marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Remembering Angie

  Today is my daughter’s 39th birthday. She made this tapestry for me after her first rehab. She was always interested in Oriental art and designs. I think the simplicity fascinated her. For a long time I couldn’t look at it. In my early recovery, I was still wedded to the “If onlys.” But over time, I’ve learned to let go of “might have beens” and appreciate what is. I hang the tapestry proudly on my wall now. It’s one of many of my happy memories of her. I had twenty-one years with her as my daughter before addiction hijacked  and transformed her. I’m grateful for the good years I had with my daughter. I love...

Getting Ready For Change

From Hope for Today, June 17: “Thought for the Day:  Although God does not completely eradicate my defects, I am provided with Al-Anon tools to maintain my separation from them. ‘I expected to just say, ‘Okay, God, take over!’ and they’d be gone overnight. It didn’t quite work out that way.’”   If only things were so simple! I’m in partnership with my Higher Power, but I still have to do the footwork. The key word above is “separation.” I will always have defects; that’s what makes me human. But to be able to step back and look at them, to separate myself from them for just a bit, gives me the chance to take a look and decide what to do. It’s hard, sometimes, to let go of some defects. Sometimes stubbornness masquerades as determination; sometimes martyrdom looks like healthy self-sacrifice. There are a million ways to justify our behavior and rationalize it. But when a defect stands in the way of my well-being, or that of someone I love, then I’m grateful for the objectivity I’m given, allowing me the grace to separate from it.  ...

Breathing Lessons

From Hope for Today, June 10: “I find the lessons of Al-Anon appearing in the most unexpected places—for example, in pre-flight safety instructions. Along with the details of how to fasten the seat belt and where to find the nearest emergency exit, the instructions always advise how to deal with the loss of cabin pressure. The suggestion is that I apply my own oxygen mask, thus ensuring my survival, before attempting to help others…Only then, when I have taken care of these responsibilities to myself, am I strong and stable enough to help others.”   It seems like a no-brainer, the above advice. But for a long time I ignored my own needs, not taking care of myself, close to throwing myself under the bus, because of my obsession with my daughter Angie and saving her from her addiction. I loved my child to distraction, and I felt that self-sacrifice was a way to demonstrate my love. But I found after years of it that it just wasn’t working. All the “help” I gave my daughter, all the protection I provided, shielding her from the logical consequences of her drug-induced behavior, just kept her in her disease. What motivation did she have to change her behavior when I kept getting in the way? And as if that weren’t bad enough, my enabling behavior just made me sicker than I already was. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t doing the right thing  when I was over-protective. I felt guilty, torn, sleepless, and eventually the signs of PTSD were clear. I broke down. That’s when I put my oxygen mask on....

Good Enough

“Easy Does It” When I entered the rooms sixteen years ago, I was desperately unhappy and wanted to learn and do everything perfectly. But I needed to slow down and stop trying to force solutions. I especially needed to get to know myself better, because until I did that I would continue making the same mistakes in my relationships. So I’ve learned to be patient with myself and to let go of expectations. I can only control what I choose to do. Not my addict. If I’m happier these days it’s largely because I’m taking it easy on myself. I know that I’m doing the best I can, and that’s good...

“Living Well Is The Best Revenge”

I’ve received many emails from moms asking me how I cope with the living death of Angie’s heroin addiction. She’s neither dead nor alive. Many of my friends here know the hellish limbo I’m living in, without any resolution or closure. But I have found a way to cope well and move on with my life. This is what I wrote back:   “I put my grief in a back drawer and close it. Then I look at what’s in my front drawers every morning. I have so many wonderful things to be grateful for. Instead of focusing on the problem, I try to keep my mind on the solution. This is how I live. It keeps me humble, grateful, and glad to be alive. I honor Angie’s memory in this way, and I truly believe she would want me to live well and be happy. Blessings to you, Mom.”...