marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Judgment Calls

Memoir Excerpt: “It was all very well for me to be down in Virginia, waging my battles every day with Angie living in my house, desperately seeking some kind of relief from my suffering. But there were other people in my life, friends and family, who wanted to know what was going on. I imagined my sister screaming at me over the phone: “Maggie, do something!” How can you let her kill herself like this?” I responded in my mind, lacking the courage to say the words: “Lucy, until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, please shut up.” I never had such a conversation with my sister. I was only imagining the outside world knocking on my door—and judging, always judging—just as I had felt judged and condemned as a child. On a visit to his son in a treatment center, David Sheff listens to a program counselor’s words: “If your child had cancer, the support from your friends and family would flood in. Because of the stigma of addiction, people often keep it quiet. Their friends and family may try to be supportive, but they may also communicate a subtle or unsubtle judgment.” A Mother’ s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here...

Silver Linings

From Courage to Change, January 11: ‘For me, alcoholism has proven to be a bittersweet legacy—bitter because of the pain I suffered, and sweet, because if it weren’t for that pain, I wouldn’t have searched for and found a better way of living.’ “Al-Anon Faces Alcoholism” I try every day to hold onto the serenity I’ve found. I want that for all of us struggling through the despair of addiction. Praying we can find some peace in the midst of this cruel disease, through any means possible. Blessings to us...

A Doctor’s Perspective

“Maggie’s bittersweet story addresses her loving journey and ultimately her leaving everything in the hands of a higher power. Her love, not only for her child but also for those in the grips of addiction, shines radiantly through. Despite having treated numerous individuals with assorted addictions over many years, her story brought tears to my eyes.” Rob Lee, M.D. A Mother’ s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here...

Loving Is Enough

From Courage to Change, January 8: “I once emphatically told my family that their bickering was making our newly-sober loved one nervous and this might cause her to start drinking again. I was shocked when I was told just as emphatically “Well, let her!” I realized that I was still trying to make everything smooth and easy for the alcoholic, because I hadn’t accepted that I was just as powerless over alcoholism in sobriety as I had been during the active years. It was then that I truly discovered how beautifully ‘Letting go and letting God’ can truly work. When I fully understood how powerless I was over the situation, I was able to trust that the alcoholic has her own Higher Power and that, together, they can work out her future. I felt like a new person because I was free of the constant need to watch over her, free to live my own life. I care about the alcoholic in my life more than I can say. I wish her health, happiness, and sobriety, but I cannot hand these things to her. Angie and her Higher Power are in charge of that. I can only love her, and when I stop to think about it, that is...

More…Letting Go

Hello friends and family! I’m back East in northern Virginia right now packing up my belongings and preparing to sell the condo where I lived with Angie at the start of her illness. Some of you know that guilt was a constant thread in the story I wrote, and thanks to my recovery in the 12-Step fellowships I’ve been able to free myself of that destructive emotion and get on with my life. I’ve been sharing excerpts sequentially, but this one is from the very end of the book because I’m here now doing what I said I would do: “While talking to my son recently, he inadvertently reminded me that I still have some unfinished business to take care of. He didn’t recognize how difficult that would be. So… I went back to my condo in Virginia, where it all began. Carlos had been chiding me, ‘Mom, when are you gonna get tired of burning hundred dollar bills?’ I felt jolted by that question and have spent some time reflecting on it. I moved to New Mexico five years ago. Why have I been sitting on the fence all this time? It’s a luxury I don’t need. Why has it been hard to let go of my condo? It is true that it’s an extravagance I don’t need. But letting go of it had been unthinkable—until now. Letting go—the learning of it, the doing of it—is a curious exercise. We cling for dear life to things we cherish, afraid that we’ll never have something so fine again. But I’ve learned these past few years that we can also...