marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

My Daughter/Myself

Memoir Excerpt:

“Parents of addicts need to remember that addiction is not a choice: who in their right mind would choose to stick a needle in their arm day after day and live in the gutter? It’s an illness, and has been recognized as such by the American Medical Association. Victims of addiction of all forms deserve compassion, and hopefully they will avail themselves of the recovery opportunities out there.

Angie told me once that she hated NA meetings because pimps, dealers, and strung-out junkies just itching for their next high often attended them. 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.” And most importantly, most importantly of all, my recovery has freed my children.”

4 Comments

  1. Beautiful and needed post. Blessings to you and yours. I concede that meetings don’t work for everyone, one family member said the thoughts of going to one makes her want to drink, but for those who do attend, I think there is strength.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Donna. When I was first told to go to an Al-Anon meeting back in 2002, I flatly rejected the idea. But I’m so glad I changed my mind. I got my life back in the rooms. And for someone my age, with more years behind me than ahead of me, I’m happy to make the most of the rest of my life. I’m truly blessed. Hugs to you!

      Reply
  2. ” 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.” …. That is some powerful stuff right there. I’ll be meditating on that for the rest of the day. Well said.

    Reply
    • Cheryl, I said something else that was similar in my memoir, I don’t remember the exact words, something like “If my kids were doing okay then I felt like a good parent. I measured myself against them.” I was completely enmeshed. Well, lots of parents do that, especially if they invest everything of themselves in their children. It’s natural to think that we might be somewhat responsible for a child’s failure. But we’re most certainly not when the issue is illness. Addiction is a disease, and it doesn’t discriminate. This is where detachment comes in, and trying to create a healthy attachment to our child without losing ourselves. It takes a lot of work to separate the child from he addict, but I had to—because I will always love my child.

      Reply

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