marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

My Daughter/Myself

Memoir Excerpt: “Parents of addicts need to remember that addiction is not a choice: who in their right mind would choose to stick a needle in their arm day after day and live in the gutter? It’s an illness, and has been recognized as such by the American Medical Association. Victims of addiction of all forms deserve compassion, and hopefully they will avail themselves of the recovery opportunities out there. 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 be OK. My mother unconsciously did the same thing with her children: she was a demanding perfectionist, beating back the pain of self-doubt and unworthiness by raising “successful” children. I’m very glad to have found recovery from my dysfunctional upbringing. It has helped to “relieve...

Staying In The Solution

  The Problem: Someone we love is sick with addiction. The Solution: Acceptance of my powerlessness over someone else’s addiction; Faith in God’s plan; Gratitude (for ice cream and sunsets…and rainbows). Every day when I wake up I do my best to live in the solution; my life works better when I...

Second Chances

A close friend ended a heartfelt note recently with these words: “Marilea, I really regret keeping that secret from you all these years. I just couldn’t tell you, and I’m sorry. Can you ever forgive me?” My response to her: “There’s nothing to forgive! I don’t waste my time with might have been’s, what should have been done differently, or said more—because that doesn’t serve me now. We don’t get to go back and do things over. But we do get a second chance to live well. We can pass on what we’ve learned to all our loved ones. And those who come after us will benefit from our hard-won lessons. That’s enough for me. And when you think about it, that’s a great deal! Much love to you,” Dwelling on the past keeps us stuck and unable to move ahead in our lives unencumbered. In Courage To Change, there’s a wonderful saying: “Look back without staring.” We can certainly know and understand where we’ve come from. But it doesn’t have to limit our possibilities now. We just need to find the courage to change what’s necessary and move...

“Nana, Do You Believe In God?”

Memoir Excerpt: “Xavier and I had spent a lot of money on rehabs. But it didn’t matter. I’d already hurt my health, ended my career. But none of that mattered to her. The only thing that mattered, the only thing, was her willingness to do what was necessary to get well. If she had had cancer, and the doctor said she needed chemo to get well, she would have needed to go for her chemo treatments. If she’d had diabetes, and needed insulin to stay alive, she would have needed to take insulin. She held all the cards, all the passports, to a healthy life, the life her parents had dreamed for her when she came into the world. But could she do it alone? I didn’t believe so. Some addicts recover without having faith in something outside of themselves; they rely on willpower, among other things. Faith in God or any “higher power” is, for many addicts, a difficult idea to embrace. And Angie, ever since she was little, had been a confirmed atheist. In 1987 when Angie was eight, she was visiting my mother in Massachusetts. She adored her Nana, and confided in her things that I didn’t know about. During one of these chats, Angie said, “Nana, do you believe in God?” “Well, of course, Angie, don’t you?” my mother responded. “NO I DON’T, NANA, NOT ONE BIT!” My mother, before she died, used to love telling me that story. She was tremendously amused by Angie’s stubbornness and independence. But now, at this point in her life, Angie needed faith more than anything, because whatever she...

The Wind In My Sails

  “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott   I often hear that we must deal from strength, and I believe it to be true. So many times when I’ve made decisions based on fear, my judgment has been faulty and they haven’t been good ones. Now I’m learning to tame my fears, even turn them over to God. I’m freer to make clear-headed decisions and remain flexible—but sure. It’s going to be a beautiful day....