marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

“Let Go And Let God”

“In Al-Anon, letting go and letting God means exchanging the finite, narrow limitations of our own self-will for the infinite wisdom of our Higher Power. We turn our lives over to the Higher Power’s care, confident that in God’s time, solutions to our problems and relief from our pain will come to us. The lily symbolized this slogan and was inspired by the biblical passage that tells us: ‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.’ By making the Twelve Steps a part of our lives, learning to trust God’s will, and practicing program principles in all our affairs, we continually renew our faith and achieve our own special beauty as our serenity grows.” My life is so much simpler when I let go of things and people I can’t control and turn the struggle over. What had been weighing me down is lifted from my shoulders and I feel lighter, more at peace. This frees me to live my life better, unencumbered by negative thoughts for which I have no solutions. Life can still be good for us; it’s all a matter of...

Finding The Courage To Change

“Sixth Step Prayer: Dear God, I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.” This is the step that separates the men from the boys. Four and Five ask us to look at our defects and share them with someone else. But we still need to find the willingness to remove our defects of character. You’d be surprised how many of us cling to our faults, including me. They often serve a purpose, sometimes twisted or mysterious. The pain from our defects is at least familiar to us, and removing them can be unsettling. Step Six is about readiness, willingness. My partner and I have a farm. We till the soil, add fertilizers, coffee grounds. We ready the earth for growing in the spring. That’s what Steps 4-6 do. They ready us for a kind of personal revolution, a change in ourselves. Change is very hard work. We are what we are for a reason. And letting go of our faults, which serve some function, can be hard. But I ask myself as I prepare to take this step if I need these defects anymore. Do I need them to be happy? No! Do I want to be happier? Yes! Then it’s time to shed some of my self-protective armor. It might be that glass (or six) of wine at the end of the day. It might be our stubbornness, our need to be right all the time....

Taking (My Own) Inventory

“Fourth Step Prayer: Dear God, It is I who has made my life a mess. I have done it, but I cannot undo it. My mistakes are mine and I will begin a searching and fearless moral inventory. I will write down my wrongs, but I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete the task.” When I joined Al-Anon fifteen years ago, I was miserable and desperate to save my daughter from self-destructing. But I was also guilt-ridden and felt overly responsible for the mess her life was in. Because I was inclined at that point to be overly hard on myself, I did not take this step properly. I focused exclusively on my defects and ignored my strengths. If I had had a program sponsor I would have received the proper guidance. But it took a very long time for this CSR (compulsively self-reliant) Al-Anon to admit she needed help in getting help. “My way or the highway…” Uh, huh, no wonder I was getting nowhere. Fortunately I did finally start to get it and come out of my isolation. It’s been a miraculous journey ever since. What I love about this step is the inherent balance and demand for honesty. There are few shortcuts to telling the truth. We can hide and distort and rationalize all we want. But brown eyes are brown, no matter how much we want them to be blue. Facing ourselves in the mirror on a regular basis takes discipline. But for me it’s been the best way to change and grow. As I continue to...

The Boomerang Of Enabling

A few years ago in one of my support groups in New Mexico, a friend shared how she had to lock everything up in her house. She’d lock the jewelry here, the silver there. She had a different key for every place, and one time she was so flummoxed by her son that she lost all the keys! We laughed together at that one, grateful that we still could laugh. This is what it comes to for many of us parents. We erect walls to protect ourselves, keeping the addicts out. And then, of course, we feel guilty about doing that. My daughter Angie used to steal valuables from my home in order to sell them for drug money. It was safer, she thought, to steal from me than from a store. She already knew what an enabler I was; but she was still a thief. And even though her addiction pushed her onto the wrong path, she still should have paid the consequences if she was going to learn and mature. But I let her get away with it.  I deeply regret that. They will work us, manipulate us, and use every tool in their arsenal to get what they want if they’re still using. Parents are so vulnerable, and they’re walking a fine line between helping their child recover, and enabling them to continue using. We learn eventually to sit frozen in inaction, to do nothing.  We learn to let our addicts be accountable for their own actions, and hopefully learn from the consequences: eviction, jail, or death. But it’s that last consequence that holds us hostage,...

Let Go…And Strive To Be Happy Yourself

“Third Step Prayer: God, I offer myself to thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy power, Thy love and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always!” My willfulness has always been my Waterloo. But I never saw it as a bad thing. I saw it as strength, determination, and power—the opposite of weakness. But I’ve had to modify my will and determination to save Angie. After years of using my strong will and stubbornness to fight a battle that wasn’t mine to fight,  I’ve learned to let go. From well-meaning friends over the years, I’ve heard these comments: “But how can you drop the ball like that? How can you give up on your own child? She’ll think you don’t love her anymore! How can you be so cruel?” Those people need to walk a mile or two in my shoes. The cruelty belongs to the Monster (if it had an appearance), the brain disease, that is claiming millions of our children. After years of educating myself about the nature of addiction, I have settled on my own path to recover from the effects of this illness. I have  no more power to cure Angie of her addiction than I would have if she had schizophrenia. Drug addiction and co-existing mental illness is very common, and there are many treatments out there. My daughter suffered from depression for...