marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Loosen Your Grip!

White knuckling it through life is exhausting. Different methods to relax work for different people. Yoga, prayer, knitting, running, reading, listening to music—the list is endless. The best thing for me to relax is the Serenity Prayer. It has become my mantra: “God, grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.” I embrace this prayer in big and little ways every day. Its wisdom keeps me right-sized and humble, while at the same time encouraging me to make changes in my life that are within my reach. We are all challenged, of course, by the last line. That’s why I keep going back to recovery...

Seeing Through the Tears

S From Each Day A New Beginning, January 9: “‘The Chinese say that water is the most powerful element, because it is perfectly nonresistant. It can wear away a rock and sweep all before it.’ ~Florence Scovel Shinn Nonresistance, ironically, may be a posture we struggle with. Nonresistance means surrendering the ego absolutely. For many of us, the ego, particularly disguised as false pride, spurred us on to struggle after struggle. ‘Can’t they see I’m right?’ we moaned, and our resistance only created more of itself. Conversely, flowing with life, ‘bubbling’ with the ripples, giving up our ego, releases from us an energy that heals the situation—that smoothes the negative vibrations in our path. Peace comes to us. We will find serenity each time we willingly humble ourselves. ‘Resistance is more familiar. Nonresistance means growth and peace. I’ll try for serenity today.’” It is very hard to accept life on life’s terms. When I faced a heartbreaking situation in my daughter, I fought tooth and nail to free her of the addiction that had taken hold of her. And I was stubborn; I persisted. For several years, I resisted. But I learned that my power in her struggle was limited. And I needed to surrender my ego and my will to the power of my God. And have faith—a deeply held faith that everything in my life is unfolding as it was meant to. I found my peace...

“What Goes Around…

“One receives only that which one is given. The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds, and words, return to us sooner or later, with astounding accuracy.” ~Florence Skovel Shin It gives me pause to remember that. On a bad day, when I’m mean or resentful, I can count on those feelings hitting me on the back of my head. And that makes me think twice about it. But, being only human, I don’t; I just react. Now I’m learning to slow down and think before I act because I know there will be consequences. The wonderful thing about my recovery program is that I’ve learned how to make amends on a regular basis. When I give in to my worst impulses and turn mean toward my partner, for example, the awareness God has given me lets me stop in my tracks, turn around and tell him I’m sorry. It’s such a simple act of kindness, but before recovery I didn’t have the awareness it takes to recognize when I mess up. Now I try harder in all of my relationships. I’ve heard it said that ours is a disease of relationships, and that truth is so clear to me as I see mine improve, one by one, when I apply the tools of the program to my life. Al-Anon’s Tenth Step, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it,” has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve been humbled and joyful to be part of a community of equals. We’re all in the same boat, struggling to survive on the...

Nuts: Not.Using.The.Steps.

N “When I read a step and think about it deeply, I find it opens the door to new insights. When I read that same step again, it reveals new spiritual ideas. They seem to dig into our consciousness and unearth for us the wonderful potential for good in all our relationships with life.” ~One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, pg.141 I’ve heard it said that Al-Anon offers answers to heal many troubled relationships. Those of us in the recovery program share many of the same qualities: being affected by another person’s addiction. So how have I been affected? By having a strong desire to control those around me. Growing up in emotional chaos, I needed to maintain the illusion of control to survive. But carrying that desire with me into adulthood too often became a defect. Examining my motives in some situations has helped me let go of the powerful need I had to be in charge. I’ve learned to let go of things that are not mine to hold onto. Just loosen them in my hands as though they were the reins on my horse. And keep moving...

Anyone But Me

From Each Day A New Beginning, February 19: “’God knows no distance.’ ~Charleszetta Waddles Relying on God, however we understand God’s presence, is foreign to many of us. We were encouraged from early childhood to be self-reliant. Even when we desperately needed another’s help, we feared asking for it. When confidence wavered, as it so often did, we hid the fear—sometimes with alcohol, sometimes with pills, Sometimes we simply hid at home. Our fears never fully abated…Slowly and with practice it will become natural to turn within, to be God-reliant rather than self-reliant There’s a joke in the Program that “our best thinking got us here (into the rooms of recovery).” And it’s so true! I joke at meetings that I’ve always been “CSR,” compulsively self-reliant.” I have been for much of my life, afraid to ask for help and even more afraid to accept it. As a child I had to rely on myself for so many things, and that became a survival strategy. But as an adult, that very façade of strength can become a terrible defect. Appearing as a formidable wall of arrogance, it only served to isolate me and separate me from my peers. I had to tear down that wall. And when I did, when I found the courage to bare my fears and vulnerabilities and ask for help when I needed it, I found my humanity. My faith in a power greater than myself enabled me to let go of my self-reliance and join hands with others as we reached out and helped one another. It hasn’t removed the problems from 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...