Anon, letting go and letting God means exchanging the finite, narrow limitations of our own self-will for the infinite wisdom of our Higher Power. We turn our lives over to the Higher Power’s care, confident that in God’s time, solutions to our problems and relief from our pain will come to us. The lily symbolized this slogan and was inspired by the biblical passage that tells us: ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’ By making the Twelve Steps a part of our lives, learning to trust God’s will, and practicing program principles in all our affairs, we continually renew our faith and achieve our own special beauty as our serenity grows.” My life is so much simpler when I let go of things and people I can’t control and turn the struggle over. What had been weighing me down is lifted from my shoulders and I feel lighter, more at peace. This frees me to live my life better, unencumbered by negative thoughts for which I have no solutions. Life can still be good for us; it’s all a matter of...

The Wolf You Feed

“I am sometimes at odds with my recovery groups about the nature of addiction: is it a disease or a choice? I don’t want to force my views on them. There’s a wonderful Cherokee tale told by a grandfather to his grandchildren: ‘There’s a battle inside all of us between two wolves. One wolf is jealousy, greed, dishonesty, hatred, anger and bitterness. The other wolf is love, generosity, truthfulness, selflessness, and gratitude.’ ‘Who wins the battle, grandfather?’ ‘The wolf you feed.’ Insist that our loved ones are choosing to be addicts, that they want to stick a needle in their arm and live in a gutter, and we feel justified in our anger and our bitterness. Keep feeding those feelings, and they will consume you. I choose to believe that my daughter is wired differently and is prone to addictive disease. That’s no surprise, since four generations in my family have all had addictive disease in varying degrees.  For whatever reason we still are unsure of, whatever life stresses beckoned her into that dark place, she became a victim of addiction.” ~excerpt from my award-winning memoir A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (available on Amazon) Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has said: “I’ve studied alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and more recently obesity. There’s a pattern in compulsion. I’ve never come across a single person that was addicted that wanted to be addicted. Something has happened in their brains that has led to that...

Serenity Every Day

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.” Trust. That’s a hard one for many of us. I am an adult child, and being able to trust anyone has been difficult. So I became very controlling, trying to manipulate events to suit me. I had no faith that things were happening as they were meant to. I was always forcing outcomes. But eventually that behavior took a terrible toll on me and my most important relationships. I was far too dependent on others and what was going on in their lives. This weather vane was spinning out of control. I needed to find a way to center myself. I’ve learned to recognize situations in my life that I have no control over. And I’ve learned to let go of them and the people attached to them. My life is much simpler when I “stay in my own hula hoop” and concentrate on making my own life better. It’s the only thing I have the power to control. Joyfulness...