marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Our Footprints

From Each Day A New Beginning, December 20: “’Somewhere along the line of development we discover what we really are, and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible. Make that decision primarily for yourself because you can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your own child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you become yourself.’ ~Eleanor Roosevelt” Through my recovery work, I’m learning to take better care of myself. I’m making wiser choices, living better, and embracing my life. Firm boundaries, healthy perspectives, daily gratitude are just a few of the tools that help me live well. In this way I’m trying to be a good example to those who come after me. We all leave footprints somewhere. We have stories to tell. We all leave a...

Reflections From Yesterday

From Each Day A New Beginning, January 24: “’I look in the mirror through the eyes of the child that was me.’ ~Judy Collins My Adult Child Judy wrote a wonderful memoir called Sanity and Grace, about losing her son to suicide and almost losing herself to alcoholism. She is an adult child because she grew up with the disease. Her story is similar to my story. And as the mother of an addict, my own history played too heavy a role in how I reacted to my daughter Angie’s illness. I was certain that she got her addiction from me and I felt overly responsible. That put me at risk and caused me to move boundaries over and over. I lost my way as her mother. Fortunately I learned in my recovery that her addiction isn’t my fault. “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.” If we say that often enough and start to believe it—like a mantra— we can let go of any guilt that may be weighing us down. We already have enough heartache to deal...

“Look Back Without Staring”

From Hope for Today, September 13: “Never underestimate the power of self-awareness to put past experience into a new perspective…Until we take the time to look at ourselves honestly. we may never be free of the bondage in which alcoholism holds us captive.” As the mother of an addict, I was focused completely on my daughter Angie and her problems. In the beginning of her addiction, I failed to see that how I handled the chaos in my home might have more to do with me than with her. I didn’t realize what a powder keg my past was bringing to an already explosive situation. My own history of substance abuse played a big role in my reactions. Whoever said “Blame is for God and small children” forgot about me. I thought Angie’s illness was my fault. I burdened myself with guilt and an inflated sense of responsibility, and that burden crippled me when dealing with the consequences of her bad choices. I often lost my own moral compass, the one I raised her to follow. That guilt put at risk all the healthy boundaries I had set in place with all of my children. I became lost. Much of my behavior was a misguided attempt to protect my daughter. I became overprotective, and shielded her from the logical consequences of many choices that might have taught her some valuable life lessons. I did step up and put her through four rehabs. I was happy to do that and so hopeful. But after she got out and relapsed every time, I fell back into old patterns. I didn’t see...

Darkness and Light

From “The Forum,” December, 2016: “When I’m taking that long walk down that dark hallway, I might as well keep going. It’s just as hard if I turn around, and then where have I gotten?”   There’s no going around it; you have to walk through the pain to get to the other side. Addiction is a family illness and it affects all family members, not just the addict. There’s sadness, guilt, an inflated sense of responsibility, not to mention shame and secrecy. I’ve spent years learning how to cope with the reality of my daughter’s drug addiction. But I’m glad I stuck around long enough to get to the other side. I didn’t want to such a cruel disease to destroy another victim. We can all fight the stigma that tears so many families apart.  ...

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.      ...

With My Eye On The Ball

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength.”  ~A.J. Cronin   Living in the present moment takes a lot of discipline. To never think about the past? The parts we can’t seem to let go of: our remorse, guilt over things we can’t undo now? We have happy memories, too, but the bad ones often pop up like weeds. And never look ahead to tomorrow? We have hopes and dreams, fantasies. Sometimes our fears push us to project in negative ways. And that’s just wasteful, though I always rationalize that it’s preparing myself for the worst. But placing all of my attention on what’s happening right now, without distracting myself with other times, gives me a chance to maximize each moment I’m experiencing. Time is a valuable commodity, and I want to make the most of mine. Watching my daughter and all other addicts lose themselves in the hellish world of addiction has been a powerful object lesson for me. I’m learning to appreciate the gifts of time and appreciate what’s right in front of me. “Just for today,” I will do the best I can with what I’ve got....