marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

The Courage to Change

From the blue Nar-Anon pamphlet: Changing Ourselves “Addiction is like a chain reaction. It is a disease which affects the addict as well as the family members, friends and co-workers. We try to control, cover up, and take on the responsibilities of the addict. The sickness spreads to those of us who care the most. Eventually, we begin to feel used and unhappy. We worry, lose trust and become angry. The addict blames us and we feel guilty. If only something or someone would change! When we discover Nar-Anon, we find others with the same feelings and problems. We learn we cannot control the addict or change him. We have become so addicted to the addict that it is difficult to shift the focus back to ourselves. We find that we must let go and turn to faith in a Higher Power. By working the steps, following the traditions and using the tools of the program, we begin, with the love and help of our Higher Power and others, to change ourselves. As we reach out for help, we become ready to reach out a helping hand and heart to those in need of Nar-Anon. We understand. We do recover. Slowly, new persons emerge. Change is taking place.”   Though I have changed and grown through my work in the program, I still love my daughter and am available to help her if she reaches out to me for help. The difference is that I’m a healthier person now and am able to make the tough choices I couldn’t make years ago. I pray she finds the strength to...

“She’s Been What???”

Memoir Excerpt: “I guess none of us knew at that point what we were dealing with, but we were soon to find out. In January my birthday came and went without a word from Angie, and I felt that same familiar cloud descending into my carefully protected space threatening my well-being… Doc called that weekend of the 12th, telling me that Angie and Joe had taken off without a word. I’ll never forget how I felt when he told me this. That same familiar hollowness returned, as if I’d been gutted on the spot. And as to Doc, I was speechless with shame, after all he and his family had done for them. A couple of days later, Angie called from Richmond, asking me to pay for one night in a hotel before they went back to Doc’s to apologize. They went back to Doc’s all right, but not to apologize. Doc called to tell me that someone had broken into his house, stolen his credit cards, and taken his truck. Apparently they had been sleeping in the chicken coop, in January, waiting for the best time to make their move. ‘Sleeping in the chicken coop?’ I moaned to myself. Oh, God, what had she come to? He called the police, and they were picked up pretty quickly in Baltimore. The policeman who arrested them told me that Angie tried to get away, screaming, “I’ll kill myself if you arrest me!” They were both taken to the jail in Baltimore. Joe was locked up on the spot for grand larceny/car theft; Angie was released to the psych ward in...

Angie’s Tapestry

I’m happy to announce that my memoir is the winner in the “Health: Addiction and Recovery” category of the 2015 International Book Awards. http://www.internationalbookawards.com  ...

Weathering The Storms

From Each Day is a New Beginning, May 16: ‘It is only the women whose eyes have been washed clear with tears who get the broad vision that makes them little sisters to all the world’—Dorothy Dix “The storms in our lives benefit us like the storms that hit our towns and homes and wash clean the air we breathe. Our storms bring to the surface the issues that plague us…Recovery is a whole series of storms, storms that help to sprout new growth and storms that flush clean our own clogged drains. The peace that comes after a storm is worth singing about.” Growing up surrounded by addiction and falling prey to the disease myself, I was in the veritable forest, unable to see the trees. My deep and overriding love for my daughter forced me to open my eyes and see what was right in front of me. I took a large leap toward healing myself so that I could be well enough to enjoy all my blessings. As I conclude in the final chapter of my memoir, “What could be a better testament to Angie, to all her gifts and possibilities, than to go forward with my life savoring every moment?” Many friends in Al-Anon have expressed gratitude to their addict/alcoholic for getting them into the rooms of recovery— these same friends who, like me, deeply mourn the lost years with our loved one—but who, also like me, refuse to offer another victim up to the altar of addiction. We have made it through the storm, and have found that we have something to sing...

Slow Suicide

Memoir Excerpt: “Lately I’ve been reading a few books on suicide: Jill Bialosky’s query into her sister’s suicide; and Judy Collins’ heartfelt story about the addiction and suicide of her only child, Clark. Both of these authors consulted with the late Dr. Edwin S. Shneidman, a well-known suicidologist. His word, “psychache,” resonated with me. From watching Angie grow into the addict she has become as an adult, I can see how that term would apply to her. If ever there was an aching psyche, it was hers, so in pain and so unable to express that pain effectively to those she loved. I often feel that drug addiction and the pain that accompanies it is a form of suicide, slow and relentless, if left untreated. My father made attempts here and there to give up gin and tobacco. When he had his gall bladder removed the nurses made him cough into a bag, and he was so disgusted with what came up that he stopped smoking for a while. But he never completely set aside his self-destructive behavior. It was like an old friend who reminded him of what he’d often felt as a child from an uncaring, abusive father: “You’re not good enough, not important enough.” As a young man working in the family business, he met and fell in love with my mother, who spent a good part of their marriage echoing his father’s disappointment in him. Where do the seeds of addiction take root? It’s the old chicken and the egg confusion. Was my father predestined to become an alcoholic? Or was he made one by...