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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

On the Spotlight: 'Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation,' by Marilea C. Rabasa



Marilea C. Rabasa is a retired high school teacher who moved west from Virginia eleven years ago. Before that, she traveled around the world with her former husband in the Foreign Service. She has been published in a variety of publications. Writing as Maggie C. Romero, Rabasa won the International Book Award, was named a finalist in both the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the USA Best Book Awards, and earned an honorable mention in The Great Southwest Book Festival, for her 2014 release, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.  She lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a number of years and now resides in Camano Island, Washington. Visit her online at:  www.recoveryofthespirit.com 



                                                   About the Book

Addiction is a stealth predator. Unrecognized, it will grow and flourish. Unchecked, it destroys.

Marilea grew up in post-WWII Massachusetts in a family that lived comfortably and offered her every advantage. But there were closely guarded family secrets. Alcoholism reached back through several generations, and it was not openly discussed. Shame and stigma perpetuated the silence. Marilea became part of this ongoing tragedy.

Her story opens with the death of her mother. Though not an alcoholic, it is her inability to cope with the dysfunction in her life that sets her daughter up for a multitude of problems.

We follow Marilea from an unhappy childhood, to her life overseas in the diplomatic service, to now, living on an island in Puget Sound. What happens in the intervening years is a compelling tale of travel, motherhood, addiction, and heartbreaking loss. The constant thread throughout this story is the many faces and forms of addiction, stalking her like an obsessed lover, and with similar rewards. What, if anything, will free her of the masks she has worn all her life?

Read Marilea’s inspiring recovery story and learn how she wrestles with the demons that have plagued her.


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EXCERPT


Going Back
    Look back without staring.  

 

Three years ago I kept my promise to Eleni and went back to Greece for the third time. Gene anxiously awaited his visit to Santorini, one of Greece’s volcanic islands in the Mediterranean and a geologic wonder. We landed in Athens at the end of September.

My friend had read in letters about the love of my life for more than two decades, and I daresay her mouth was watering; she was just dying to meet him. Eleni’s memories of me, still buxom and lineless in early middle age, didn’t match the reality when we saw each other. And her fantasies of Gene from many years before were better than the man who stood in front of her. Gravity does the worst damage to women, but it affects men as well, lining the pockets of plastic surgeons all over the world.

Eleni herself, her face deeply lined from years of sun damage and smoking, is a beautiful example of European women and their unapologetic attitude about age. Good for you Eleni, you can celebrate all that you are without the artifice of makeup or plastic surgery. I wish I had your self-confidence!

Nineteen years is a long time. But feeling the warmth of her embrace and seeing her affirmation as our eyes locked onto each other, I felt as if no time had passed.

Together we stood in front of my old house in Politia, where I’d lived with my family thirty years before. And together we cried, the memories suddenly flooding and overwhelming us.

That house at 17 Pallados is dwarfed now by tall cypress trees along the sides. I had to peer through them at the whitewashed stucco balcony where my girls used to play and remembered Annie practicing gymnastics there with her best friend. The two-car driveway was still enclosed by locked gates, the first-story windows still barred.

The number 17 was hidden behind the overhanging branch of an orange tree, and buildings surrounded and overshadowed the house.

 That evening after Gene had gone to bed, Eleni and I strolled into the plaza for a treat and sat down in an outdoor café.

“Two ice creams,” my friend ordered. Then she turned to me. “Ti thelis, mana mou?

“Vanilla, thanks,” I said, then added, “with chocolate syrup.”

“I’ll have strawberry,” she told the server as he scribbled our orders, “but mine with whipped cream.”

            I had waited to tell her in person about Annie, and when I did, my eyes tearing up, she shed no tears but said matter-of-factly as though she’d been in the recovery rooms for years, Marilea, you cannot help her if she doesn’t want help. Let her go. Concentrate on your other children and grandchildren.”

            “Yes, you’re right, Eleni. I’ve spent fifteen years learning what you just told me in one minute.”

            “Bravo, Marilea,” she concluded, taking my hand.

            And timing is everything in life.

            It wasn’t until that moment that I could accept what she told me—without resistance.

            We never spoke of Annie again.

            The next day before we drove up to her beach house in Volos, I lit a candle for my daughter in the Greek Orthodox church nearby and prayed that she’d find peace—in this life or the next.

            And I let her go.

            During those three weeks that Gene and I spent in Greece—that redemptive journey—it all came back to me in waves: the pounding surf of grief in my heart, not just for Annie but for all the ignorance that had held me down and kept me from the light.

            But I’m still here. I can laugh till my belly aches.

            I’ve stopped chasing the butterfly.

 

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