From Courage to Change, March 28:
“What happens when I physically hold on tightly to something? I turn my head away. I squeeze my eyes shut. My knuckles ache as my fists clench. Fingernails bite into my palms. I exhaust myself. I hurt!
On the other hand, when I trust God to give me what I need, I let go. I face forward. My hands are freer for healthy, loving, and enjoyable activities. I find unexpected reserves of energy. My eyes open to see fresh opportunities, many of which have been there all along.
Before I complain about my suffering, I might do well to examine myself. I may be surprised by the amount of pain I can release by simply letting go.”
As with most other things in my life, I have a choice. I choose to use the tools at my disposal that have helped me to be a happier, more serene person: gratitude, acceptance, faith. Life is good; it’s all a matter of perspective.
From Courage to Change, March 24:
“When I accept that alcoholism is a disease, I am forced to face the fact that I am powerless over it. Only then can I gain the freedom to focus on my own spiritual growth.
‘A family member has no more right to state, ‘If you loved me then you would not drink,’ than the right to say, ‘If you loved me you would not have tuberculosis…’ Illness is a condition, not an act.”
The NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse) has stated: “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive behaviors.”
The debate continues: is it a disease or a choice? A person who has the disease, before they know it, might try a dangerous drug or alcohol and become hooked. Another person who doesn’t have addictive disease might experiment in the same way; but he can walk away.
Disease just is; you either have it or you don’t. Choice is what the addict decides to do about it: get help or not.
I have two daughters: Angie has been a drug addict for fifteen years; today she chooses to continue in her disease. I have another daughter who has also tried drugs a few times; but she walked away. She chose to live healthfully. Which one of my girls is an addict?
Accepting that addiction is a disease “has given me the freedom to focus on my own spiritual growth.” And the results in my life have been miraculous. God Bless us all who have to struggle with the painful reality of drug addiction!
From Courage To Change, March 22:
“In order to survive in the contradictory and explosive world of alcoholism, many of us learned to ignore our feelings. We lost touch with ourselves without even knowing it.
For example, although I pointed an accusing finger at the alcoholics in my life for deserting me in times of need, I wasn’t a very good friend to myself. In my fear and confusion, I walked away from the little child in me who lived simply, who cried when the cat died and then let it go, who could appreciate a sunset and not want to own it, and who lived one day at a time.
Recovery does not mean that I have to become a different person. It means I need to start being myself again. The lessons I’m learning in Al-Anon are lessons I already know. I just need to remember.
There is an innocence within me that already knows how to trust my Higher Power, to cherish life while holding it lightly, to live fully and simply in the present moment. I will allow that part of myself to come forward and nourish me as I continue on this journey.
‘It takes a long time to become young.’ Pablo Picasso”
It’s taken a long time in recovery for me to let go of my fears and need to control—and trust again. Loosening my grip on everything, letting go of outcomes, trusting that God has a plan and is a lot smarter than I am—these are a few elements of my recovery that have made my life so much simpler. It’s almost like becoming a child again…
If I am overwhelmed, I may be trying to do too much. Today I will try to “keep it simple.” “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
Another reason to let go…
I remember so well my friend tearfully sharing at a meeting last year:
“My son is in two parts. I don’t see him anymore. He’s hidden deep inside.”
And I remember looking up at Heaven and thanking God for the education I’ve received in the rooms of recovery. My daughter abuses hard drugs, and she’s not the same person anymore. Before I learned that addiction was a brain disease, I didn’t understand the complete change in Angie’s personality. It bewildered and frightened me, if only because she became so abusive that I was afraid for my own safety.
So…boundaries…I needed to learn how to set and enforce boundaries, without which none of us can enjoy healthy relationships—with addicts or anyone else.
The education I’ve received through the years while living with the addiction of my daughter Angie has provided me with a healthy perspective that I needed to stay strong and persevere.
And I have. Maybe not perfectly, but I’m still here and I look forward to getting up every morning.
God didn’t create all the misery that we read about in the paper. He didn’t designate me to be the mother of an addict. I haven’t been singled out for this tragedy. His purpose in my life is to help me rise above it. And once my eyes were cleared of the tears blinding me, I was able to see that.
I’m very grateful for my ongoing recovery!
“When Angie was in her first psych ward back in October 2007, they used art therapy on the patients. She made me a bead bracelet. ‘These are your favorite colors, Mom,’ she said, carefully placing it on my wrist. I finger those beads now and again, like Greek worry beads, a reminder of the hope I nurtured then. On one of the nights she stayed at my motel, she was out all night while I tossed and turned, wondering where she was. When I awoke, there was the most fragrant smelling flower in a glass of water at my bedside. She had picked it outside of her hotel in Japan Town and left it for me to enjoy in the morning. I still have what’s left of that flower, all dried and brown, another reminder that ‘Joy & Woe are woven fine.’”
from my award-winning memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero
From Survival to Recovery, p. 25-26:
“Unless recovery is found, blame, guilt, anger, depression, and many other negative attitudes can go on for generations in a family affected by alcoholism…Focusing on ourselves actually allows us to release other people to solve their own problems and frees us to find contentment and even happiness for ourselves.”
We all have different stories of how addiction has touched our lives. In my life, guilt was a constant theme from very early in my childhood, and, as I said in my memoir, “Guilt is a terrible crippler.” It crippled me, especially, when my own child mirrored the addict in me and morphed into a worse and more dysfunctional addict than I ever was. Guilt and self-blame put me at risk in setting and enforcing boundaries, in becoming an enabler, in shielding Angie from the logical consequences of her behavior. In short, guilt kept me from parenting my daughter intelligently and kept me stuck in a hole. Fortunately I found recovery and release from my own guilt, much of it misplaced, which in turn is freeing Angie to live her own life and solve her own problems.
“Fifth Step Prayer:
My inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for Your help
in admitting my wrongs to another person and to You.
Assure me, and be with me, in this Step,
for without this step I cannot progress in my recovery.
With Your help, I can do this and I will do it.”
I’ve stopped the blame game. Admitting my defects to God and another human being has been critical in my recovery. Denial is like a dark cave: we hide there, from ourselves and others, and without any light it’s not easy to see the truth.
I’ve struggled with addictions my whole life, but until I told someone about them, brought them into the light, they weren’t real to me, and I could continue on the merry-go-round of denial.
But when I told someone else, I couldn’t pretend anymore. Sharing with someone else makes me accountable. Admitting our defects to others shines a light on who we really are. Then, and only the, do we have the opportunity, through God’s help and the support of others, to work on our defects and our recovery.
P.S. It’s also kinda necessary to know who we are, and admit who we are, before we can love who we are and accept who we are!