What Makes Rainbows?

pigeon in a tree

From Courage to Change, March 14:

“One beautiful day, a man sat down under a tree, not noticing it was full of pigeons. Shortly, the pigeons did what pigeons do best. The man shouted at the pigeons as he stormed away, resenting the pigeons as well as the offending material. But then he realized that the pigeons were merely doing what pigeons do, just because they’re pigeons and not because he was there.

Active alcoholics are people who drink. They don’t drink because of you or me, but because they are alcoholics. No matter what I do, I will not change this fact, not with guilt, shouting, begging, distracting, hiding money or bottles or keys, lying, threatening, or reasoning. I didn’t cause alcoholism. I can’t control it. And I can’t cure it. I can continue to struggle and lose. Or I can accept that I am powerless over alcohol and alcoholism, and let Al-Anon help me to redirect the energy I’ve spent on fighting this disease into recovering from its effects.

It’s not easy to watch someone I love continue to drink, but I can do nothing to stop them. If I can see how unmanageable my life has become, I can admit that I am powerless over this disease. Then I can really begin to make my life better.”


My recovery has been, among other things, about redirecting my energy into a positive force for my loved ones and me. Before I learned the tools of recovery, though I appeared to be content and successful, I was deeply troubled and unhappy on the inside. Then, when my daughter Angie became a drug addict, it all boiled to the surface. I love my daughter very much, and I would have done anything in my power to save her.

There’s that word “power” that we hear so much in the rooms. And that’s good because power and ego so often go together, and I’ve had to learn to let go of both of them. I spent several years trying to save her, but I made many mistakes and in the end was not able to influence her choices. Just like the pigeons, she’s gonna do what she has to do. I can only love her and be strong for her if and when she goes into recovery. I am, therefore, concentrating on saving myself. And if it weren’t for my daughter, I probably wouldn’t even be doing that. Beauty is often born out of loss. I still have a heart that can love—and the eyes to enjoy the beautiful sunsets here in New Mexico!

One Day At A Time…

Memoir Excerpt:

 “Being able to live one day at a time, one of the basic tenets of the Twelve-Step Programs, used to be a challenge for me. How could I live my whole life in just the next twenty-four hours—without fear or projection? That was a tall order. But particularly for addicts it’s necessary to live one day at a time. Life happens—every day—and too many stresses can occur in a mere twenty-four hours to throw us a curve and beckon us back into our addictive behavior. If we limit our vision to the day at hand, it’s easier to stay focused on our sobriety.

Early in my Twelve-Step study, I often tormented myself looking at my past mistakes because I’d felt I had it coming. “What goes around comes around,” and all that wrathful noise about divine retribution. But I don’t believe God has anything to do with my self-punishment because I believe that He is benevolent. And now I can “look back without staring” if I keep my focus on the present and remind myself that done is done, but today is the first day of the rest of my life.

Not dwelling on what happened yesterday, not worrying about what hasn’t happened yet, and having the gratitude to appreciate the colors of the sunrise today, or a kind gesture from someone, or a good meal, or a good night’s sleep—I’m always sending God thank you notes—I don’t know who else to thank! The ability to do this is one of the many rewards this Program offers us.”

“Joy And Woe Are Woven Fine…”

From “The Forum,” August, 2015, p. 19:

“I’m so grateful I found a way out of sadness, a way to take care of myself each day, and a relationship with the God of my understanding, who will never abandon me. The pain I’ve felt in the past is equal to the measure of joy I feel now.”

That’s quite a mouthful. Whoever wrote those words in “The Forum” is saying that somewhere between despair and happiness she or he did some work, found some answers. For me, anyway, I entered into a state of grace. I quite deliberately let go of my pain, which served no further purpose in my life. The lessons it taught me have been learned. I’ve put my sadness in a back drawer—and replaced it with positive thoughts that keep me motivated to reclaim my life, my remaining loved ones, and keep my heart ticking. Grief is not a badge I wear anymore. Joyfulness is.


What Does Recovery Feel Like?




Memoir Excerpt:

“Recovery from the effects of a loved one’s addiction—what else is it? It’s many things to many people. It’s being able to relish the kaleidoscope of colors in life—not just see them but also appreciate them. Life need no longer be black and white, even gray. My friend, Debby, coming out of a meeting recently, exclaimed:

 ‘Oh, what a gorgeous sunset!’

That’s what recovery is: being able, in spite of everything, to swim with the currents of life—and be grateful one can still swim. Thirteen years seem like a long time to watch one’s child slowly succumb to the disease of addiction, though I know other parents who have traveled this road longer. Angie has bounced in and out of recovery and so have I. I have no wish to outlive my child, but many parents do just that, whether the enemy is cancer or any other disease.”

