marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Redemption and Freedom

From Hope For Today, October 29: “Now when my son tells me he was teased at school, I pass on my recovery lessons to him as we talk about self-love. I teach him what I have learned in Al-Anon. I help him by suggesting simple ways he can detach. I explain how he can let it begin with him by not retaliating. I help him understand that sometimes he also does things that hurt others and that he can feel better about himself by making amends. Not only has Al-Anon helped heal my past, it’s helping me give my son a healthier future.” In an excerpt from my recovery memoir, I draw a similar conclusion: “Angie told me once that she hated NA meetings because pimps, dealers, and strung-out junkies just itching for their next high often attended them. But in her case I don’t think that’s true. I think she didn’t go to meetings because she needed to deal with her addiction her way, and not be told by anyone else what to do: CSR—compulsively self-reliant—just like her mother. Or maybe she just wasn’t ready to embrace recovery at all, a painful possibility I had not yet considered. I was still determined, at that point, to believe that she was going to beat her addiction and that I, of course, would be the glorious savior she would spend the rest of her life thanking, handing me my redemption on a silver platter. I would finally, thank God, let go of the oppressive burden I was placing on my daughter by demanding she get well so that I could...

My Life As Pentimento

For many of us, writing is a journey of self-discovery, full of delights and surprises. I never set out to write a memoir. I had no plan or outline, no clear beginning and an unknown conclusion. It just became one along the way. Seven years ago, I had just discovered that my daughter was a heroin addict. So in my grief and frustration I found relief by writing about it. And then I stopped.  I moved to New Mexico where I met a writer who would become my teacher and coach. Looking over what I had started writing she encouraged me to turn it into something. So I did: I gave her a 500+ page rant, something Chris Offut would call “the delirium of the first draft!” Well, I thought I was done. I was thinking of section titles and started writing notes to myself in the margins: things like “Oh, by the way, I had a miserable childhood;” and “Hush, hush, don’t tell anyone, but I’m an addict, too.” And I realized in confronting these truths about myself that this was my story. Angie and her drug addiction was the catalyst, certainly, that got me writing. But the story began with me. So I went back and wrote an introduction, a window into my childhood and young adulthood as Angie’s mother. I wanted you, the reader, to know me. And I felt it was important for you to know my daughter as well. She was a beautiful, gifted, full-of-promise child and young woman—before this cruel disease corrupted her. The rest of the book started out as the roller...

Enabling Vs. “Helping”

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1940769140/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1940769140&linkCode=as2&tag=merchear-20 Memoir Excerpt: “Years later in one of my support groups in New Mexico, a friend shared how she had to lock everything up in her house. She’d lock the jewelry here, the silver there. She had a different key for every place, and one time she was so flummoxed by her son that she lost all the keys! We laughed together at that one, grateful that we still could laugh. This is what it comes to for many of us parents. We erect walls to protect ourselves, keeping the addicts out. And then, of course, we feel guilty about doing that. Angie was stealing valuables from my home again, just as she had been two years before, in order to sell them for drug money. It was safer, she thought, to steal from me than from a store. She already knew what an enabler I was; but she was still a thief. And even though her addiction pushed her onto the wrong path, she still should have paid the consequences if she was going to learn and mature. They will work us, manipulate us, and use every tool in their arsenal to get what they want if they’re still using. Parents are so vulnerable, and they’re walking a fine line between helping their child recover, and enabling them to continue using. We learn eventually to sit frozen in inaction, to do nothing.  We learn to let our addicts be accountable for their own actions, and hopefully learn from the consequences (eviction, jail, death). But it’s that last consequence that holds us hostage, keeps us doing for our addict...

Love and Enabling

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1940769140/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1940769140&linkCode=as2&tag=merchear-20 I just finished reading Libby Cataldi’s book, Stay Close. In my book, I say that I try to stay in communication with Angie, but reading Libby convinced me to “stay closer.” I feel strong enough to keep up communication without feeling drawn into the orbit of her manipulation and insanity. Whatever happens, I want her to know that I’ve always loved my daughter inside the addict—and I always will. In the Afterword in Libby’s book, Dr. Patrick MacAfee has these words to say: “I believe that ‘stagli vicino’—staying close but out of the way of the insanity—is best. If you are dealing with addiction, offer the addict roads to recovery, not more money or bailouts. Excuses keep people sick…The fear of watching a loved one failing is frightening, but don’t let it cloud your realization that the natural extension of love and caring may only enable the addict’s...