marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Memories of Greece

      I’m finishing up my second memoir about addiction, a sequel to A Mother’s Story, but had to visit a major crossroads in my life first. My daughter Angie was ten when a big change occurred in our lives, and I needed to revisit Greece with a fresh perspective nearly thirty years later. Sending love to all my FB friends from the top of a volcano, Santorini, where they have internet and TV,...

“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...

Loosen Your Grip!

From From Survival To Recovery, page 268: “Living fully requires enough trust to release our manipulative, tight-fisted control of life, for only then can we accept the guidance of a Power greater than ourselves. For adult children of alcoholics, our damaged, devastated trust has to be healed and nurtured bit by bit until we feel safe enough to truly let go and let God. Trust does not come from reading a book, however inspired, but from experiencing new relationships in which we are trusted and we can learn to trust those around us…If we willingly surrender ourselves to the spiritual discipline of the Twelve Steps, our lives will be transformed…Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential…We will laugh more. Fear will be replaced by faith, and gratitude will come naturally as we realize that our Higher Power is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves…” “We will laugh more.”  How can I, beset by depression and instability for many of my early years, come to revisit my life now from another perspective? How have I learned how to laugh and see the comedy in things? What has enabled me at last to live well and be happy? Being in the rooms. But I hasten to add that we can learn the same tools elsewhere: the tools of letting go and accepting what we can’t change; the tool of gratitude (a big one—half the world is starving; I have enough food and a roof over my head); the tool of detachment and understanding our personal boundaries in relation to...

Reconciliation

When I met my partner, Gene, twenty-four years ago, he was an experienced canoeist, and he loved paddling every summer. So I figured I’d better learn fast. One memorable incident was during a trip to Quetico Provincial Park across the Minnesota border in Canada. It was there that I added a chapter to my “Life Lessons” journal. Gene and I always went canoeing with his friend, Stewart and his wife, Joan. I didn’t like Joan from the beginning. She talked non-stop, endlessly showing off how much she knew about everything. And worst of all, because I can’t even boil a carrot, she was a gourmet cook. So the two weeks of wilderness paddling and camping were a challenge for me. At the end of one day, we scouted around for a stellar camping site and I showed Joan the one we had found. “This island sucks,” she sniffed, “Stew and I’ll stay on that one over there,” she informed us, pointing to another one across an inlet. “Okay,” I chirped. “See you tomorrow.” I was awakened in the morning by the smell of smoke in the air. “Gene, get up!” I screamed, looking across the water. “There’s a fire on Stew and Joan’s island!” We piled into our canoe and raced across the inlet to find them frantically trying to remove the underbrush from the flames. Soon we heard the Canadian Forest Service arriving by helicopter to douse the area. It took twenty-six hours, but they finally extinguished the fire. Joan had neglected to stamp out her cigarette while she was shitting in the woods, and, well, shit happens....

The Boomerang Of Enabling

A few years ago in one of my support groups in New Mexico, a friend shared how she had to lock everything up in her house. She’d lock the jewelry here, the silver there. She had a different key for every place, and one time she was so flummoxed by her son that she lost all the keys! We laughed together at that one, grateful that we still could laugh. This is what it comes to for many of us parents. We erect walls to protect ourselves, keeping the addicts out. And then, of course, we feel guilty about doing that. My daughter Angie used to steal valuables from my home in order to sell them for drug money. It was safer, she thought, to steal from me than from a store. She already knew what an enabler I was; but she was still a thief. And even though her addiction pushed her onto the wrong path, she still should have paid the consequences if she was going to learn and mature. But I let her get away with it.  I deeply regret that. They will work us, manipulate us, and use every tool in their arsenal to get what they want if they’re still using. Parents are so vulnerable, and they’re walking a fine line between helping their child recover, and enabling them to continue using. We learn eventually to sit frozen in inaction, to do nothing.  We learn to let our addicts be accountable for their own actions, and hopefully learn from the consequences: eviction, jail, or death. But it’s that last consequence that holds us hostage,...

Lighten Up! Do We Still Know How To Laugh?

  From Courage to Change, March 13: “I’m apt to think of Step Seven—‘Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings’–as a step I take tearfully and on my knees. I’ve had that experience, but I want to entertain the possibility that Step Seven might be taken with joy—and even humor. Sometimes the sign that I have actually gotten humble enough to ask my Higher Power to remove a shortcoming is that I can laugh about it. Suddenly a past action or decision of mine seems ludicrous and I can stop taking myself so seriously… So the next time I want to tear my hair out because I haven’t gotten rid of some nagging shortcoming, I’ll try to lighten up and see how silly my intensity can be… Desperation and pain can certainly lead me to humility, but in Al-Anon I’m cultivating a new and eager willingness to follow my Higher Power’s guidance. Because I am willing, I’m freer to learn from all of life’s lessons, not just the ones that hurt.” How did I ever get here? When I began my recovery journey I was in so much pain I couldn’t see through the river of salty tears I was drowning in. I was consumed with sadness, alternately watching Angie slowly self-destruct and determining to save her from herself. We all know that unhappy place, and we pray to be released from our sorrow. I’m one of the lucky ones; I stuck around long enough to learn how to laugh again. “whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not…” I’m not angry at God anymore and I accept His...