marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Just Love Them

J From Hope for Today, April 1: “Growing up in an alcoholic home gave me ample preparation to become a perfectionist. Almost nothing I did as a youth was ever right. Inside I felt rage at never meeting my parents’ expectations. I promised myself I would do things differently. By the time I reached my thirties, however, I could hear my parents’ critical voices speaking through me. I knew I was using the same words spoken to me.” I could have written that myself. And I’m so grateful for the awareness I’ve picked up from my years of recovery. In the early years of my daughter Angie’s addiction, I was oppressive in my attempts to get her to “buckle under and shape up.” What? Would I use those words if she had cancer or any other disease? I got quite an education in the rooms of recovery, first of all in accepting that drug addiction is a brain disease. The American Medical Association has been saying that since the 1950’s, but who was listening?  With that awareness, there was no room in my heart for judgment  or criticism. Only compassion, understanding, and love. Now, if I have any interaction with Angie, all that I say or do springs from the heart of a mother. I love my child. Some things are beautiful in their...

Freeing Our Children

F “Angie told me once that that’s why she hated NA meetings: often in attendance were drug addicts not in recovery, people she needed to avoid. But in her case I don’t think that’s true. I think she didn’t go to meetings because she needed to deal with her addiction her way, and not be told by anyone else what to do: CSR—compulsively self-reliant—just like her mother. Or maybe she just wasn’t ready to embrace recovery at all, a painful possibility I had not yet considered. I was still determined, at that point, to believe that she was going to beat her addiction and that I, of course, would be the glorious savior she would spend the rest of her life thanking, handing me my redemption on a silver platter. I would finally, thank God, let go of the oppressive burden I was placing on my daughter by demanding she get well so that I could be OK. My mother unconsciously did the same thing with her children: she was a demanding perfectionist, beating back the pain of self-doubt and unworthiness by raising “successful” children. I’m very glad to have found recovery from my dysfunctional upbringing. It has helped to  “relieve me of the bondage of self” (Anonymous Press 63). And most importantly, most importantly of all, my recovery has freed my children.” You can find my book, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym) on...

No Casseroles

NAddiction is a terrible thief, stealing Angie away from us in the night. She had her whole life ahead of her. There’s still so much shame and stigma in this country around it. Some people think it’s caused by bad parenting. Others say it’s a moral failure. Many believe it’s a choice. Are they kidding? Who is their right mind would choose to stick a needle in his arm and live in the gutter like a wild animal? If my daughter had cancer, friends and family would express sympathy, put their arms around me and ask if they could help. Not so when it’s addiction. Many people look the other way, afraid to mention it. They’re not judging, necessarily; just keeping their distance.  It’s the modern...

Darkness And Light

From Courage to Change, November 27: “’When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.’ ~Charles A. Beard       Though I once viewed my life with tragedy, I now have a different perspective on those experiences. I know that I am a stronger person as a result of what I’ve been through. Those of us who love addicts have been sorely tested. But it’s what I’ve come away with that makes my life in recovery worthwhile: kindness, compassion, and understanding. Now I can discern the...

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...