marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Spiritual Levitation

From Hope for Today, May 20: “The serenity I am offered in Al-Anon is not an escape from life. Rather it is the power to find peacefulness within life. Al-Anon does not promise me freedom from pain, sorrow, or difficult situations. It does, however, give me the opportunity to learn from others how to develop the necessary skills for maintaining peace of mind, even when life seems most unbearable… Serenity is not about the end of pain. It’s about my ability to flourish peacefully no matter what life brings my way.”   In the movie, “The Shack,” Mac has a dream and in it he meets God. Mac had recently lost his young daughter, and in his anger and bitterness he lashed out at God. Who else to blame? God (a woman in the movie) came right back at Mac with Her own defense: She didn’t orchestrate all the misery on earth: Aleppo, The Holocaust, children starving in Nigeria. “Don’t blame me for all that,” She said.” My purpose is to help you rise above it.” Al-Anon has the same purpose in my life. God doesn’t have the power to return my daughter Angie to me. But if I continue my daily practice of gratitude, accept what I don’t have the ability to change, and have faith that God’s plan is unfolding for a greater good than I may ever see, I can live peacefully and even joyfully, savoring all the goodness that is in my life. It’s my choice....

The Power Of Speaking

  Deborah Meier said in her book, The Power of Their Ideas, “Teaching is mostly listening, and learning is mostly telling.” I love this because as a former teacher I used to have it turned all around. I got better, fortunately, but then I retired. Now I’m an author and what I’ve learned about myself by writing has filled one book and is about to fill another. I speak a lot, telling my story, mostly at recovery meetings. And when I’m not speaking to other people, I’m speaking to a piece of paper—many pieces of paper. It’s my therapy. It’s how I learn about myself. It’s a constant practice of self-discovery, this discipline of pen to paper. I cross out, revise, change my mind, rephrase things. All this writing and rewriting helps me clarify my thoughts, my understanding of what’s real to me: what’s authentic. It’s how I learn about myself. How I’m learning. Continually. It’s an ongoing process. I find that as I keep growing and changing my writing reflects that as well. There’s nothing static about me or about my writing. And just as the words flow out of my pen onto paper, my recovery continues to flow from my heart to those around me. It’s a real symbiosis, this relationship I have with my pen. It eases the words out of me so that I can share what I’ve learned with others. The rare epiphany I experience is like a volcanic eruption. I had one recently, and writing and rewriting about that has taught me so much about its meaning. But mostly I’m just going with...

Another Perspective

“A Open Letter to My Family (from the drug addict) I am a drug user. I need help. Don’t solve my problems for me. This only makes me lose respect for you. Don’t lecture, moralize, scold, blame, or argue, whether I’m loaded or sober. It may make you feel better, but it will make the situation worse. Don’t accept my promises. The nature of my illness prevents my keeping them, even though I mean them at the time. Promising is only my way of postponing pain. Don’t keep switching agreements; if an agreement is made, stick to it. Don’t lose your temper with me. It will destroy you and any possibility of helping me. Don’t allow your anxiety for me to make you do what I should do for myself. Don’t cover up or spare me the consequences of my using. It may reduce the crisis, but it will make my illness worse. Above all, don’t run away from reality as I do.Drug dependence, my illness, gets worse as my using continues. Start now to learn, to understand, to plan for recovery. Find NAR-ANON, whose groups exist to help the families of drug abusers. I need help: from a doctor, a psychologist, a counselor, from an addict who found recovery in NA, and from God. Your User”   Enmeshment can be crippling: we don’t have enough emotional distance, often, to deal intelligently and effectively with the addict. Stepping back, detaching, takes discipline and restraint. Such a hard thing to do when we’re in this emotional minefield. It has taken me years in my recovery program to act more and...

We’re Not Responsible

“My father made attempts here and there to give up gin and tobacco.  When he had his gall bladder removed the nurses made him cough into a bag, and he was so disgusted with what came up that he stopped smoking for a while. But he never completely set aside his self-destructive behavior. It was like an old friend who reminded him of what he’d often felt as a child from an uncaring, abusive father: “You’re not good enough, not important enough.” As a young man working in the family business, he met and fell in love with my mother, who spent a good part of their marriage echoing his father’s disappointment in him. Where do the seeds of addiction take root? It’s the old chicken and the egg confusion. Was my father predestined to become an alcoholic? Or was he made one by the emotional abuse he endured? And if the latter is true, then how and when was I an emotional abuser of my own daughter? But Twelve-Step recovery gently steers us away from questions like that; we can’t go back and do things over.  And I’m only human. I sometimes ask myself what I did wrong or what I missed seeing. Then I remember that addiction is a disease: “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.” And like a gentle breeze blowing away the clutter of remorse, I let go of those thoughts and embrace my life again, free of responsibility. In any case, whatever she chose to do now, I needed to leave her alone to do it. I...

Alice In Wonderland

“’Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ The Cheshire Cat: ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.’ Alice: ‘I don’t much care where.’ The Cheshire Cat: ‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.’ Alice: …’So long as I get somewhere.’ The Cheshire Cat: ‘Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.’ It’s worth noting here that of the four rehabs Angie has been to this one, the one she herself wanted produced the best results in her. Why? Because she wanted it—as plain and simple as that sounds. She wanted it because for the first time in her disease she felt her life was in danger—not from drugs—but from the life and the people that accompany them. A few years down the road, no longer a stranger to the danger that went with this way of life, three more rehabs would be placed in front of her, like roadblocks: ‘Choose, Angie, do this or die.‘ And to her credit, I suppose, she chose to go where we wanted to send her. ‘Where we wanted to send her.’ That’s why they didn’t work. She wasn’t ready to make that commitment again. She was just Alice tripping from one place to another, when all of a sudden this bulldozer broke through the ceiling and screeched, ‘Angie, come with me. I want to save you!’ And ‘curiouser and curiouser’ she cracked, ‘Oh, what the hell, I need a vacation from all this anyway.’” ~excerpt from my award-winning addiction memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie...

Split Down The Middle

I remember so well my friend tearfully sharing at a meeting last year: “My son is in two parts. I don’t see him anymore. He’s hidden deep inside.” And I remember looking up at Heaven and thanking God for the education I’ve received in the rooms of recovery. My daughter abuses hard drugs, and she’s not the same person anymore. Before I learned that addiction was a brain disease, I didn’t understand the complete change in Angie’s personality. It bewildered and frightened me, if only because she became so abusive that I was afraid for my own safety. So…boundaries…I needed to learn how to set and enforce boundaries, without which none of us can enjoy healthy relationships—with addicts or anyone else. The education I’ve received through the years while living with the addiction of my daughter Angie has provided me with a healthy perspective that I needed to stay strong and persevere. And I have. Maybe not perfectly, but I’m still here and I look forward to getting up every morning. God didn’t create all the misery that we read about in the paper. He didn’t designate me to be the mother of an addict. I haven’t been singled out for this tragedy. His purpose in my life is to help me rise above it. And once my eyes were cleared of the tears blinding me, I was able to see that. I’m very grateful for my ongoing...