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Fear vs. Faith

From Each Day A New Beginning, September 27: “’The wisdom of all ages and cultures emphasizes the tremendous power our thoughts have over our character and circumstances.’  ~Liane Cordes We are gifted with the personal power to make thoughtful choices…Our minds work powerfully for our good. And just as powerfully to our detriment, when fears intrude on all our thoughts…My outlook and attitude toward life reveals the strength of my connection to God.”   I’ve read that fear and anxiety are at the base of many addictions. I can’t speak for all of them, or for everyone, but I can speak for myself. Fear precipitated every single addiction I’ve been subject to. And it was fear that kept me addicted to my daughter Angie. Fear for her well-being—and for mine. Letting go of my obsession and fear—replacing them both with faith—has brought peace into my...

Voices Of Recovery

From Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, p. 3 “Alcoholism robbed me of who I was, caused injury to my daughter, and almost completely destroyed my best friend. It took bits and pieces of us all during those first six years. Those were tremendous losses that took a long time to work through. My grief was immense. I felt inconsolable.” That is exactly how I felt when I entered the rooms of recovery. I was broken and at the same time I was crippled with guilt. That put me at high risk for enforcing the boundaries I should have been recognizing. I was completely lost and overwhelmed with the reality of Angie becoming a drug addict. In the beginning I couldn’t be tough with her; I simply defaulted to rescue mode. I wanted to protect her, but in so doing I was shielding her from the natural consequences of her bad choices. So she learned nothing and the behaviors continued. Like it said in the quote, the disease robbed me of who I was. Once upon a time, I was a more responsible parent. But this frightening disease caused me to lose my compass and I lost my way. Fortunately, over the years I listened to the voices of recovery around me and I started changing my behavior. My sense of right and wrong returned and I was able to set boundaries in order to protect myself. As we all know, when an addict is using there is great potential for abuse. I had to be armed, all the while loving my daughter deeply. There’s nothing harder than watching...

“First Things First”

Priorities. We all have them. And we all have different ones. Mine involve taking care of myself first. I’ve found out, by tough trial and error, that if I don’t, everything else falls by the wayside. Just one example: if I don’t eat well, or get enough sleep, and I get sick, who’s going to mind the store? It’s the old oxygen mask analogy. If I don’t keep myself alive, who’s going to keep the kids alive? Self-care is not selfish. It’s good common sense. Because everyone...

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...

Emotional Calisthenics

  From Hope for Today, August 20: “The more I feel my smallness and powerlessness, the more I grow in spirituality.”   There’s a lot of wisdom in that short sentence. And it has everything to do with turning our will over to a Higher Power. It’s about letting go of our ego more and becoming right-sized. This is hard work, because catering to our ego is part of what makes us human. We are all at times slaves to our will and desires, but living with an addicted child in the family all these years, I’ve learned how my will can distort reality. Turning myself into a pretzel was destroying me. I’ve learned to accept what I cannot change, and allow the peace and serenity of the Spirit to fill me up. I don’t have the power to change my daughter, though I wish with all my being that I did. So I’m still learning to let go, even after all these years. It’s so very hard; Angie is my child. Life goes on, and there are other voices out there. I’m listening to...

DETACH: Don’t.Even.Think.About.Changing.Him/Her.

“How can I best help the alcoholic? By not interfering when he gets into difficulties. I must detach myself from his shortcomings, neither making up for them nor criticizing them. Let me learn to play my own role, and leave his to him. If he fails in it, the failure is not mine, no matter what others may think or say about it.” One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, pg.29) For mothers of addicts, detachment is one of the hardest tools to use. We are inevitably joined through years of raising, nurturing and loving our children as best we could. And when things go so horribly wrong as they do with drug addiction, it’s only natural to question ourselves and how we raised them. Self-blame is common, as we take on too much responsibility for our child’s illness. I myself overcompensated where I shouldn’t have. I felt guilty and that guilt crippled my judgment. I became an enabler, and that prevented Angie from learning from the consequences of her (drug-induced) behavior. Thankfully, I’ve had years of recovery work to learn how to detach from the pain of watching my daughter self-destruct. I did send her to several rehabs and hoped that a sound upbringing and family love would turn her life around. But ultimately the choice to recover (or not) is hers alone. I wish I had the power to change her. I wish things were different. But I have two other children who were raised the same way, and they are blessings in my life. I’ve stopped blaming myself, and I’ve learned to accept a situation I...