marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Making It Real

Step Five: Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.   This is an honest program, and I recognize that I’ve been lying to myself and others my whole life. Shame, stigma, embarrassment were just a few of my rationales. But the lies kept my addictions going. I didn’t have to face them if I didn’t acknowledge them. Telling someone else was the game changer for me. Other people became the mirrors I needed for valuable feedback. And telling other people made it all real. I could no longer hide in the shadows with my defects. Bringing them out in the open with witnesses gives us a chance to deal with our defects more honestly and effectively. Freeing myself of some of my defects is critical to my growth and recovery in the program. My defects were roadblocks for me and contributed to my drinking. I’m glad I’ve come out of isolation and faced myself. Day by day, I’m healing and getting better.  ...

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...

HOW: Honest. Open. Willing.

“Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness are the three primary principles in laying down a solid foundation for recovery. Honest with oneself. Being open to a Power greater than ourselves and willing to take certain steps.”   For a long time I avoided looking in the mirror. I used to walk down a busy street and turn my head away from any mirrors or reflections of myself. Why did I do that? I’m not so hard on the eyes! But it’s not about my physical appearance. I think it goes much deeper than that. There was much about myself that I didn’t like, but rather than face it squarely I hid it in denial. I didn’t really know myself at all, and I wondered sometimes why I had the problems I had. Especially why other people reacted to me the way they did. I realized I needed to make some changes in myself, and one of the first steps for me was taking an honest inventory of my defects of character, especially my resentments. They were weighing me down and acting as roadblocks in a number of my primary relationships. I guess things had to break down pretty badly in my life for me to open my mind to change. And willingness followed easily because I wanted to be happy. Without healthy relationships with my loved ones, I wasn’t. I will always be grateful to have found my recovery fellowship. It’s there that I learned the tools to live well and strive to be happy. One day at a time, I work hard to be honest with myself and others, remain...

More Breathing Lessons

“These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.” Jose Ortega y Gasset taken from Richard Rohr’s book Breathing Under Water Many times in recovery meetings people refer to us all as shipwrecked human beings. I like that metaphor because it reminds me that we are all together on that ship, all part of the same human race, triumphing sometimes, often struggling, but together. How we navigate our lives together on that ship is as varied as the shells in the ocean. But 12-Step work has a lot in common with many other forms of spiritual recovery, some of them organized religions. I go out of my way to avoid the “R” word, but don’t we all seek peace and serenity in our troubled world? The tools we use strive toward the same goal. We need not be divided. We all pray for the same miracles, the health and wellness of ourselves and our loved ones. When I remember that, I feel as though we are all part of the same...

Secrets Make Us Sick

From Hope for Today, June 25: “As I was growing up, I felt unsure and afraid of life. In my alcoholic family, we didn’t discuss thoughts and feelings, so I believed I was the only person who felt this way. I hid my insecurities for fear of being ridiculed and shamed by those who knew me. Although it hurt, keeping my secrets to myself made me feel safe. Thought for the Day: …I can set my secrets and myself free.”   That is a big part of my story. And I found after being in recovery for a few years many other people just like me, people who grew up around alcoholism and other forms of addiction. The stigma was so great fifty years ago that no one discussed it in my family. And even now there is shame attached to the disease. But I’ve been adding my voice to many other addicts out there, mothers in particular, who are learning to live with the cruelty of addiction in a loved one. I live better and feel healthier without the burden of secrets weighing me down. If we bring addiction out into the open, it will lose its power. And I, for one, feel lighter....

Mirrors

From Each Day A New Beginning, February 11:  “’It’s odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don’t quite fully share the hell of someone close to you.’ ~Lady Bird Johnson Preoccupation with self can be the bane of our existence. It prevents all but the narrowest perspective on any problem. It cuts off any guidance…that may be offered through a friend…When we open our minds to fresh input from others, insights emerge. We need the messages others are trying to give us.”   An end to my isolation. Opening my mind and heart to what others offer me. For many years, I closed myself off from these offerings. I was busy with my life, self-sufficient…but unhappy. I was pretty bewildered about that—yet resigned to it. Then—for the worst possible reason—I joined a recovery program that provided tools to help me climb out of my self-imposed misery. There are many new attitudes that I have adopted over time. But the most critical, I think, has been taking the risk to open myself to others and learn about myself using others’ perspectives to add balance to my own. I’m not afraid of mirrors anymore. I’ve had to let go of years of denial and preconceived notions about myself. I’ve had to learn how to be honest. And in doing that, I have discovered my own humanity. I am not unique but part of a fellowship of equals who share a common bond. No longer alone or lonely, I’m learning how to accept life on life’s terms…and be...