Spiritual Empowerment

I love my recovery program because it makes me aware of my choices. I’m not on automatic pilot anymore, and I don’t have to react to situations the way I used to. As I start to take better control of my life, I become an actor, and I can write more of my own story.

The past is over; the future hasn’t happened yet. But I have today—and today I choose to live well.

Surrender Is Not Submission


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…’ ~Maya Angelou

We had to surrender to a power greater than ourselves to get to 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…And when we choose to surrender our attempts to control, we will find peace…”

I often write about the pain of resistance. How the very word carries an aura of courage and strength. Those of us who have addicted loved ones would do anything, it seems, to save them from from such a miserable life. I spent a number of years trying to save Angie—resisting—and refusing to allow her the dignity of her own (poor)  choices. I felt courageous then, determined. I couldn’t surrender to the power of addiction; I thought it would be cowardly.

But I tried and failed to save Angie. She’s been in and out of recovery for fifteen years. And though I pray she reaches for recovery again and comes back to her family, I can’t make that choice for her. She can only save herself. And I truly believe that the addicts who recover do so because it is their own desire to get their lives back—not someone else’s.

So I’ve learned that I can only save myself. When I give up the struggle to change things I can’t control, my life is more peaceful. I find the energy to focus on gratitude for what’s good in my life.

Sometimes letting go—not resistance—takes courage.

“Let Go And Let God”

“In Al-Anon, letting go and letting God means exchanging the finite, narrow limitations of our own self-will for the infinite wisdom of our Higher Power. We turn our lives over to the Higher Power’s care, confident that in God’s time, solutions to our problems and relief from our pain will come to us.

The lily symbolized this slogan and was inspired by the biblical passage that tells us:

‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’

By making the Twelve Steps a part of our lives, learning to trust God’s will, and practicing program principles in all our affairs, we continually renew our faith and achieve our own special beauty as our serenity grows.”

My life is so much simpler when I let go of things and people I can’t control and turn the struggle over. What had been weighing me down is lifted from my shoulders and I feel lighter, more at peace. This frees me to live my life better, unencumbered by negative thoughts for which I have no solutions.

Life can still be good for us; it’s all a matter of perspective.

The Wolf You Feed

“I am sometimes at odds with my recovery groups about the nature of addiction: is it a disease or a choice? I don’t want to force my views on them. There’s a wonderful Cherokee tale told by a grandfather to his grandchildren:

‘There’s a battle inside all of us between two wolves. One wolf is jealousy, greed, dishonesty, hatred, anger and bitterness. The other wolf is love, generosity, truthfulness, selflessness, and gratitude.’

‘Who wins the battle, grandfather?’

‘The wolf you feed.’

Insist that our loved ones are choosing to be addicts, that they want to stick a needle in their arm and live in a gutter, and we feel justified in our anger and our bitterness. Keep feeding those feelings, and they will consume you. I choose to believe that my daughter is wired differently and is prone to addictive disease. That’s no surprise, since four generations in my family have all had addictive disease in varying degrees.  For whatever reason we still are unsure of, whatever life stresses beckoned her into that dark place, she became a victim of addiction.” ~excerpt from my award-winning memoir A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (available on Amazon)

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has said: “I’ve studied alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and more recently obesity. There’s a pattern in compulsion. I’ve never come across a single person that was addicted that wanted to be addicted. Something has happened in their brains that has led to that process.”

Serenity Every Day

From Hope for Today, November 12:

“Serenity? What is that? For years I was like a weather vane that spun around according to the air currents that other people generated… I attributed these mood swings to nervousness, lack of assurance, and whoever else occupied the room at the time. Serenity always seemed beyond my control… Where does this serenity come from? It comes from trusting that everything in my life is exactly as it should be… It comes when I choose to care for myself rather than to fix someone else…

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: I am powerless over many things, but my serenity is not one of them.”

Trust. That’s a hard one for many of us. I am an adult child, and being able to trust anyone has been difficult. So I became very controlling, trying to manipulate events to suit me. I had no faith that things were happening as they were meant to. I was always forcing outcomes.

But eventually that behavior took a terrible toll on me and my most important relationships. I was far too dependent on others and what was going on in their lives. This weather vane was spinning out of control. I needed to find a way to center myself.

I’ve learned to recognize situations in my life that I have no control over. And I’ve learned to let go of them and the people attached to them. My life is much simpler when I “stay in my own hula hoop” and concentrate on making my own life better. It’s the only thing I have the power to control.

Joyfulness and serenity are the gifts of my recovery. We can all reach for them, and the rewards are amazing!

The Courage To Change

From the blue Nar-Anon pamphlet: “Changing Ourselves”

“Addiction is like a chain reaction. It is a disease which affects the addict as well as the family members, friends and co-workers. We try to control, cover up, and take on the responsibilities of the addict. The sickness spreads to those of us who care the most. Eventually we begin to feel used and unhappy. We worry, lose trust and become angry. The addict blames us and we feel guilty. If only something or someone would change!

When we discover Nar-Anon, we find others with the same feelings and problems. We learn we cannot control the addict or change him. We have become so addicted to the addict that it is difficult to shift the focus back to ourselves. We find that we must let go and turn to faith in a Higher Power. By working the steps, following the traditions and using the tools of the program, we begin, with the love and help of our Higher Power and others, to change ourselves.

As we reach out for help, we become ready to reach out a helping hand and heart to those in need of Nar-Anon. We understand. We do recover. Slowly, new persons emerge. Change is taking place.”

Though I have changed and grown through my work in the program, I still love my daughter and am available to help her if she reaches out to me for help. The difference is that I am a healthier person now and am able to make the tough choices I couldn’t make years ago. I pray she finds the strength to come back to her family. We can’t get back the lost years, but I still have hope, like the warm summer sun shining on me, and keeping my love strong.

An Invitation To Joy


From Each Day A New Beginning, June 28:

“‘Joy fixes us to eternity and pain fixes us to time. But desire and fear hold us in bondage to time, and detachment breaks the bond.’ ~Simone Weil

…”We are on a trip in this life. And our journey is bringing us closer to full understanding of joy with every sorrowful circumstance. When you or I are one with God, have aligned our will with the will of God, we know joy. We know this, fully, that all is well. No harm can befall us.

Each circumstance in the material realm is an opportunity for us to rely on the spiritual realm for direction, security, understanding. As we turn within, to our spiritual nature, we will know joy.”

I have been growing in my spiritual recovery for fifteen years, and it has been the key to learning to live with my daughter Angie in the grips of heroin addiction. Those of us who love an addict know the pain and frustration involved. We know how addiction destroys far more than the addict; it destroys whole families and, often, we who love them. It almost destroyed me.

But I have been incredibly blessed with some well-meaning interventions over the years, the first from a school counselor who told me to go to Al-Anon to help me deal with Angie’s drug addiction. My work in several twelve-step fellowships has given me the tools to adjust my thinking and change my attitude about a lot of things.

The most important change in my perspective is my habit of gratitude. The best antidote to my grief around losing my daughter is focusing on all the good things in my life, my other children and grandchildren, good health, etc. We all have something to be thankful for.

When I turn my thoughts away from my losses, when I “detach” from Angie, I feel a lightness around my shoulders, and I’m able to live joyfully. I wish that for all my friends here. God Bless!