marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Disease Or Choice?

I received these emails over a year ago: “I am sick of hearing addiction is a disease! It is a choice! I have been clean/sober for over 20 years. I made a choice! I chose to put a needle in my arm. I chose to get drunk because I could not handle what life gave me. Then I chose to get clean and stay clean. Life is all about choices.” And another: “Addiction is a disease. Recovery is a choice.” I’ve entered into this debate many times, and I use this situation as an illustration: A bunch of kids are at a party and heroin is offered. One kid experiments with it and can’t let it go. He gets hooked, looks around to get it, keeps taking it for the feeling it produces. He becomes addicted to it. Another kid at the same party does the same thing, even likes how he feels when he takes it, but is able to heed the warnings he hears and makes a choice to walk away from it, never tries it again. The first kid may have the addiction gene in him already and taking heroin just activated it. He didn’t choose to be an addict. He just was. But he still has a choice about recovering from his addiction. The second kid doesn’t have the inclination toward addiction. That’s why it was easy to say no to it and walk away from heroin. Both of these women who emailed me are right. I just think we all get bogged down in semantics.   On a more personal level, I see the...

Happiness, Too, Is A Choice

From Each Day Is A New Beginning, September 20: “’What difference does it make how I’m treated by life? My real life is within.’ Angela Wozniak It is said that we teach people how to treat us. How we treat others invites similar treatment. Our response to the external conditions of our lives can be greatly altered by our perceptions of those conditions. And we have control of that perception…” “Perception,” how we see things, attitude… We who live in and around addiction and its cruelty are spun around day in and day out by the effects of it. Whether we are watching a child slowly commit suicide in the throes of heroin addiction as I am; or enjoying the recovery of a loved one. It’s still there: the elephant in the living room. And more and more, thank God, we are able to talk about it. Our story was on 60 Minutes last week. No more shame; no more silence. But how are we doing on our own, when no one is around, when we stare back at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves if we can ever be happy again? That’s when I go within, to the spiritual life I’ve learned in my recovery program. That’s when I remind myself that I have a roof over my head, plenty of food to eat, and lots of people in my life to love. But there’s more: that’s when I remind myself that the more service I am to others the more goodness will come back to me tenfold. That’s when I remind myself that life is an...

Acceptance

Faith and acceptance go hand in hand. There IS a reason for things that happen and, though we may not understand it right now, “all will be revealed” in time. Life is simpler for me when I have faith that things are unfolding as they are meant to. When I give up resisting and let go of that pain. When I turn it over. I surrender to a greater...

Seasonal Prompts

I love observing the seasons and the months they represent. They are the embodiment of the natural flow of life—and a constant reminder of change and renewal. I was a high school teacher for twenty years. Summers were times for me to breathe, relax, and get off the treadmill. Then in August the anxiety and excitement would build, as I felt hungry to return to school and start using my skills in the classroom again. Just as our lives change and new routines replace old ones, our feelings about the months of the year change as well. Bright red chili festivals have replaced pumpkin cutting in the classroom for me. Life is never static, and I do well to remain open to new opportunities as they present themselves.  Change is good. Change is very, very good. Now, some months are times of remembrance. I’ve been retired for nearly a decade, and August/September has a new meaning for me. August 16 is the birthday of my mother, who died eight years ago. And August 23 is the birthday of my estranged daughter, Annie. But now I celebrate my granddaughter Emily’s birthday on August 9 by going to Seattle to see her. I never miss either of my granddaughters’ birthdays. In focusing on my blessings, I feel a sense of abundance every day. September/October start to herald in autumn for me. In Albuquerque the leaves change color from the frosty night air. This is a welcome change from the oppressive heat of the summer. But here the leaves turn yellow, not the reds I used to see in New England. In...

Spiritual Empowerment

From Hope For Today, April 15: “…Before I seriously practiced meditation and prayer with Step Eleven, asking only for knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out, detaching was an exercise in futility. Today detachment is different for me. It’s an opportunity to make a choice. I can focus on the problem, or I can attach to my Higher Power and see what is before me with rest, new eyes and thoughts. I am learning to detach from old reactions that interfere with my serenity, old fears that feed into expectations and judgments, and the part of me that diverts me from my primary spiritual aim…”   I’m very grateful to be able to make the choices I make today. I’ve changed. I make decisions that support my living well—with gratitude, peace, and joy. As I said on Tuesday, it’s all a matter of perspective. Today I choose the serenity that comes from detaching from the problem and attaching to the solution. I’m happier when I live in the solution. I can say with a full heart that life is good.    ...