marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

The Good Daughter

“Angie was a good daughter. But please, beware of the complacency in those words.  Clearly, she hid her pain very well. Clearly, much was lurking beneath the surface that I did not see. And if I ache with the vacant promise of all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” it’s because I know that even if I had known what was coming down the road, I couldn’t have stopped it.” ~Maggie C. Romero, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here...

Expectations

In recovery, we learn to profoundly adjust our expectations, hard as it is. We raised one child, and now we have another. We are all too aware of the change that drugs have produced in our children. A parent wrote in Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope (the SESH book) a very revealing statement, something I could have written myself. It is a key to understanding my story, my mother and father’s stories, and my daughter’s painful struggle: “I expected my children to be perfect, to always do the right thing. I tried to control them by giving them direction and making them do things in a way that I felt was correct! When they didn’t, I could not handle it. I could not accept their drug use and I felt that their behavior was a reflection on me. I was embarrassed for myself and scared to death for them. I became so distrusting of my children that I showed them no respect. I would meddle and invade their privacy looking for any excuse to challenge and confront them. When I came to Nar-Anon, I learned that my interference and my attempts at controlling them were actually standing in the way of their recovery. I learned to let go of the control I never had in the first place.”   Those words echo my own from a recent blog: “I would finally, thank God, let go of the oppressive burden I was placing on my daughter by demanding she get well so that I could be OK.” This is a difficult statement for many of us to make. Angie’s active...

The Healing Power Of Writing

My friend from Virginia writes me that he took my book to his son who is serving a six-month sentence in jail. Justin was so moved by the book that he has decided to write his own story.  I am happy to have been a source of inspiration for him, because just the act of writing my story was healing for me. Likewise, it could prove to be the catharsis Justin needs to finally face his demons and walk away from drugs. David Sheff’s (Beautiful Boy, Clean) son, Nick, wrote his own gripping tale, Tweak, and it was very successful. We all have a story to tell. And even though we’re not all famous authors, our stories  have value to those of us walking down the painful road of addiction. I hope Justin and many other addicts out there write down what’s in their heart. More of us need to get these stories into bookstores. The shame and stigma of addiction will fade in time if we all come out of the shadows and tell our...

En”light”enment

Ernest Hemingway famously said: “We are all broken; that’s how the light gets in.” This speaks to me, and to many of us. In my search to be free of my emotional pain, I have found en”light”enment in a recovery program with tools to help me live better. It hasn’t been an overnight cure for my misery. I will always mourn the loss of my daughter Angie to this cruel disease. But, over time, I’ve learned to let go of some bad habits that weren’t serving me anymore—and contributed to me serving her even less. What didn’t serve me? Guilt. Untreated, that led to enabling, which served her not at all. Working this miraculous program has helped me see that I’m just another child of God—and that I’m worth something. My years in various 12-Step fellowships have saved my life. Back in 2001 when a school counselor told me to go to an Al-Anon meeting, I told her, “No, that’s not for me.” Yes, it...

Surround Yourself With Love—And Not Just On Valentine’s Day!

My recovery work over the years has brought me out of isolation and pushed me into the circle of love in this picture. I have learned many things in my recovery program, but the most important has been placing a greater value on my worth, my needs and my wants. Learning to set boundaries is another way to take care of myself, letting others know what is and what isn’t acceptable to me. This tool has made my relationships healthier. Without a daily practice of self-care, what shape am I in to interact with those around me? “Progress, not perfection,” to be sure, and we all have bad days. But I’m grateful to have found a sound guide for living in my recovery program. It doesn’t take away the pain of struggling with my daughter throughout her addiction. But it does offer coping strategies that encourage me to focus on what I can control in my life. No longer drained from fighting a battle I can’t win, I feel energized to move on and celebrate the blessings God has given me. It’s all a matter of perspective. Attitude is...