marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Gifts Of The Season

Twenty years ago, my talented Vietnamese student cut out most of the letters for this poem I wrote and he fashioned it into the shape of a tree:              The Christmas tree is a sight to see,              All decorated up ornamentally.              The bulbs all colored, the lights all bright,              I love to watch it late at night.              The gathering of gifts and family I see              As a child of five in my memory.              And now the gifts have come back to me,              Hanging here on this Christmas tree. There aren’t enough branches on the tree for all the gifts in my life. How about you? I haven’t forgotten about the daughter I miss. But I’m happier when I count my blessings. Happy Holidays to all my dear...

Attitude Is Everything

The miracles of recovery just keep flooding into my life, like a welcome storm after a long dry spell. The world around me, and the people in it, remain the same in many ways. The world still turns. But I’m not the same. My perceptions are different, and I see people and events through a different lens. I used to feel intimidated and defensive around my husband’s family. But we recently had a wonderful visit together. I enjoyed their company thoroughly. It is with great relief that I realize the problem was never with them; it was with me. And to be able to own that now, and move on comfortably, is but one of the gifts of my growth in recovery. I’ve heard it said that ours is a disease of relationships, and I agree. How substance use disorder of all forms tears through relationships—mother and child, husband and wife, father and son—and gets in the way of healthy communication. The twelve steps of recovery, when practiced diligently, offer so much hope for change. And that change is reflected in how we relate to those around us. Not every day and not completely. But it’s progress I’m making, not perfection I’m seeking. The willingness to grow along spiritual lines is enough for me. And it brings me closer to the peace and serenity I strive...

My Glass Is Half Full

From Hope For Today, January 23: “One of the gifts I have received from recovery is learning how to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Before the program I didn’t really understand the true nature of gratitude. I thought it was the happiness I felt when life happened according to my needs and wants. I thought it was the high I felt when my desire for instant gratification was fulfilled. Today…I know better. Gratitude is an integral part of my serenity. In fact, it is usually the means of restoring my serenity whenever I notice I’m straying from it. Gratitude opens the doors of my heart to the healing touch of my Higher Power. It isn’t always easy to feel grateful when the strident voice of my disease demands unhealthy behavior. However, when I work my program harder, it is possible. ‘Just for today I will smile…I will be grateful for what I have instead of concentrating on what I don’t have.’” Accepting life on life’s terms is hard. My daughter has been a drug addict for seventeen years, and I grieve the loss of her in my life every day. The five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance—I know them all, and not always in that order. My path to recovery involved a lot of denial in the beginning and, as it said in the reading, “the voice of my disease demanded unhealthy behavior.” So I’m grateful now for the serenity and peace that I have in my life. Acceptance is the gift I give myself every day when I let go and give Angie to God....

Remembering Angie

Today is my daughter’s 40th 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 accept 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...

Living In Abundance

“Life holds so much—so much to be happy about always. Most people ask for happiness on conditions. Happiness can only be felt if you don’t set conditions.” ~Arthur Rubenstein And another of my favorite quotes: ~Jennie Jerome Churchill: “Life may not be everything we want it to be. But to make the best of things as they are is the only way to be happy.” All of us in these rooms have experienced addiction in one form or another: in ourselves or in a loved one. It’s a cruel illness because unlike many serious illnesses that are incurable, drug addiction is often conquered by the sufferer. Many addicts recognize that they have the power to change if they are committed to recovery. Different people have different ways of dealing with it: some use 12-Step recovery, some use prayer, or yoga, or running, or writing things down. No one way is better than another. Whatever works for you. The point is that dealing with addiction is painful and messy. My life was derailed because of it. But I found a way to recover—from my own addictions as well as my addiction to saving my daughter, Angie—and I got my life back. I’m filled with gratitude everyday for that. And I wish us all the same peace and joy for that freedom. I learned to be happy. I learned “to make the best of things as they are.” And that’s quite a...

What Doesn’t Kill You…

Gene and I are over seventy. I guess that makes us officially “old.” But we’re not. Except for the arthritis that’s hurts most days, we’re still very active and engaged in our community. But we were tested a few days ago when we went hiking around Mt. Baker. On our last day, we went on a hike without reading about it first. Heliotrope Ridge took a while to get to by car. But the views of Mt. Baker made it worth it. We were so uplifted by the calm beauty all around us that we were inspired to stay there and go hiking. But we should have read the book first. It was grueling from the beginning. A hiker on the way back gave me hope: “This is the worst part!” I thought she meant just this stretch, but I soon found out she meant the whole two miles in. Mostly up. Gene and I walk almost every day. Nice relaxing flat walks on our beach or along the peaceful road on Camano Island. But we can’t do much elevation, certainly not 1200 feet. I have COPD and his lungs are even more shot than mine. It took us a long time, but we made it. I was pretty miserable huffing and puffing all the way up, and so was he. Even coming down I was in a bad mood, this time complaining about my knees and my broken toe. Well, I learned the difference between happiness and joy. I was not happy by the surface discomforts of going on a strenuous hike. But I came away feeling joyful:...