marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Operating From A Place Of Love…

From the National Institute on Drug Abuse: “Is Drug abuse a voluntary behavior? The initial decision to take drugs is mostly voluntary. However, when addiction takes over, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired. Brain-imaging studies from drug-addicted individuals show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of an addicted person.”   In the recovery rooms, I became educated about drug addiction. I learned that it is a brain disease. This education changed my attitude toward my addict and toward myself. And this changed attitude changed and improved my behavior. There is no room for judgment in my life: judgment toward me for being “a bad parent;” judgment toward my daughter Angie for using drugs. I feel only love and compassion for all addicts who suffer and for all who love them. I’m powerless over other people, places and things. But I can take charge of my own life. I focus on gratitude and all my blessings. I try to live well. I believe Angie would want me to. This is how I honor and love her....

The Power Of Speaking

  Deborah Meier said in her book, The Power of Their Ideas, “Teaching is mostly listening, and learning is mostly telling.” I love this because as a former teacher I used to have it turned all around. I got better, fortunately, but then I retired. Now I’m an author and what I’ve learned about myself by writing has filled one book and is about to fill another. I speak a lot, telling my story, mostly at recovery meetings. And when I’m not speaking to other people, I’m speaking to a piece of paper—many pieces of paper. It’s my therapy. It’s how I learn about myself. It’s a constant practice of self-discovery, this discipline of pen to paper. I cross out, revise, change my mind, rephrase things. All this writing and rewriting helps me clarify my thoughts, my understanding of what’s real to me: what’s authentic. It’s how I learn about myself. How I’m learning. Continually. It’s an ongoing process. I find that as I keep growing and changing my writing reflects that as well. There’s nothing static about me or about my writing. And just as the words flow out of my pen onto paper, my recovery continues to flow from my heart to those around me. It’s a real symbiosis, this relationship I have with my pen. It eases the words out of me so that I can share what I’ve learned with others. The rare epiphany I experience is like a volcanic eruption. I had one recently, and writing and rewriting about that has taught me so much about its meaning. But mostly I’m just going with...

Another Perspective

“A Open Letter to My Family (from the drug addict) I am a drug user. I need help. Don’t solve my problems for me. This only makes me lose respect for you. Don’t lecture, moralize, scold, blame, or argue, whether I’m loaded or sober. It may make you feel better, but it will make the situation worse. Don’t accept my promises. The nature of my illness prevents my keeping them, even though I mean them at the time. Promising is only my way of postponing pain. Don’t keep switching agreements; if an agreement is made, stick to it. Don’t lose your temper with me. It will destroy you and any possibility of helping me. Don’t allow your anxiety for me to make you do what I should do for myself. Don’t cover up or spare me the consequences of my using. It may reduce the crisis, but it will make my illness worse. Above all, don’t run away from reality as I do.Drug dependence, my illness, gets worse as my using continues. Start now to learn, to understand, to plan for recovery. Find NAR-ANON, whose groups exist to help the families of drug abusers. I need help: from a doctor, a psychologist, a counselor, from an addict who found recovery in NA, and from God. Your User”   Enmeshment can be crippling: we don’t have enough emotional distance, often, to deal intelligently and effectively with the addict. Stepping back, detaching, takes discipline and restraint. Such a hard thing to do when we’re in this emotional minefield. It has taken me years in my recovery program to act more and...

“Deal From Strength”

  “Nar-Anon Do’s and Don’ts: Do note the effect the user has on each member of the family… Do always encourage attempts to seek help. Do remember to see the good in others and yourself. Don’t accept guilt for another person’s acts. Don’t nag, argue, lecture or recall past mistakes. Don’t overprotect, cover up or rescue from the consequences. Don’t neglect yourself or be a doormat. Don’t forget that addiction is a disease, not a moral issue.. Do allow other people to accept their own responsibilities. Don’t manipulate or make idle threats. Do involve yourself with the activities of Nar-Anon. Do learn to be open and honest. Don’t yearn for perfection in yourself or others. Do grow day by day, by reading Nar-Anon literature. Do remember to focus on your OWN reactions and attitudes. Don’t overlook the growth opportunities of a crisis. Don’t underestimate the importance of release with love (commonly called detachment with love). Do please try to manage your anxieties with love. Don’t start the recovery program with the user. Start with the family at Nar-Anon, meeting and learning the difference between destructive and constructive...

If We Only Had A Crystal Ball…

My daughter, Angie, got through childhood and adolescence very well, and not unlike many other young people. But there were signs of the coming storm. Here’s an early excerpt from my award-winning recovery memoir: “If I was surprised by my daughter’s drug addiction in 2001, it’s because she appeared so functional and went out of her way to hide herself from me.  Later on once her addiction had taken hold of her, I would be incredulous at the dysfunctional behavior I was seeing. It’s as though she had become possessed. She had problems, but I thought I was helping her deal with them responsibly. There were no visible red flags. She didn’t stay in bed every day and pull the covers over her head. She diligently saw her therapist every week, facing every day with discipline and good humor. She never missed her classes and she never quit her jobs. Her grades were excellent. Maybe—and this is important to recognize now—this was the beginning of the denial that would hamper me throughout Angie’s addiction, preventing me from dealing with her illness intelligently and effectively. 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.”  ~from A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym), available on...