marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Just Love Them

J From Hope for Today, April 1: “Growing up in an alcoholic home gave me ample preparation to become a perfectionist. Almost nothing I did as a youth was ever right. Inside I felt rage at never meeting my parents’ expectations. I promised myself I would do things differently. By the time I reached my thirties, however, I could hear my parents’ critical voices speaking through me. I knew I was using the same words spoken to me.” I could have written that myself. And I’m so grateful for the awareness I’ve picked up from my years of recovery. In the early years of my daughter Angie’s addiction, I was oppressive in my attempts to get her to “buckle under and shape up.” What? Would I use those words if she had cancer or any other disease? I got quite an education in the rooms of recovery, first of all in accepting that drug addiction is a brain disease. The American Medical Association has been saying that since the 1950’s, but who was listening?  With that awareness, there was no room in my heart for judgment  or criticism. Only compassion, understanding, and love. Now, if I have any interaction with Angie, all that I say or do springs from the heart of a mother. I love my child. Some things are beautiful in their...

Who Has The Power?

W From Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope, p. 329: “Myself, I can change. Others I can only love.” Once upon a time I thought, because I loved my daughter, it was my responsibility to change her for her own good. How could I not? Her choices were killing her. Then I learned that she had a brain disease and the cure was out of my reach. Out of my reach. So I learned to let go and detach, but always with love. Serenity is the gift I give myself when I let go and let...

Reflections From Yesterday

From Each Day A New Beginning, January 24: “’I look in the mirror through the eyes of the child that was me.’ ~Judy Collins My Adult Child Judy wrote a wonderful memoir called Sanity and Grace, about losing her son to suicide and almost losing herself to alcoholism. She is an adult child because she grew up with the disease. Her story is similar to my story. And as the mother of an addict, my own history played too heavy a role in how I reacted to my daughter Angie’s illness. I was certain that she got her addiction from me and I felt overly responsible. That put me at risk and caused me to move boundaries over and over. I lost my way as her mother. Fortunately I learned in my recovery that her addiction isn’t my fault. “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.” If we say that often enough and start to believe it—like a mantra— we can let go of any guilt that may be weighing us down. We already have enough heartache to deal...

Bangs

When Angie was in her last rehab in 2009, I flew across the country for Parent’s’ Weekend. After excitedly showing me around the grounds, she bumped into a couple of new friends. “Hey Angela, show us more of those moves.”
 Angie still enjoyed showing people what she had been able to do as a gymnast in Greece. “Sure,” she said, proud of her agility. She showed us, among other things, a backward twist that must have been difficult then. She wasn’t ten anymore. When she leaned backwards toward the floor, her hair fell back and I saw the scar. She must have had an accident when she sustained a deep gash around her hairline in the middle of her forehead. When Angie was a child, she looked like a beautiful mandarin doll. She always had a thick pile of bangs to frame her oval face. But her hair didn’t fall that way anymore because of the scar and she could no longer wear bangs. The last time I saw my daughter was in 2012. She was still using, and since then has cut herself off from her family. But I wanted to see her and stayed in a San Francisco motel very near the hostel in the Tenderloin where she was living. She was to spend a night with me and had a key to the room. It was five in the morning when I heard her unlocking the door, and I jumped up to open it. “Hi Mom.” “Hi honey. I need to get back to sleep.” I have a picture of her sitting on my bed the...

Happy Distractions

From Courage to Change, June 9: “If my problems have brought me to prayer, then they have served a purpose.”   There are so many different ways to pray: walking; meditating; talking to a Higher Power; singing; baking bread; sewing. I view prayer as letting go of myself for the time being and turning my attention to another activity. Turning to something else that calls me, that enriches me. My problems with my AD Angie leveled me to the ground in the beginning. I took it on myself as if that were my calling. And I felt good about myself in the process because I was trying to fix a terrible problem. But what distinguished my behavior from prayer was that it was all about me. Far from turning to someone or something else, my obsession about saving my daughter was grounded in misplaced guilt, feelings of inadequacy, and stubborn will. I was addicted to my daughter. I’m grateful I found a recovery program for parents of addicts that was compassionate and useful. I wasn’t helping myself or my daughter by blaming myself for an illness I didn’t cause. I needed to let go of behaviors toward her that weren’t helping. Though I’m always ready to help Angie when she asks for help, I’ve moved on. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know one thing for certain: I deserve to enjoy what’s left of my life. I don’t want addiction and its wreckage to claim two victims in my immediate family.      ...

Fear vs. Faith

From Each Day A New Beginning, September 27: “’The wisdom of all ages and cultures emphasizes the tremendous power our thoughts have over our character and circumstances.’  ~Liane Cordes We are gifted with the personal power to make thoughtful choices…Our minds work powerfully for our good. And just as powerfully to our detriment, when fears intrude on all our thoughts…My outlook and attitude toward life reveals the strength of my connection to God.”   I’ve read that fear and anxiety are at the base of many addictions. I can’t speak for all of them, or for everyone, but I can speak for myself. Fear precipitated every single addiction I’ve been subject to. And it was fear that kept me addicted to my daughter Angie. Fear for her well-being—and for mine. Letting go of my obsession and fear—replacing them both with faith—has brought peace into my...