marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

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:...

Just For Today

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, but only saps todays of its strength.” ~A.J. Cronin Wow, it takes tremendous discipline to stay grounded in the present. To live “just for today.” On any given day, how do my thoughts wander back to past times, and the inevitable regrets that crop up from time to time? And if I’m not looking backwards, I’m projecting into a future that hasn’t even happened yet. This is natural for some of us who have an addicted loved one. It’s called “anticipatory grief,” and it’s meant to prepare us for the worst. And though it may be a way to soften future blows, the act of being there in a sad future keeps me from smelling the roses under my nose.  Today the sun came up over the mountain and last night there was a beautiful crescent moon. My friend has pneumonia and I’m going to take her flowers in the hospital. I’m reminded to be grateful for my good health. My friends and family in our recovery program are a great comfort to me as I move forward in my life. When I remember to stay focused on the present day and all the blessings that fill my days, I can step out with confidence and faith in my Higher Power, assured that all is...

Laughter is Contagious

From Hope for Today, April 6: “I also used humor as a manipulative tool to get people to like me. …My sense of humor wasn’t spontaneous or appropriate. I used it to please people. When no one was around to please, however, I was miserable… Today my sense of humor is a natural reflection of who I am. I experience the world through smiles and laughter rather than through bitter smirks. I share joy with others rather than seek company for my misery. I help others heal rather than attack them. I allow my sense of humor to unfold naturally, just the way it was meant, and I watch the wonderful results as my Higher Power works through me toward a higher...

Darkness And Light

From Courage to Change, November 27: “’When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.’ ~Charles A. Beard       Though I once viewed my life with tragedy, I now have a different perspective on those experiences. I know that I am a stronger person as a result of what I’ve been through. Those of us who love addicts have been sorely tested. But it’s what I’ve come away with that makes my life in recovery worthwhile: kindness, compassion, and understanding. Now I can discern the...

Life goes On, And We With It

“The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence.” ~Sue Atchley Ebaugh Happy New Year to my grandchildren. If ever there were a reminder of grace, it’s in the face and voices of my son’s children. “We love you, Bela!” May the new year continue to teach me that focusing on one’s blessings is the best way to live well....

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.      ...