marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Happy Distractions

From Courage to Change, June 9: “If my problems have brought me to prayer, then they have served a purpose.”   There are so many different ways to pray: walking; meditating; talking to a Higher Power; singing; baking bread; sewing. I view prayer as letting go of myself for the time being and turning my attention to another activity. Turning to something else that calls me, that enriches me. My problems with my AD Angie leveled me to the ground in the beginning. I took it on myself as if that were my calling. And I felt good about myself in the process because I was trying to fix a terrible problem. But what distinguished my behavior from prayer was that it was all about me. Far from turning to someone or something else, my obsession about saving my daughter was grounded in misplaced guilt, feelings of inadequacy, and stubborn will. I was addicted to my daughter. I’m grateful I found a recovery program for parents of addicts that was compassionate and useful. I wasn’t helping myself or my daughter by blaming myself for an illness I didn’t cause. I needed to let go of behaviors toward her that weren’t helping. Though I’m always ready to help Angie when she asks for help, I’ve moved on. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know one thing for certain: I deserve to enjoy what’s left of my life. I don’t want addiction and its wreckage to claim two victims in my immediate family.      ...

HOPE: Happy. Our. Program. Exists.

“The first gift a newcomer receives from contact with Al-Anon is hope. Seeing how others rise above their problems, listening to situations worse than their own, absorbing the atmosphere of love and goodwill, send them home with a new lease on life.” (One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, pg.94) “Happy Our Program Exists.” Well, that’s an understatement! Without the tools I’ve picked up in the rooms of recovery, I would be very depressed. It wasn’t easy to undergo a complete overhaul of my attitude, but I needed one. I came into the Program miserable, anxious and terrified. I felt overly responsible, as though what I did could cure my daughter’s illness. But over time I’ve learned to let go of a situation I lacked the ability to change. There’s a lot of freedom in...

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...

Independence Day

From Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, p. 169: “I’m still grieving, but the despair is gone.” “I am learning that though I grieve incredibly for the loss of my ———- (fill in the blank), I don’t have to drown in that pain.”   Before getting into recovery, I wasn’t aware of the tools available to all of us to cope with the inevitable disappointments in life. No one had explained to me the concept of letting go of people and situations that I had no control over. This is huge because the continual battle of my will to change the unchangeable was exhausting and taking a toll on me more than the person I was hoping to change.   The regular practice of gratitude has gifted me with a perspective on my own life, simply focusing on my blessings and keeping them in the forefront of my mind. Surrendering to a greater being than I am for guidance and faith is so basic. And I  believe absolutely that no matter what happens in my life, all will be well. These are but three of the tools the program has given me. And when I pick them up and use them, no matter what sadness I must deal with, the despair is lifted and I have hope. Happy (early) Fourth of July, everyone! This year I’m celebrating sixteen years of freedom and independence from the disease that affects so many of us. God Bless!                ...

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.  ...