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Old 07-10-2019, 10:45 AM   #1 (permalink)

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Sister of the addict

This is a first time visit and post. We are dealing with an almost 40 year old addict in our family, my younger sister. Some brief history: We lost my Mom suddenly 12 years ago who had partially enabled and partially exercised tough love with my sister through the years. My sister is the baby in the family and there are only 3 years between me, our middle brother and her so we grew up close and with the same rules. Great childhood other than constant money trouble (not enough) but lots of love and support in the family.

Things have been up and down throughout the years with some bright years and some low ones. My sister became a bit co-dependent on my Dad and in a way idolizes him on a level that borders unhealthy. She is married to a guy who was pretty nice but lifelong pot head which I think affected his decision making abilities and his intelligence. He started at age 12 and is now 40 and still using pot and other drugs. They have a 10 year old daughter who has witnessed more dysfunction that any child should have to see. She is remarkably resilient and has cousins and my Dad nearby to keep her exposed to healthy relationships and a sense of normalcy.

So now to present day, my sister has been in and out of work (and lying to all of us about this topic) for the last 3 years. prior to this time, she maintained a great job where she received a promotion for about 4-5 years time. Her husband has also been in and out of work and they have not had consistent income. They lost their rental home a year ago and moved into an apartment building which they truly cannot afford. My Dad and I have supplemented their income to pay for the apartment and often for their monthly car payment. I stopped paying the car payment last year after 6 straight months of paying and it got repossessed 2 months later which she also hid from us. $2500 down the drain.

I have my own family and demanding work travel schedule and really have stretched to accommodate helping my sister out during the last 3 years while we are mostly just lied to and only called upon when money is needed.

She and her husband use Adderall and an anti anxiety medication in daily in addition to her husband's illicit drug use. She began going out as an escort recently to make money after she quit a short term job back in April. Her husband continued to not work. He was arrested a couple years ago for stealing medical devices from his job and re-selling them online. And he just was arrested in mid June for domestic violence and drug charges. My sister now wants to start over and get better after being evicted from her apartment for non rent payment 2 weeks ago. She moved into my house 2 hours after eviction while my husband and I were at work and my two kids were home alone (they are 11 and 15). I felt helpless and then resentment kicked in a couple days after she moved in. We had a HUGE family fight over the 4th of July holiday at my house where said she cannot have any negative talk around her. My Dad who is not an addict nor depressed then yelled at me saying if anything happens to her, he cannot go on. I will admit the talking got heated but we are now at a place where she doesn't want to talk about anything except roses and sunshine and not reality. She has moved in with my Dad and his wife and now we have a family rift going on between me and my Dad as we disagree about future plans and candidly he is avoiding talking about this at all.

I am sorry for the long post but need advice from someone who has experienced this. I am sure there is a lot better way that I can be reacting and now with my Dad and I fighting, it is stressing me out too. My husband doesn't want me spending any more money on my sister's problems and my Dad is definitely an enabler who avoids conflict at all cost. Appreciate any advice!

Last edited by SDol; 07-10-2019 at 10:54 AM. Reason: left something out
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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My advise would be this.

Have the niece come live with you if at all possible. That's a toxic situation.

Then, I would not really have anymore to do with it. It's your dad's choice to enable, and nothing you say or do is going to change that. If you want a relationship with your sister, have one on the terms you will not be giving financially under any circumstances.

I am so sorry you are going through this. I am sorry for what brings you here, but glad you are here. I recommend Celebrate Recovery for you, your dad, and if you have one in your area, for niece as well.
"I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn't sorry, and accept an apology I never received
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:06 AM   #3 (permalink)
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ah, don't you sometimes wish YOU could be the screw up and everybody would run themselves ragged fixing everything FOR you? i can be stranded on the side of the road in a snowstorm with my car on fire and still not get any help! LOL

but seriously - your sister is a grown woman. she is not the only person who lost a loved one. at some point that "excuse" no longer works. it could be that your dad sees his helping as a good, loving, caring thing and maybe trying to do what he thinks your mom would have wanted??? taking care of her babies?? i don't know, but it's hard to fault the DESIRE to help.

