marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

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...

The Freedom That Comes With Surrender

From Courage to Change, January 14: “I learned in Alanon that I’m bound to fail to make someone else stop drinking because I am powerless over alcoholism. Others in the fellowship had failed as well, yet they seemed almost happy to admit it. In time, I understood: by letting go of this battle we were sure to lose, we became free. Gradually, I learned that nothing I did or did not do would convince my loved one to get sober. I understood intellectually, but it took time before I believed it in my heart…Today I will take the path to personal freedom and serenity that begins when I surrender.”   My mother love doesn’t operate on an “intellectual” level. I behave on instinct, and it’s a natural instinct to want to save our children. I tried to save Angie—for years. I thought that NOT trying was giving up. And I would never give up on my child. In time, I learned about the nature of addiction—what it was and what it wasn’t. It’s not a choice or a moral failure; it’s an illness, and I have no more power to cure her from that than from any other disease. So, other than leading Angie to programs that might help her, I’ve let go. There’s nothing more I can do. I pray for her and hope she reaches for recovery from the illness that has separated her from her family. And I hope she comes back to us. But life is short, and I want mine back. I’ve turned my attention to other people and things in my life. I...

“Happiness Is An Inside Job”

From Each Day A New Beginning, September 30: “What difference does it make how I am 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… The program offers us the awareness that our security, happiness, and well-being reside within. The uplifting moments of our lives may enhance our security, but they can’t guarantee that they will last. Only the relationship we have with ourselves and God within can promise the gift of security. The ripples in my life are reminders to me to go within.” When I rely too heavily on circumstances in my life, especially those over which I have no control, I’m setting myself up. It’s great when things go smoothly in my life, but often they don’t. When all is well, it’s natural to feel happiness and a sense of well-being. But I can lose that sense of security in a heartbeat when all is not well, when I am burdened by heartbreak. That’s when I’m grateful for the spiritual life I have at my disposal. When I remember to trust in my program every day, I’m able to feel God’s grace. My daughter Angie has been in and out of addiction for fifteen years, and for many of those years I allowed her illness to destroy my well-being. I fought like a warrior mom to save her, as though her...

Another Perspective

“A Open Letter to My Family (from the drug addict) I am a drug user. I need help. Don’t solve my problems for me. This only makes me lose respect for you. Don’t lecture, moralize, scold, blame, or argue, whether I’m loaded or sober. It may make you feel better, but it will make the situation worse. Don’t accept my promises. The nature of my illness prevents my keeping them, even though I mean them at the time. Promising is only my way of postponing pain. Don’t keep switching agreements; if an agreement is made, stick to it. Don’t lose your temper with me. It will destroy you and any possibility of helping me. Don’t allow your anxiety for me to make you do what I should do for myself. Don’t cover up or spare me the consequences of my using. It may reduce the crisis, but it will make my illness worse. Above all, don’t run away from reality as I do.Drug dependence, my illness, gets worse as my using continues. Start now to learn, to understand, to plan for recovery. Find NAR-ANON, whose groups exist to help the families of drug abusers. I need help: from a doctor, a psychologist, a counselor, from an addict who found recovery in NA, and from God. Your User”   Enmeshment can be crippling: we don’t have enough emotional distance, often, to deal intelligently and effectively with the addict. Stepping back, detaching, takes discipline and restraint. Such a hard thing to do when we’re in this emotional minefield. It has taken me years in my recovery program to act more and...

If We Only Had A Crystal Ball…

My daughter, Angie, got through childhood and adolescence very well, and not unlike many other young people. But there were signs of the coming storm. Here’s an early excerpt from my award-winning recovery memoir: “If I was surprised by my daughter’s drug addiction in 2001, it’s because she appeared so functional and went out of her way to hide herself from me.  Later on once her addiction had taken hold of her, I would be incredulous at the dysfunctional behavior I was seeing. It’s as though she had become possessed. She had problems, but I thought I was helping her deal with them responsibly. There were no visible red flags. She didn’t stay in bed every day and pull the covers over her head. She diligently saw her therapist every week, facing every day with discipline and good humor. She never missed her classes and she never quit her jobs. Her grades were excellent. Maybe—and this is important to recognize now—this was the beginning of the denial that would hamper me throughout Angie’s addiction, preventing me from dealing with her illness intelligently and effectively. Angie was a good daughter. But please, beware of the complacency in those words.  Clearly, she hid her pain very well. Clearly, much was lurking beneath the surface that I did not see. And if I ache with the vacant promise of all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” it’s because I know that even if I had known what was coming down the road, I couldn’t have stopped it.”  ~from A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym), available on...

Loosen Your Grip—Take Two

From Courage to Change, March 28: “What happens when I physically hold on tightly to something? I turn my head away. I squeeze my eyes shut. My knuckles ache as my fists clench. Fingernails bite into my palms. I exhaust myself. I hurt! On the other hand, when I trust God to give me what I need, I let go. I face forward. My hands are freer for healthy, loving, and enjoyable activities. I find unexpected reserves of energy. My eyes open to see fresh opportunities, many of which have been there all along. Before I complain about my suffering, I might do well to examine myself. I may be surprised by the amount of pain I can release by simply letting go.” As with most other things in my life, I have a choice. I choose to use the tools at my disposal that have helped me to be a happier, more serene person: gratitude, acceptance, faith. Life is good; it’s all a matter of...