marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Making It Real

Step Five: Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.   This is an honest program, and I recognize that I’ve been lying to myself and others my whole life. Shame, stigma, embarrassment were just a few of my rationales. But the lies kept my addictions going. I didn’t have to face them if I didn’t acknowledge them. Telling someone else was the game changer for me. Other people became the mirrors I needed for valuable feedback. And telling other people made it all real. I could no longer hide in the shadows with my defects. Bringing them out in the open with witnesses gives us a chance to deal with our defects more honestly and effectively. Freeing myself of some of my defects is critical to my growth and recovery in the program. My defects were roadblocks for me and contributed to my drinking. I’m glad I’ve come out of isolation and faced myself. Day by day, I’m healing and getting better.  ...

Voices Of Recovery

From Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, p. 3 “Alcoholism robbed me of who I was, caused injury to my daughter, and almost completely destroyed my best friend. It took bits and pieces of us all during those first six years. Those were tremendous losses that took a long time to work through. My grief was immense. I felt inconsolable.” That is exactly how I felt when I entered the rooms of recovery. I was broken and at the same time I was crippled with guilt. That put me at high risk for enforcing the boundaries I should have been recognizing. I was completely lost and overwhelmed with the reality of Angie becoming a drug addict. In the beginning I couldn’t be tough with her; I simply defaulted to rescue mode. I wanted to protect her, but in so doing I was shielding her from the natural consequences of her bad choices. So she learned nothing and the behaviors continued. Like it said in the quote, the disease robbed me of who I was. Once upon a time, I was a more responsible parent. But this frightening disease caused me to lose my compass and I lost my way. Fortunately, over the years I listened to the voices of recovery around me and I started changing my behavior. My sense of right and wrong returned and I was able to set boundaries in order to protect myself. As we all know, when an addict is using there is great potential for abuse. I had to be armed, all the while loving my daughter deeply. There’s nothing harder than watching...

Changed Attitudes

  “I am the adult child of two alcoholics. Before I came into Al-Anon, I had no dreams or hope. I saw my life through my husband’s drinking. I had heard about Al-Anon, but couldn’t conceive how it could help me. As long as my husband was still drinking and had no intentions of stopping, how could going to meetings and focusing on myself make a difference in my life? My existence felt like an out-of-control whirlwind that nothing could stop… Without Al-Anon I would be on a dead-end road. Instead, my path is one of belief in the gift of recovery.” From Hope for Today, August 31:   Substitute “my husband’s drinking” for my daughter Angie’s drug problem and that’s my story. I was so joined at the hip with my child that I couldn’t separate my life from hers. Hers was chaos, so mine was too. As her parent, I felt overly responsible for her problems, and I took on too much. It helped her not at all when I shielded her from accountability and took on the blame myself. I needed to find some relief. My recovery program has given me some tools to manage my life better. I’ve learned to detach with love, I’ve let go of my guilt, stopped enabling, and I’ve learned to have faith in someone other than myself. Though I thought I did at first, I did not know what was best. Being in the rooms was a complete education for me and I learned how to cope with Angie’s addiction more effectively. When I was willing to face the fact...

Lessons From Nature

“Take rest; a field that is rested gives a beautiful crop.” ~Ovid I was blindsided by my daughter’s drug addiction. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was. So I went into high gear from the beginning in an effort to save her. I did what many parents do. We all do what we can because we love our children and we want them to be okay. But I exhausted myself and I crashed hard. I had to make some serious changes in my life in order to survive the strain of being an addict’s mom. With much gratitude I embrace my recovery program now. In the rooms I have learned so many things: to let go of my guilt; to accept that addiction in a loved one isn’t my fault; to detach with love; to cease obsessing about my addict and focus more on myself, changing my attitudes, and making my life better; taking care of myself; resting my mind and my body. There’s a lot of peace from accepting what I can’t change, as much as that hurts. I’ve stopped wearing myself out trying to convince Angie to reenter recovery from her addiction. Only she can make that decision; I accept that now without resistance and recognize my powerlessness. Life is unfolding as it was meant to. I believe things happen for a reason, and I hold onto that faith....

DETACH: Don’t.Even.Think.About.Changing.Him/Her.

“How can I best help the alcoholic? By not interfering when he gets into difficulties. I must detach myself from his shortcomings, neither making up for them nor criticizing them. Let me learn to play my own role, and leave his to him. If he fails in it, the failure is not mine, no matter what others may think or say about it.” One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, pg.29) For mothers of addicts, detachment is one of the hardest tools to use. We are inevitably joined through years of raising, nurturing and loving our children as best we could. And when things go so horribly wrong as they do with drug addiction, it’s only natural to question ourselves and how we raised them. Self-blame is common, as we take on too much responsibility for our child’s illness. I myself overcompensated where I shouldn’t have. I felt guilty and that guilt crippled my judgment. I became an enabler, and that prevented Angie from learning from the consequences of her (drug-induced) behavior. Thankfully, I’ve had years of recovery work to learn how to detach from the pain of watching my daughter self-destruct. I did send her to several rehabs and hoped that a sound upbringing and family love would turn her life around. But ultimately the choice to recover (or not) is hers alone. I wish I had the power to change her. I wish things were different. But I have two other children who were raised the same way, and they are blessings in my life. I’ve stopped blaming myself, and I’ve learned to accept a situation I...