marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Whereto, Persephone?

Memoir Excerpt: “Something snapped in me back in the woods of Virginia. Not because I saw with such clarity what Angie was falling back into. In fact, my wailing in the woods had very little to do with my daughter. Losing her to the madness of addiction was just the final loss in a string of losses I had never properly grieved or shouted out or laid to rest. Loss of self more than anything—that was my greatest loss. I’d been carrying the empty weight of that around since I was a child and I wanted to be free of it. The way I’d been managing the challenge of Angie’s illness, certainly in the beginning, reflected an unhealthy lack of self-regard much of the time. It wasn’t my load to carry anymore and doing so only slowed my progress in my own recovery. Slowly through a decade of Twelve-Step work I’d become a better person, though being only human, I’ve had plenty of slips. But somehow Angie’s latest relapse pushed me to the front of another perfect storm: of old useless attitudes confronting renewal, growth—and love. Love in all its forms: from detachment with love to a joyful embrace of myself. I was finally letting go of my painful past and moving forward lighter and freer. 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...

Deal From Strength

“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue, an everlasting vision of the ever-changing view.” —Carole King We all live our lives, savoring our victories and weathering the storms we encounter. Some years are better or worse than others. I’ve been sorely challenged most of my life with family illness and dysfunction, and if it weren’t for the wisdom in this quote I’d be thinking I’m the victim of poor fortune and full of self-pity. But that’s not the case. I’ve learned the value of keeping a grateful heart and daily jotting down all of my blessings in a journal. The challenge of addiction is still with me, but I’m not consumed by it, defined by it, or obsessed with it. My focus is elsewhere: on the positive aspects of my life, my joys, and my strengths. It is from this that I am learning to deal my hand. And when I remember to be positive, it’s a winning hand.          ...

“Blame Is For God And Small Children”

Memoir Excerpt: “Lately I’ve been reading a few books on suicide: Jill Bialosky’s query into her sister’s suicide (84); and Judy Collins’ heartfelt story about the addiction and suicide of her only child, Clark (111). 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...

Carpe Diem

  Spending too much time regretting our past mistakes and/or fearing what may happen in the future keep us from looking at what’s right in front of us: the here and now. But the present moment is all that’s real and something we can hold onto. So I will try to be present and attentive to what’s going on right now. That’s how I can relish what’s good in my life and enjoy the ride. From Hope For Today: September 5: “…In Step Four I realized I was stuck in the past. My daily thoughts were usually about plans for the next day, week, or even month. I always anticipated tomorrow to the point where it became my today. I’d get so caught up in what I was going to do that I often wasn’t aware of what I was doing now. After realizing this character defect and asking my Higher Power to remove it, each day I have is usually better than the one before. I give thanks for the little joys in each day. I still make plans, but I don’t let my thoughts erase the present. Anticipation is sweet, but not at the coast of today. When I look back on this in the context of alcoholism, I understand why I behaved as I did. With all the awful happenings at home, there were many today’s I didn’t want to experience. As a child, I had limited options, so the best way to escape was to flee into the possibility of a better tomorrow. I have different choices now. I know enjoying my day and doing...

“We Are All Broken, That’s How The Light Gets In.”

  Memoir Excerpt: “This journey of mine, this parenting journey, would involve going two steps forward sometimes and then three steps backward. It was not vertical progress I was making, but it was progress. And strangely, the more I kept the focus on myself and striving to be happy, the easier it was to let go of my child. I knew I had paid my dues, and I feared no one’s judgment, least of all God’s. I’ve railed at God many, many times during these dozen years of joy and pain, this God they speak of at Twelve-Step meetings. How many times had I sinned in my life? Many, more than I want to remember. And so the child in me had been sure, earlier on, that I was being punished for all of them. It was my karmic payback. “What goes around comes around,” etc. Indeed, for all of my life, before my breakdown, I had no faith in any thing or any one other than myself. I grew up very lonely and isolated, and if there was a god, he wasn’t paying any attention to me. So I learned to be very independent and self-reliant. But when I finally found myself on my knees, I felt broken and whole at the same time: broken because my MO for dealing with my problems hadn’t been working; and whole because I finally let myself believe in something outside of myself to strengthen me, to fill in the gaps that were missing in me, and to help me cope. I was starting to develop and cling to a faith that...