marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Breathing Lessons

From Each Day A New Beginning, September 16: “When working the steps we are never in doubt about the manner for proceeding in any situation. The steps provide the parameters that secure our growth. They help us to see where we’ve been and push us toward the goals which crowd our dreams.” 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. We are never alone. But there is much division around the topic of addiction. Much of the problem arises from semantics: is addiction an illness that strikes, like cancer, without permission? Or is it a moral failing? That simple question lends itself to hours of discussion; whole books have been written about it; bloggers have exhausted themselves going back and forth in the argument. I used to enthusiastically participate, certain that I was making valid points here and there. It’s the “here and there” that finally derailed me as I was hyperventilating on this fast-moving train of rhetoric. In the final analysis, does it really matter what it is? Getting caught up in all the arguments just kept me from putting my focus where it belonged. I needed to get back to self-care. And stepping back. And taking a breath. How we navigate our lives together on that ship is as varied as the shells in the ocean. Twelve-Step work has a lot in common with many other forms of spiritual recovery, some of...

Remembering Angie

Today is my daughter’s 40th birthday. She made this tapestry for me after her first rehab. She was always interested in Oriental art and designs. I think the simplicity fascinated her. For a long time I couldn’t look at it. In my early recovery, I was still wedded to the “If onlys.” But over time, I’ve learned to let go of “might have beens” and accept what is. I hang the tapestry proudly on my wall now. It’s one of many of my happy memories of her. I had twenty-one years with her as my daughter before addiction hijacked and transformed her. I’m grateful for the good years I had with my daughter. I love...

Laughter is Contagious

From Hope for Today, April 6: “I also used humor as a manipulative tool to get people to like me. …My sense of humor wasn’t spontaneous or appropriate. I used it to please people. When no one was around to please, however, I was miserable… Today my sense of humor is a natural reflection of who I am. I experience the world through smiles and laughter rather than through bitter smirks. I share joy with others rather than seek company for my misery. I help others heal rather than attack them. I allow my sense of humor to unfold naturally, just the way it was meant, and I watch the wonderful results as my Higher Power works through me toward a higher...

Life goes On, And We With It

“The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence.” ~Sue Atchley Ebaugh Happy New Year to my grandchildren. If ever there were a reminder of grace, it’s in the face and voices of my son’s children. “We love you, Bela!” May the new year continue to teach me that focusing on one’s blessings is the best way to live well....

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...