marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

The Boomerang Of Enabling

A few years ago in one of my support groups in New Mexico, a friend shared how she had to lock everything up in her house. She’d lock the jewelry here, the silver there. She had a different key for every place, and one time she was so flummoxed by her son that she lost all the keys! We laughed together at that one, grateful that we still could laugh. This is what it comes to for many of us parents. We erect walls to protect ourselves, keeping the addicts out. And then, of course, we feel guilty about doing that. My daughter Angie used to steal valuables from my home in order to sell them for drug money. It was safer, she thought, to steal from me than from a store. She already knew what an enabler I was; but she was still a thief. And even though her addiction pushed her onto the wrong path, she still should have paid the consequences if she was going to learn and mature. But I let her get away with it.  I deeply regret that. They will work us, manipulate us, and use every tool in their arsenal to get what they want if they’re still using. Parents are so vulnerable, and they’re walking a fine line between helping their child recover, and enabling them to continue using. We learn eventually to sit frozen in inaction, to do nothing.  We learn to let our addicts be accountable for their own actions, and hopefully learn from the consequences: eviction, jail, or death. But it’s that last consequence that holds us hostage,...

Lighten Up! Do We Still Know How To Laugh?

  From Courage to Change, March 13: “I’m apt to think of Step Seven—‘Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings’–as a step I take tearfully and on my knees. I’ve had that experience, but I want to entertain the possibility that Step Seven might be taken with joy—and even humor. Sometimes the sign that I have actually gotten humble enough to ask my Higher Power to remove a shortcoming is that I can laugh about it. Suddenly a past action or decision of mine seems ludicrous and I can stop taking myself so seriously… So the next time I want to tear my hair out because I haven’t gotten rid of some nagging shortcoming, I’ll try to lighten up and see how silly my intensity can be… Desperation and pain can certainly lead me to humility, but in Al-Anon I’m cultivating a new and eager willingness to follow my Higher Power’s guidance. Because I am willing, I’m freer to learn from all of life’s lessons, not just the ones that hurt.” How did I ever get here? When I began my recovery journey I was in so much pain I couldn’t see through the river of salty tears I was drowning in. I was consumed with sadness, alternately watching Angie slowly self-destruct and determining to save her from herself. We all know that unhappy place, and we pray to be released from our sorrow. I’m one of the lucky ones; I stuck around long enough to learn how to laugh again. “whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not…” I’m not angry at God anymore and I accept His...

Taking Care Of Ourselves

Wisdom From The Rooms: “In Al-Anon we learn how to exchange a wishbone for a backbone.” Setting and enforcing boundaries with our loved ones is difficult, and can seem harsh at times. But many of us see all too clearly the effects of drug use on our loved ones: the loss of their moral compass which can lead to lying, stealing, verbal abuse and worse, all as a result of flooding their brains with dangerous chemicals. It can become a matter of our survival to stay strong and take care of ourselves, even when that means making excruciating choices. At the end of the day, we owe it to everyone else in our lives to survive and try to live well. Then, God willing, if the addict needs us to walk through recovery with him/her, we’ll be strong enough to do...

Chasing The Butterfly

From Each Day A New Beginning, July 19: ‘At fifteen, life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.’—Maya Angelou “We had to surrender to a power greater than ourselves to get where we are today. And each day, we have to turn to that power for strength and guidance. For us, resistance means struggle—struggle with others as well as an internal struggle. Serenity isn’t compatible with struggle. We cannot control forces outside of ourselves. We cannot control the actions of our family or our co-workers. We can control our responses to them. And when we choose to surrender our attempts to control, we will find peace and serenity. That which we abhor, that which we fear, that which we wish to conquer seems suddenly to be gone when we decide to resist no more—to tackle it no more. The realities of life come to us in mysterious ways. We fight so hard, only to learn that what we need will never be ours until the struggle is forsaken. Surrender brings enlightenment.” Thank you, Amazon customer, for this wonderful review of my book, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym): “One of the most honest and insightful accounts to date of a mother’s struggle to win the battle over her daughter’s addiction. Told in unsparing detail, it takes us step by step through the dark tunnel of despair with all the triumphs and mistakes on the road to recovery. It is an inward journey that reveals three important concepts: understanding the...