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 life.

The Benefits Of Fellowship

From From Survival to Recovery, p. 19:

“Surrounded by other recovering people, we are learning how to heal our broken hearts and create healthy, productive, joyful lives…(our program) has led many of us to serenity, fellowship, and relief from loneliness and pain.”

Because of the stigma and shame surrounding all forms of addiction, many of us have kept our loved one’s problem (or our own) shrouded in secrecy. I did most of my life, and only in recent years have I dared to share my family disease with the rest of the world. I realized that until I faced the dreaded subject and learned more about it, it would continue to rule me and my family.

“It” is addiction and all of its effects and consequences. They are far reaching, especially for the family of an addict. And they can become terribly complicated as we become enmeshed in the lives of those we love. Being in the rooms of recovery has helped me untangle the mess.

That’s why a number of programs have been so valuable to many of us who suffer. We break out of our isolation and share our stories with others like us. We gain valuable perspective by listening to others. Our self-esteem soars as we see others listening to us and validating our experiences. We are offered compassion and understanding inside the rooms when it may be hard to find either of those things on the outside.

And we begin our journey toward getting our lives back when once they seemed to be lost.

FEAR: False. Evidence. Appearing. Real.

“In Al-Anon, the answer to ‘What if?’ Is: ‘Don’t project! Don’t imagine the worst; deal with your problems as they arise. Live one day at a time.’ I cannot do anything about things that haven’t happened; I will not let the past experiences make me dread the unknown future. ‘It is a vain and unprofitable thing to conceive either grief or joy for future things which perhaps will never come about.'” (One day At a Time in Al-Anon pg. 193)

In another recovery book is this quote: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength.”  A.J. Cronin said it better than I ever could. If I choose to put my foot in the future and worry about things that haven’t happened yet, both my feet are no longer planted in the present, and I’m not focused on what’s happening right now. The present, whether good or bad, is the only thing I can genuinely experience. So I owe it to myself to live it, learn from it, benefit from it, and go to sleep.

Tomorrow will come soon enough.

Secrets Make Us Sick

From Hope for Today, June 25:

“As I was growing up, I felt unsure and afraid of life. In my alcoholic family, we didn’t discuss thoughts and feelings, so I believed I was the only person who felt this way. I hid my insecurities for fear of being ridiculed and shamed by those who knew me. Although it hurt, keeping my secrets to myself made me feel safe.

Thought for the Day: …I can set my secrets and myself free.”

 

That is a big part of my story. And I found after being in recovery for a few years many other people just like me, people who grew up around alcoholism and other forms of addiction. The stigma was so great fifty years ago that no one discussed it in my family. And even now there is shame attached to the disease. But I’ve been adding my voice to many other addicts out there, mothers in particular, who are learning to live with the cruelty of addiction in a loved one.

I live better and feel healthier without the burden of secrets weighing me down. If we bring addiction out into the open, it will lose its power.

And I, for one, feel lighter.

 

Lessons In Letting Go

A Memoir of Recovery

 

“Her apartment was only two miles away from the condo. I parked on her street and was relieved to see her car, so I knew she was home. Running up the stairs, I tripped over a cat and sent it screeching down the steps. I knocked on her door but there was no answer. I knocked again—again, no answer. Music was playing, so I knew she was home. If she’d answered her phone, I could have told her I was coming. But I was determined to see her so I banged on the door.

Finally, she came and opened it, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth while she zipped up her jeans. Without waiting for an invitation, I brushed past her and approached the bedroom, but stopped in my tracks. Joe, her boyfriend, was lying on the bed, prostrate, his long legs hanging off the end. He was so out of it I don’t think he knew I was there.

‘Mom, come back here,’ she hissed, frantically beckoning me back

into the living room where she was standing. ‘This is not a good time.’”

‘It’s never a good time, Angie. You’ve been avoiding your father and

me, and I want to know why.’

‘Mom, I know you’re worried. Joe’s really trying to kick the stuff,

honest. Me too. We’re detoxing right now. That’s why it’s not a good time.’

‘Not a good time…’ Summer of 2005 was upon us, and Angie had been struggling with serious drug addiction for four years. First it was methamphetamine, then cocaine, and now meth again. There had been countless betrayals, one rehab, and brief, blessed periods of sunshine between the clouds, not to mention the accomplishment of earning her college degree. The highs and lows were exhausting me. But I was so sick of it all and frankly really angry with my daughter for not trying harder to work on her own recovery.  She had so much going for her; it was such a waste.

‘I can’t deal with this, Angie. You know what you need to do, forchrissakejust do it!’ Pausing to take a breath and looking back toward the bedroom, ‘And get rid of that creep on your bed,’ I hammered.

I turned and left the apartment, slamming the door. I was furious—and terrified. It was so overwhelming after all we’d already been through, to be watching her in the middle of another relapse. Had Angie learned nothing from all her suffering so far? And what about me? Was the teacher still teachable?”

