By: Marilea Rabasa
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: June 2020
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Marilea C. Rabasa shares her personal journey of addiction, loss and transformation in her memoir, Stepping Stones.
The carefully kept secrets, stored in the equally hidden baggage from the past are the perfect formula for an eventual awakening. Marilea Rabasa spent her adolescence growing up in post WWII Massachusetts. Her family was the dream of comfort and normalcy in what was once recognized as middle class. She had opportunities afforded her and willingly accepted them. However, certain secrets were to remain protected and that nuance and existence of generational alcoholism must be carefully closeted and confined to familial knowledge only.
Her long and arduous journey toward healing and clarity begins when Marilea’s mother passes. This is not to say it was a relief she lost her mother. Rather, it is a time for her to begin the process of reflection and understanding of her past that reaches back to a childhood filled with unhappiness. Marilea strategically breaks down her life through a series of personal acknowledgement of what transpired, how her conflicts evolved and an awakening of sorts toward embracing what a balanced life could be. She methodically breaks her story down into three distinct milestones: recognition, navigating through the hurt and breaking down the many walls and roadblocks that had been constructed through years of not so much denial, but pain to push through. Only then could the euphoria of hope be seen on her horizon.
I applaud Marilea with her strength and fortitude to have the courage to take inventory of all that was wrong in her life and learn to heal from it. There is a sublime tone and nuance throughout this read that suggests often the pain certainly outweighed the comfort. Yet, through descriptive passages her willingness and desire to heal resonates throughout. She is graphic with the strained relationship she had with her mother growing up. It is when the uncanny similarities presented again when she became a mother to her daughter, she realized change happens when one commits to change. She was quite prolific in describing the relationship and how uncanny it was that ‘history was repeating itself’. There is a poignant moment in her chapter titled ‘Crossroads’ where she states: ‘It’s hard to see which of the many turning points in my life was the most important. I usually avoided the more difficult paths. Many times, I made choices that were easy: the pill to feel better, the food in my mouth, the isolation that dwarfed and limited me, the subservience to my husband. But the juncture that changed my life forever occurred during the three years we were living in Greece...’ Marilea had many demons to address and overcome, but the aforementioned passage is literally at the halfway mark in the book which makes it the pinnacle and turning point to the entire memoir. I applaud Marilea Rabasa for delivering such a profound and real experience of her life and its challenges and, in the end, the victory of recognizing the sorrows, some joys and ultimately arriving in a place where she has gifted herself with true peace and tranquility. Bravo Ms. Rabasa. Excellent read!
Quill says: Stepping Stones is a memoir that depicts the essence of its title throughout the entire read in that life, after all, truly is a series of ‘steppingstones.’