marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Addicted To Our Addict

Hands up! Who’s guilty? ME! Other people’s drama is a great distraction, sometimes, from our own problems. But when it came to Angie’s continuous drama and crises, it almost became an addiction for me, and I couldn’t walk away. Not until I was so exhausted by it—and convinced that my involvement was helping no one—was I able to say “Enough” and walk away from the storm. At a meeting a few years ago, a member said that when his daughter was actively using and threatening his well being in any number of ways,  he envisioned himself on a life raft floating at a safe distance from her. Seeing her paddling toward them in a canoe, his wife yelled, “Paddle faster. She’s packing a chainsaw!” Not everyone has so much drama and/or danger from the addict in their life. But some of us do; some of us need to protect ourselves from the stranger we don’t recognize anymore. And for those of us who need to detach (with love) and walk away, it is an important act of  self-affirmation and love. When we take care of ourselves, we remain strong for the others in our life—and even for our addict—if the day we pray for comes and he/she finds recovery—and comes out of the...

My Glass Is Half Full

From Hope For Today, January 23: “One of the gifts I have received from Al-Anon is learning how to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Before the program I didn’t really understand the true nature of gratitude. I thought it was the happiness I felt when life happened according to my needs and wants. I thought it was the high I felt when my desire for instant gratification was fulfilled. Today…I know better. Gratitude is an integral part of my serenity. In fact, it is usually the means of restoring my serenity whenever I notice I’m straying from it. Gratitude opens the doors of my heart to the healing touch of my Higher Power. It isn’t always easy to feel grateful when the strident voice of my disease demands unhealthy behavior. However, when I work my program harder, it is possible. ‘Just for today I will smile…I will be grateful for what I have instead of concentrating on what I don’t have.’” Accepting life on life’s terms is hard. My daughter has been a drug addict for fifteen years, and I grieve the loss of her in my life every day. The five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—I know them all, and not always in that order. My path to recovery involved a lot of denial in the beginning and, as it said in the reading, “the voice of my disease demanded unhealthy behavior.” So I’m grateful now for the serenity and peace that I have in my life. Acceptance is the gift I give myself every day when I let go and give Angie to...

Writing A Healing Memoir

My memoir about my daughter is a graphically honest portrayal of addiction at its worst. And Angie is still alive, so I was a little fearful of publicity and pictures. But not anymore. Many readers have asked me “What would you do if Angie saw this book someday? Wouldn’t you be horrified?” My answer is this: “No, not at all. The book is not a condemnation of Angie. It is a celebration of life and love.” In the Introduction, I showcase Angie as she was before addiction corrupted her. She was a beautiful child, young woman, a talented gymnast, writer, artist, and college graduate. And most of all she was a loving and thoughtful daughter to her father and me. The rest of the book is a portrait of the horrors of addiction and what it does to a young woman with her whole life ahead of her. Once addiction took over, this person was no longer my daughter Angie. And I make that clear in the final chapters, how parents must learn to separate their children from the addicts they become in order to keep loving them and deal effectively with this cruel...

Love And Loss

Angie made this gift for me when she got out of her first rehab in 2002. I treasure it—ever a reminder that beauty is often born out of loss. My daughter was a gifted visual artist as well. I keep her renderings all around me because I like to remember what promise she had. This reinforces my certainty that addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing. If she had not succumbed to the living death of heroin addiction, I feel sure that she would living her life along with her siblings, probably doing more creative things.   Addiction is a tragedy for all families. But we can try to celebrate what was good about our addict’s lives before they got sick. I’m grateful for the years I’ve had with Angie.                      ...

Freedom From the Bondage Of Self

From Each Day A New Beginning, January 6: “Wanting to control other people, to make them live as we’d have them live, makes the attainment of serenity impossible. And serenity is the goal we are seeking in this serenity program. In this life. We are each powerless over others, which relieves us of a great burden. Controlling our own behavior is a big enough job…” When I took the Third Step, and turned my concerns about Angie over to the God of my understanding, I felt a freedom that I’d never felt before. I stopped trying to control everything so much, stopped trying to play God when that’s not my job. With this freedom comes the faith that things are unfolding as they are meant to, without any help from me. Acceptance of life on life’s terms gives me peace—and the energy to open my eyes and keep...