Again, Who Are Our Teachers?

From Each Day A New Beginning, June 18:

“…we could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.” —Helen Keller

We chase after joy, like a child after a firefly, being certain that in joy all problems are solved, all questions are answered. Joy has its rewards, and we deserve them. But life has more to teach us.

We need to learn patience; through patience we learn to respect time and its passage, and we are mellowed. We need to learn tolerance; through tolerance our appreciation of another’s individuality is nurtured. We need to learn self-respect; self-respect prepares us to contribute more freely to our experiences, and we find wholeness…”

Triumph Over Despair

Thank you, Amazon customer, for this 5-Star review of my recovery memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero

“This very well crafted tale delves into the misery of hard drug addiction, not simply from the addict’s perspective, but from the point of view of those who go to great lengths to help the user. Ms. Romero writes exceptionally well, and the unfolding tale of her recovery is positively gripping. She conveys the wrenching pain of a parent living through her child’s descent into the horrors of progressive, ultimately rampaging addiction. Every effort to help Angie eventually yields more despair, but the author survives to triumph over heartbreak.”

“Keep It Simple”

From Each Day A New Beginning, June 25:

“’I have a simple philosophy. Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.’               Alice Roosevelt Longworth

All too often, we complicate our lives. We can wonder and worry our way into confusion; obsession or preoccupation it’s often called. ‘What if?’ ‘Will he?’ ‘Should I?’ ‘What do you think?’ We seldom stop trying to figure out what to do, where to do it, how to meet a challenge, until someone reminds us to ‘keep it simple.’

What we each discover, again and again, is that the solution to any problem becomes apparent when we stop searching for it. The guidance we need for handling any difficulty, great or small, can only come into focus when we remove the barriers to it, and the greatest barrier is our frantic effort to personally solve the problem.”


Amen to that! “Simplify” is one of my favorite directives. Tidy surroundings are very important to me, but much more important is keeping a tidy mind. My emotional sobriety depends on it. And without emotional peace, I ‘m vulnerable to my own addictions.

My addict, Angie, is thirty-seven, all of my children are in their thirties, and they are old enough to be independent and accountable for the choices they make. If Angie were fifteen, I wouldn’t be saying this. I would still be her legal guardian and would have some leverage over her. But she’s not a teenager, and I’ve learned to get out of her way and let her solve her own problems.

It’s hard, of course, to let go like this no matter how old our children are. But when I remember to keep it simple my life works better. I sleep better, for one thing, and that gives me the strength to face the challenges of each new day—wild fires, monsoons, and flash floods. Welcome to New Mexico!




Family Ties

(excerpt from the Prologue of my memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero)

“Where might my daughter be now if fate, or genes, had been kinder to her? Now, several years into her illness, I am coming to terms with the terrible legacy that began generations ago in my own family and which I have unwittingly passed on to my daughter.  All these years I’ve diligently searched for answers, clarity, and solace in the face of terrible pain. Like a gift from the universe, it has come to me slowly, and it is with me now. But it’s been a hard won victory.

 Looking back, it’s hard to believe Angie ever could have been such a joyful child.  True, her start in life was, between the colic, screaming, and subsequent hernia operation at a mere three months, not a smooth one.  But she bounced forward into childhood so that I never imagined what would be down the road many years later.  There were signs, yes, but I never saw the enormity of full-blown drug addiction coming. In any case there’s nothing I could have done to prevent the dreadful onslaught that would engulf my family.

I liken the effect addiction has on families to a bomb exploding in the living room with everyone nearby.  The shrapnel hits us all in different places; none of us is left untouched, though some may be wounded more than others. Some even ignore the explosion or block it out as the insidious effects of addiction take root in these bewildered individuals.

What happens when a bomb drops anywhere? Doesn’t everybody run for cover? That’s what happened in my family. Angie’s brother and sister got out of the way as much as possible—a healthy response, I suppose—shrapnel wounds can be pretty dreadful. It broke my heart to see them pull away from their sister. But now Angie was so isolated in her family. And so began the long journey, Angie’s father’s and mine, of carrying her, much of the time, on our backs.”


The Power Of Faith

From Hope For Today, June 13:

“…What I had overlooked in Step Two was the word ‘Power.’ The day I started placing my attention on that Power instead of on insanity, I began to see miracles in my life. One such miracle was my ability to talk about my fears in Al-Anon meetings. Other miracles included taking the Twelve Steps that lead me to serenity, and engaging in the process of forgiving and healing.”

It has taken many years of hearing Step Two read at meetings for me to really hear the word ‘Power.’ Now I realize how much more awesome my Higher Power is than this disease. Instead of dwelling in fear, today I am striving to pass on the miracles of recovery to my children.



“Deal From Strength”

From The Forum, October, 2014:

“Before I came to Al-Anon, when I was figuring out if I was okay, I had a mental checklist: is my daughter okay, is my son okay, and is my husband okay? If I could answer yes to all of those, then I knew I was okay. When I could no longer deny that my teenage son had a big problem with alcohol and drugs, I was no longer able to feel okay, because he wasn’t okay. I had it backwards.

In Al-Anon, I’m learning how to be okay without first checking in with my loved ones to see if they are okay, If they aren’t, maybe I can say or do something helpful; maybe not. I will still be okay. The action I take is much more likely to be effective if I am acting or speaking from a place of serenity. And with serenity I can begin to let go of the outcome, knowing I have done all I can and that I am powerless over the rest.”

All I can add to these wise words is another saying I’ve picked up along the way: “deal from strength.”  So often in life our actions, and more often reactions, are born out of fear. When Angie robbed me, I was afraid that if I had her arrested she would be scarred forever, when in fact it might have taught her a valuable lesson about consequences. This is an example of enabling at its worst. My fear governed that very poor decision. Now, through the wisdom I have learned in the rooms, I do things differently. I can let go of outcomes and be at peace with myself.

Who Are Our Teachers?

Memoir Excerpt:

My unsent letter to my child:

‘Dear Angie,

Ironic, isn’t it, that you have become my teacher and not the other way around—teacher of life, teacher of love, and beacon of surrender.

I’m so grateful that you were born, even though at times I’ve felt otherwise. God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he? Though you haven’t been in my life long, and not always happily, it’s been your very existence that has propelled me into a serenely spiritual life, even happiness. I never would have done the work necessary to reach this place without your inspiration.

You are my child, my teacher. As I’ve stumbled on this rocky path, my thoughts of you have guided me; they guide me still.

All that I’ve become are gifts from you, my daughter: life lessons, trial by fire. How do I thank you?

By living well—By loving well—Mom’

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’ I cannot change the fact that Angie is an addict, and I cannot ‘wish’ her into recovery. I can only love her. And—this catch-22 has taken me most of my life to learn—I can only love her or anyone else in my life with any integrity, if I love and value and respect and cherish myself first.”

Recovery At Its Best

My former husband, Angel Miguel Rabasa, died last week in Washington, D.C. He had been ill with cancer and, despite surgery and chemotherapy to slow down its progress, he succumbed on 9/26/16, three days before his 68th birthday. I, along with his children and grandchildren, scrambled to get there from the West Coast. But none of us, including his two sisters from Miami, made it in time. He died surrounded by his wife and other loved ones. I have just two things to share regarding the passing of this good man: first, the early years of our marriage were filled with excitement and colorful stories that will keep our grandchildren entertained for years to come; the second thing, and this is such a blessing, is that the storms we have weathered in recent years have brought us closer together and we have become good friends. Such a gift! I am grateful beyond words for the difference this man has made in my life.