marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

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...

Nuts: Not.Using.The.Steps.

N “When I read a step and think about it deeply, I find it opens the door to new insights. When I read that same step again, it reveals new spiritual ideas. They seem to dig into our consciousness and unearth for us the wonderful potential for good in all our relationships with life.” ~One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, pg.141 I’ve heard it said that Al-Anon offers answers to heal many troubled relationships. Those of us in the recovery program share many of the same qualities: being affected by another person’s addiction. So how have I been affected? By having a strong desire to control those around me. Growing up in emotional chaos, I needed to maintain the illusion of control to survive. But carrying that desire with me into adulthood too often became a defect. Examining my motives in some situations has helped me let go of the powerful need I had to be in charge. I’ve learned to let go of things that are not mine to hold onto. Just loosen them in my hands as though they were the reins on my horse. And keep moving...

Our Footprints

From Each Day A New Beginning, December 20: “’Somewhere along the line of development we discover what we really are, and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible. Make that decision primarily for yourself because you can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your own child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you become yourself.’ ~Eleanor Roosevelt” Through my recovery work, I’m learning to take better care of myself. I’m making wiser choices, living better, and embracing my life. Firm boundaries, healthy perspectives, daily gratitude are just a few of the tools that help me live well. In this way I’m trying to be a good example to those who come after me. We all leave footprints somewhere. We have stories to tell. We all leave a...

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...

“Look Back Without Staring”

From Hope for Today, September 13: “Never underestimate the power of self-awareness to put past experience into a new perspective…Until we take the time to look at ourselves honestly. we may never be free of the bondage in which alcoholism holds us captive.” As the mother of an addict, I was focused completely on my daughter Angie and her problems. In the beginning of her addiction, I failed to see that how I handled the chaos in my home might have more to do with me than with her. I didn’t realize what a powder keg my past was bringing to an already explosive situation. My own history of substance abuse played a big role in my reactions. Whoever said “Blame is for God and small children” forgot about me. I thought Angie’s illness was my fault. I burdened myself with guilt and an inflated sense of responsibility, and that burden crippled me when dealing with the consequences of her bad choices. I often lost my own moral compass, the one I raised her to follow. That guilt put at risk all the healthy boundaries I had set in place with all of my children. I became lost. Much of my behavior was a misguided attempt to protect my daughter. I became overprotective, and shielded her from the logical consequences of many choices that might have taught her some valuable life lessons. I did step up and put her through four rehabs. I was happy to do that and so hopeful. But after she got out and relapsed every time, I fell back into old patterns. I didn’t see...

Taking Care Of Ourselves

From Courage to Change, July 12: “If you would be loved, love, and be lovable.” ~Benjamin Franklin   For much of my life, I didn’t take good care of myself. I was often focused on how other people felt about me, and, chameleon-like, I adapted my behavior to please them. After years of this, I lost touch with who I was or what I really wanted. I’ve gotten much better at doing what’s best for me, but I still have slips now and then. I went off the rails spectacularly last summer, putting other people’s desires ahead of my own. But I’m grateful to have a recovery program that got me back on track. “Progress, not perfection.” In the first years of my daughter’s drug addiction, I lost my compass a great deal. I often put Angie first—at great cost to myself. In my case, it backfired. I’m less concerned with being lovable than with loving these days. And loving sometimes involves hard choices. Ironically, putting myself first is the healthiest ground for love to flourish. And if I’m lovable as a result, that’s icing on the cake.        ...