marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

A Different Lens

  “We are all broken—that’s how the light gets in.” Ernest Hemingway As I’ve watched Angie slipping away all these years, I’ve learned to view my life through a different lens. The tools of recovery have taught me how to be grateful for what I have, how to let go of people and situations that I can’t change, and to have faith in something greater, wiser, and more powerful than I am. Losing my child to addiction did break me a few years ago, and in my brokenness I turned toward the light that had never left. I’m so grateful that I still had the eyes to see...

Collateral Damage

Memoir Excerpt: “I was starting to feel desperate and wanting to bring my other daughter into the loop again. The holidays were looming and they’ve always been an emotional time for me. I’m flooded with memories, both happy and sad. But more than anything, I remember the anxiety, the frantic covering up, the alcohol-enabled keeping up the appearance of being happy that I felt in my childhood. As I felt Angie slipping away again, I wrote to Caroline and said I’d hoped she was OK and not getting sucked into Angie’s drama too much. But I needn’t have worried. She and her brother have been able to detach pretty well all these years. Or have they? They haven’t talked to me about what they were feeling, and I haven’t asked. But sometimes I think the bomb that exploded back in 2001 is still exploding, here and there. We’re all still licking our wounds, carrying...

An Attitude of Gratitude

From Courage to Change, August 30: “Normally my sponsor would recommend a gratitude list when I felt low, but one day, when I complained about a family situation, he suggested that I list all the things I was unhappy about. Several days later my depression had passed, and when I told my sponsor about the terrific day I was having, he suggested a gratitude list. He thought it might help me to refer to it the next time I felt blue. That made sense to me, so I complied. When I went to put this new list in the drawer where I keep my papers, I noticed the earlier list and read it once more. To my surprise, my list of grievances was almost identical to my gratitude list—the same people, same house, same life. Nothing about my circumstances had changed except the way I felt about them. For the first time I truly understood how much my attitude dictates the way I experience the world. Today’s Reminder: Today I recognize how powerful my mind can be. I can’t always feel good, and I have no interest in whitewashing my difficulties by pasting a smile on my face. But I recognize that I am constantly making choices about how how I perceive my world. With the help of Al-Anon and my friends in the fellowship, I can make these choices more consciously and more actively than ever before.” ‘Change your thoughts and you change your world.’ Norman Vincent Peale I can make an effort to be grateful instead of sad. It’s a conscious choice—because I want to be happy....

Whereto, Persephone?

Memoir Excerpt: In a letter to my daughter: “‘I imagine in your mind you feel justified in treating me so badly. But I’m here to tell you: no, you’re not, not now, not ever again.  If you can’t muster the consideration and respect that I deserve, then we need more space.  And that’s my recovery at work.’ She was in San Francisco now and crashed on her sister’s sofa. Caroline, still recovering from her initial bout with Crohn’s disease back in October, was very welcoming and didn’t put too much pressure on her to find her own place. But Angie needed to find some space of her own and was fortunate within a couple of weeks to find a group home right around the corner from her sister, on Harrison Street. She bought a bike and enjoyed tooling around the Mission. Then, while I was still reeling from December, she ended up in another hospital at the end of January, on IV antibiotics for the second time…   Angie ran away from Virginia only to find out that she couldn’t leave the addict behind. I’ll never know exactly how she ended up in the hospital for the second time, and it doesn’t matter. Angie was a grown woman learning to live in a new city. Her sister was close but unlikely to be drawn into her drama. Caroline knew a few addicts and knew plenty about addiction. But she was carefully and lovingly detached. Angie was really on her own again with no parents around. She was at yet another crossroads where she was faced with the same choices...