Excerpt from my award-winning memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero

Yes, I used the word “teachable.” What was it that I needed to learn? Angie was 26 that year, an adult. I needed to leave her to face the consequences of her own choices. I raised her along with two other children with a strong moral code. But Angie had an illness, something that trumped all the lessons from her upbringing. You don’t tell a drug addict to stop reaching for drugs, or an alcoholic to stop needing the numbness that a drink provides. Addiction is unlike cancer or diabetes in that it is spiritual in its outset and then becomes a physical problem. But telling my daughter what to do was totally ineffective, and it was wearing me out in the process.

The effects of living with the disease of addiction were destroying my life. In 2008, I had a nervous breakdown and had to retire from my teaching job. As all addicts need to find their bottom in order to recover, so do their families. That was mine. That was where the rubber hit the road for me. I stopped obsessing over my grown daughter and tried to get my own life back.

But first I needed to find “the grace to release my addict with love, and stop trying to change her,” as it says in the Naranon pamphlet. What could be harder for a parent? It’s the hardest lesson of all, letting go of an addicted child. But I have finally found the strength to do that, by using the tools in my recovery program. I have learned to accept what I don’t have the power to change, and to have faith that life for me is unfolding as it was meant to.

And so it is: faith and acceptance go hand in hand.

I Believe

From Each Day A New Beginning, May 1:

“We may see clearly how and why we get in our own way. But unless we have faith in a power greater than ourselves, we won’t step aside. We won’t let go. We’ll do the same things and “understand” ourselves in the same ways. We may even use our “insight” to keep ourselves stuck—to  protect ourselves from the risk of change.

Now, having had a spiritual awakening, having come to believe that a higher power can restore us, we possess a gift more powerful than the keenest insight—faith in our ability to grow and change. We are children of God. All the creative power of the universe streams through us, if we don’t block it.”

The unseeable. The unknowable. Faith.

Before recovery, if I didn’t see it, it wasn’t there. Now, like Indiana Jones, I’ve learned to take that leap of faith that frightened me most of my life. And I’ve been rewarded.

God has become the pilot of my ship. I can sit back and enjoy the ride. I don’t have to be in charge anymore.

And I know that all will be well.

How Fear Inhibits Us

From Courage To Change, May 29:

“Worry and fear can alter our perceptions until we lose all sense of reality, twisting neutral situations into nightmares. Because most worry focuses on the future, if we can learn to stay in the present, living one day or one moment at a time, we take positive steps toward warding off the effects of fear…When we anticipate doom, we lose touch with what is happening now and see the world as a threatening place against which we must be on constant alert…Most of our fears will never come to pass, and if they do, foreknowledge probably won’t make us any better prepared.

Today I will recognize that worries can be potent and mind-altering. I choose not to indulge in them at all.”

The Gift Of Faith

A Memoir of Recovery

“It wasn’t until I was tested as her mother that I found my ability to harness any faith at all. My sadness as a child paled before my growing despair as an adult child. The journey I’m on now has given me fresh new insights as I’ve confronted myself and understood where I have come from. My journey has in turn helped me understand where I have taken my own family. What was given to me has been passed down to my children. Yet I understand now that I could not have turned out differently, nor could I have been a different parent. My behavior as an adult was scripted from my childhood. What I need now is faith in something outside of myself to help me carry the burden—and gratitude that I’m finally able to ask for help. My faith has everything to do with turning over my self-will and accepting the will of another. I have found peace and serenity in acceptance of life as it is happening every day. Letting go and handing over the reins has given me the freedom to live my own life now without feeling shackled to the past or frightened of the future.”

Excerpt from my award-winning memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero

 

The Power Of Faith

 

From Hope For Today, June 13:

“…What I had overlooked in Step Two was the word ‘Power.’ The day I started placing my attention on that Power instead of on insanity, I began to see miracles in my life. One such miracle was my ability to talk about my fears in Al-Anon meetings. Other miracles included taking the Twelve Steps that lead me to serenity, and engaging in the process of forgiving and healing.”

It has taken many years of hearing Step Two read at meetings for me to really hear the word ‘Power.’ Now I realize how much more awesome my Higher Power is than this disease. That power has always kept me from tumbling into the chasm.

Before recovery, I was spiritually bankrupt. I had no faith in anyone other than myself. But that wasn’t working for me: I needed to bet on another horse. As I slowly accepted that I was powerless over other people, places, and things, it became easier for me to bring God into my life and let Him take over. Suddenly, I felt much lighter.

Instead of dwelling in fear, today I am striving to pass on the miracles of recovery to my children and grandchildren. With faith and hope in my heart, I look forward to getting up every day. I’m just glad I stuck around long enough for the miracle to happen.