marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

“Guilt IsA Terrible Crippler…”

From Survival to Recovery, p. 25-26: “Unless recovery is found, blame, guilt, anger, depression, and many other negative attitudes can go on for generations in a family affected by alcoholism…Focusing on ourselves actually allows us to release other people to solve their own problems and frees us to find contentment and even happiness for ourselves.” We all have different stories of how addiction has touched our lives. In my life, guilt was a constant theme from very early in my childhood, and, as I said in my memoir, “Guilt is a terrible crippler.” It crippled me, especially, when my own child mirrored the addict in me and morphed into a worse and more dysfunctional addict than I ever was. Guilt and self-blame put me at risk in setting and enforcing boundaries, in becoming an enabler, in shielding Angie from the logical consequences of her behavior. In short, guilt kept me from parenting my daughter intelligently and kept me stuck in a hole. Fortunately I found recovery and release from my own guilt, much of it misplaced, which in turn is freeing Angie to live her own life and solve her own...

“Blame Is For God And Small Children”

“Fifth Step Prayer: Higher Power, My inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for Your help in admitting my wrongs to another person and to You. Assure me, and be with me, in this Step, for without this step I cannot progress in my recovery. With Your help, I can do this and I will do it.”  I’ve stopped the blame game. Admitting my defects to God and another human being has been critical in my recovery. Denial is like a dark cave: we hide there, from ourselves and others, and without any light it’s not easy to see the truth. I’ve struggled with addictions my whole life, but until I told someone about them, brought them into the light, they weren’t real to me, and I could continue on the merry-go-round of denial. But when I told someone else, I couldn’t pretend anymore. Sharing with someone else makes me accountable. Admitting our defects to others shines a light on who we really are. Then, and only the, do we have the opportunity, through God’s help and the support of others, to work on our defects and our recovery.  P.S. It’s also kinda necessary to know who we are, and admit who we are, before we can love who we are and accept who we...

Taking (My Own) Inventory

“Fourth Step Prayer: Dear God, It is I who has made my life a mess. I have done it, but I cannot undo it. My mistakes are mine and I will begin a searching and fearless moral inventory. I will write down my wrongs, but I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete the task.” When I joined Al-Anon fifteen years ago, I was miserable and desperate to save my daughter from self-destructing. But I was also guilt-ridden and felt overly responsible for the mess her life was in. Because I was inclined at that point to be overly hard on myself, I did not take this step properly. I focused exclusively on my defects and ignored my strengths. If I had had a program sponsor I would have received the proper guidance. But it took a very long time for this CSR (compulsively self-reliant) Al-Anon to admit she needed help in getting help. “My way or the highway…” Uh, huh, no wonder I was getting nowhere. Fortunately I did finally start to get it and come out of my isolation. It’s been a miraculous journey ever since. What I love about this step is the inherent balance and demand for honesty. There are few shortcuts to telling the truth. We can hide and distort and rationalize all we want. But brown eyes are brown, no matter how much we want them to be blue. Facing ourselves in the mirror on a regular basis takes discipline. But for me it’s been the best way to change and grow. As I continue to...

En”light”enment

Ernest Hemingway famously said: “We are all broken; that’s how the light gets in.” This speaks to me, and to many of us. In my search to be free of my emotional pain, I have found en”light”enment in a recovery program with tools to help me live better. It hasn’t been an overnight cure for my misery. I will always mourn the loss of my daughter Angie to this cruel disease. But, over time, I’ve learned to let go of some bad habits that weren’t serving me anymore—and contributed to me serving her even less. What didn’t serve me? Guilt. Untreated, that led to enabling, which served her not at all. Working this miraculous program has helped me see that I’m just another child of God—and that I’m worth something. My years in various 12-Step fellowships have saved my life. Back in 2001 when a school counselor told me to go to an Al-Anon meeting, I told her, “No, that’s not for me.” Yes, it...

The Pain Of Resistance

From In All Our Affairs: Making Crises Work for You “I had always wanted to be different, better than others. It comforted me to believe that I loved more, cared more and suffered more from the effects of someone else’s drinking. I was different when I went to Al-Anon. I suffered from these feelings of alienation, yet while I wanted to belong, I wanted even more to remain apart—to hang on to my old life, my old thinking. I felt that as I accepted each truth, each part of the program, some portion of me was going to die. I was not capable of believing that there would be a new life, or that a mature woman might be born from the wreckage of a guilt-ridden, obsessive child.” My resistance remained even as I took the Steps of recovery. While I made progress emotionally through friendship and the release of some of my anxiety, I was unable to surrender myself to the idea of a Higher Power. It was a few years before I made that final surrender. Then and only then did I have any idea what Al-Anon was all about. I now understand my uniqueness. There is no one else on earth exactly like me, but with God as my partner and as a member of such a fellowship, I am not...

Family Ties

(excerpt from the Prologue of my memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero) “Where might my daughter be now if fate, or genes, had been kinder to her? Now, several years into her illness, I am coming to terms with the terrible legacy that began generations ago in my own family and which I have unwittingly passed on to my daughter.  All these years I’ve diligently searched for answers, clarity, and solace in the face of terrible pain. Like a gift from the universe, it has come to me slowly, and it is with me now. But it’s been a hard won victory.  Looking back, it’s hard to believe Angie ever could have been such a joyful child.  True, her start in life was, between the colic, screaming, and subsequent hernia operation at a mere three months, not a smooth one.  But she bounced forward into childhood so that I never imagined what would be down the road many years later.  There were signs, yes, but I never saw the enormity of full-blown drug addiction coming. In any case there’s nothing I could have done to prevent the dreadful onslaught that would engulf my family. I liken the effect addiction has on families to a bomb exploding in the living room with everyone nearby.  The shrapnel hits us all in different places; none of us is left untouched, though some may be wounded more than others. Some even ignore the explosion or block it out as the insidious effects of addiction take root in these bewildered individuals. What happens when a bomb drops...