Living In The Solution

I messaged a friend on Facebook: “Oh, God Bless, Maryann, my heart goes out to you and all of us mothers. I often say in my book and on these sites that I’m grieving a living death because Angie, my daughter, is not the person who’s walking in her shoes. She’s split right down the middle. Anyway, we all have different stories, but some parts are so familiar. My memoir was all about finding solutions for myself, and I hope it helps you too. One thing I’ve learned on this difficult journey is to live in the solution, not in the problem. That’s how I’ve learned to be happy. Hugs to you!

From a Nar-Anon handout: “People like myself whose problems have brought them to the point of despair have come to Nar-Anon to seek advice and find solutions. As soon as they attend the first meeting they feel like they have come home and feel like they are among people who really understand. And fortunate is the newcomer who finds a group that permits such expression. It gives those who have gone before them a way to give encouragement and hope. The newcomer discovers that it is by giving and receiving in our sharing that we are able to heal ourselves, and slowly we are able to regain control of our lives again.

But still more fortunate is the newcomer who finds a group that does not allow such unburdening to continue meeting after meeting. There is work to be done; Nar-Anon is not a sounding board for continually reviewing our miseries, but a way to learn how to detach ourselves from them.

A Recovery reminder:

I will learn by listening, by reading all the Nar-Anon literature as well as all good books on the subject of addiction, by working and trying to live the 12 Steps. The more I read and study the more knowledge I receive. Knowledge is power, and I will be able to help myself as well as others.”

The Adult Child: Growing Up In The Program

Memoir Excerpt:

“Recovery from addiction, one’s own or from the effects of someone else’s, is not an easy accomplishment. My program of recovery has enabled me to grow in self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-forgiveness. I’ve committed many sins in my life, against my sister and others. There were very few consequences, and so I internalized my guilt. I would be forever crippled until I found a way to let go of that baggage.

This healing Program has shown me how to face myself in the mirror honestly, with gentleness, kindness and praise for the good things I have done. I’ve learned how to hold myself accountable for my actions and cease blaming others. I’ve learned the importance of making a simple apology, something I didn’t learn as a child.

In fact, I’ve often said in meetings that I grew up in my recovery groups. And it’s true. I am an adult child: chronologically an adult but emotionally immature, though less so as I continue in my recovery. Many of us who grow up with alcoholism have addictive personalities ourselves and find ourselves ill prepared to meet life’s challenges effectively. We often marry our addicted parent, or we look outside of ourselves for sources of comfort. There is an absence of differentiation, as Dr. Gabor Maté explains (237). Many of us overeat, pop too many pills, shop too much, drink too much, work too much, etc. Addiction is everywhere in our society. It temporarily fills in our hollow spaces until we feel better. A soundly moral character, among many other things, has gone a long way toward keeping my addictions at bay—one day at a time.”

Doing The Difficult…

When I joined Al-Anon fourteen years ago, I just wanted to save my daughter from the grips of addiction. I went back to meetings but kept wondering, “Where was the magic bullet?” God kept me going to those fellowship meetings, even after I realized that there was none. Many newcomers leave at this point, but I’m glad I kept going back. It gradually dawned on me that I had a huge problem and that I was sick too. And so I started to listen better and put the focus on myself. I learned how I was unknowingly making a bad situation worse, and how for my own sake, if not for Angie’s, I needed to try to change my attitude and behavior. I needed to muster a lot of courage where my daughter was concerned, something I hadn’t been able to do before. Now, many meetings, readings, and roller coaster rides later, happiness is a gift I give myself every day that I work my spiritual program. And “it’s an inside job!” Blessings to all!

“Never, Ever Give Up Hope”


A Memoir of Recovery

I feel very honored to be a guest on Carol Graham’s Radio Show, “Never, Ever Give Up Hope.” It was such a pleasure to talk about my memoir with Carol, who has overcome many personal challenges, and has written about them in her own book, Battered Hope.

Our conversation shines a light on my daughter Angie before she became ill with drug addiction, which only emphasizes the tragedy and cruelty of the disease that is claiming so many of our young people. But the memoir is primarily my story where I gradually weave my own recovery into the pages even as I’ve watched my daughter falter. Carol and I share the same philosophy: that no matter what life throws our way, we can learn to deal with it and live well and happily.

She has become a good friend. I look forward to continuing my story in my next memoir—a lighter, humorous collection of stories from my travels and escapades—and talking with her again.

The interview has gone live. You can listen to it on her website: http://neverevergiveuphopenet.blogspot.ca/2016/04/love-and-redemption-overcoming-guilt.html

You can also find it on Apple i-Tunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/love-redemption-overcoming/id1014754680?i=365336143&mt=2

Or listen to the Stitcher podcast:


I hope you will enjoy, share, and review these downloads and invite your friends to do the same. I think it’s important to continue the conversation around addiction so it will lose its stigma and someday be viewed with the same compassion as other chronic illnesses.