whereas you saw that any money you sent was not fixing a damn thing, he has yet to draw that conclusion. so he'll get enabling until he runs out of resources, health, or patience.

you can't your sister. you can't change your dad.
life is full of tough choices and not being part of a dysfunctional family system is a BIGGIE. you are allowed to make those choices, regardless of what the others still mired in the dysfunction might think. it won't be easy, but sticking to your boundaries and no longer serving as a RESOURCE to someone who is messing up their life is in YOUR best interest.
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Old 07-14-2019, 04:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Your dad sounds like my dad.

Things became way more easier for me when I let go of "taking care" of my sister and switched my focus on her children instead. My dad has now gotten to the point where he considers my sister mentally ill. I think that switch in framing the situation has helped him make better choices. He realizes that my sister doesn't necessarily have the capacity to make the best choices, but if she were sober, she would understand why we've elected to do what we've needed to do to take care of her kids.

If there is any way to have the kids move in with you, that would help a lot. It doesn't even have to be an "official" declaration. You could just make things "easier" for your sister to live the life that she wants to live. Just picking up the kids back and forth from school can start the ball rolling.

One thing I would recommend for everybody - not just your dad and his wife- is to establish a credit freeze so it makes it difficult for anyone, from hackers to your sister, to steal identities. I had my identity stolen years ago from a complete stranger. It is not fun.
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Old 07-15-2019, 09:22 AM   #5 (permalink)
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My heart goes out to you. I can relate to all you mention - having experienced that kind of insanity in my family over the last 20+ years.

One of the things I figured out after a long and painful battle is that I was attached to having a particular kind of relationship with various members of my family, which was really just a fantasy of harmony I had created in my mind.

When I finally accepted each member of my family for who they are, the motivations that kept them (and me) trapped and accepted my own limitations, I was able to grieve the fact that I will simply not likely be able to achieve that fantasy.

So, maybe the rift is a good thing. If it creates some distance for you to ponder what role you can reasonably have with your family that might help and not hurt (you or them). In that way, you can at least construct relationships based in reality that protects your sanity, not enable them, and do the best you can for your niece.

It is very hard when kids are involved and since the parents are adults you are limited to what you can either reasonably do (have your niece visit, etc.) or the limits of the law (calling children's services, police, etc.).

Having spent a lot of money on my closest addict (my niece ), I came to notice that every time I spent money on some problem of hers, somehow she was able to take every good intention or action and turn it into something destructive. That is the nature of addiction. I did this for 15 years.

At one point (after I had her committed and she got pregnant) I resolved not to repeat the mistakes of the past, and to figure out what a proper role is for me. In that, I can relate to your husband. If spending money has not improved things, obviously, continuing that might not be the best approach.

I have noticed that when addicts are left to their own resources they either figure it out or they don't. I think that is why we continue to enable, we fear the worst - and it does sometimes happen.

In that, we are left with helplessness. Step one of the 12 steps - We admitted we were powerless.

So I might suggest thinking about going to some meetings where other people share your challenge (Alanon, Naranon, CoDA). It is a very sad thing to watch family members self-destruct, others enable and a child struggle. There are things for you to do and things you should not do, and in the insanity of addiction, its hard to discern the difference. Connecting with others who have walked this path can help discernment.

I guess one last thing. My experience is that there are many levels of letting go. Each progressive step of letting go has its challenges and rewards, risks and potential. For me, praying for the knowledge of my Higher Power's will and the power to carry it out made a huge difference. Maybe consider some quiet time to ponder what this situation is asking of you that is different from what you have done in the past or different than what you re-actively want to do.

When I have done this, I found that I was being asked to do some very scary things, but in the end, doing the opposite of what I wanted to do initially made all the difference in a positive way.

Prayers you gain the clarity you need to find some peace in all this.
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