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Amends to a family member who is also probably an alcoholic?

Old 07-06-2017, 03:18 AM
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Amends to a family member who is also probably an alcoholic?

So, recently my younger sister was home. She drinks. A LOT. I observe in her many patterns that are similar to my own history. She always reeks of alcohol - either recently-imbibed or metabolizing out.

She talks of alcohol, and of drugs. She behaves oddly. She is frequently drinking, on her way to go drinking, or coming back from drinking. She's 26 - and most of her closest friends are right on board with her.

We were out at a dinner for her birthday, and she became obnoxiously drunk. Her behavior was awkward for all in attendance - including her own drunken friends toward the end.

Later that night, my stepson told me she'd made comments to him indicating her resentment that I had quit drinking and then "just moved on with my life like nothing happened". His takeaway was that she feels I'm supposed to "talk about it with his family". Meaning, I suppose, her.

She's made resentful comments toward me in the past as well - usually when drinking. I know she feels somehow owed something. I know there were times (when both of us had been drinking) that we'd gotten into confrontations. But I honestly don't know WHAT amends it is I may owe her. I don't have her on my list of people wronged. I don't know how or where I wronged her......

So I'm confused about how to approach this. I feel a little frustrated that any time I've tried to have a meaningful conversation with her about our life or family, it's been a little strained. She's young - in body and mind. She's actively engaged in heavy drinking and drugging. And in that state - I know from experience it's difficult to have meaningful connection and conversation about... well, anything.

I'm inclined to just let it sit. I feel like there will come a time for our connection and our healing whatever it is between us that's broken. But I don't know if I'm just using that as an excuse not to act.

Anyway - this is a little bit of a ramble but also am wondering about others' experience in situations where one's sobriety journey necessarily involves a family member who is also clearly struggling with addiction.

Thanks
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:20 AM
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Have you worked through step 7 yet?
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:26 AM
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yes and no.

I've 7th stepped some things....

But am also 'stuck' on the 4th step with some things....

As my years of sobriety have passed, I've continually discovered new things I need to work.

That said - I've asked my higher power to remove my faults..... as I've discovered them.

Humility may be part of my personal issue here - but I feel like it's less about humility than about;

1 - how to approach amends when I don't even know what the hell it is I've done.

2 - how to approach amends when the person in question has been difficult to approach when her own addiction is in control.

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Old 07-06-2017, 04:31 AM
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Are you working with a sponsor? i know mine was instrumental when I had questions like these (or whatever mine were).

Bottom line is that my side of the street is all I can control. Your #2....I have found that with some people (and I don't have a close family member in this category) I need to just...WAIT. And let my HP guide me to when and how the right amends can be attempted.

Take care.
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:39 AM
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Maybe she knows she has a problem and sees how you have freed yourself of yours and she's wanting you to reach out to her with a solution? You are her big brother.
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Old 07-06-2017, 05:15 AM
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My own experience with my drinking sib is that he doesn't want to stop drinking.
Never has.
He had a period of forced sobriety when we wouldn't let him live with my mother, and he lived in a sober house.
It was sad, in that during this time he looked and seemed healthy for the first time in years.
So much so that we agreed to let him move back in with mom, which is what she wanted, in a big way.
Big mistake.
Within a year he was drinking again.
Now it's game on, practically 24/7.
He resents me and my other sib as well. Not sure why.
As a result, I speak to him as little as possible.
I have wished we had a better relationship, but I know that isn't going to happen, now, and probably not ever.
It is what it is.
I too can't see why you should make amends to your sister, nor do I feel you can help someone who doesn't want the help.
Maybe someday.
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Old 07-06-2017, 05:48 AM
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is she on your 4th step resentment list?

sometimes there are no amends to make.

Freeowl, it reads like yer just jumpin around here and there in the steps?
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Old 07-06-2017, 05:57 AM
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Have explicitly asked her if she feels you wronged her? Have you explicitly told her that you think she is upset with you for some reason and you want to know why so that your relationship can be better?

A lot of times family members do not come out and say directly what is on their mind.

If you have brought this up explicitly, and she still will not talk to you about it, there really is nothing else you can do.
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Old 07-06-2017, 06:09 AM
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Originally Posted by tomsteve View Post
is she on your 4th step resentment list?

sometimes there are no amends to make.

Freeowl, it reads like yer just jumpin around here and there in the steps?
she wasn't on my 4th step list. I need to try and figure out what her issue is and why she maybe should be on the list.

yes. I have taken the steps in a different-than-'normal' fashion.

I know that's not what I'm 'supposed' to do - but it's what's working for me.
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Old 07-06-2017, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by miamifella View Post
Have explicitly asked her if she feels you wronged her? Have you explicitly told her that you think she is upset with you for some reason and you want to know why so that your relationship can be better?

A lot of times family members do not come out and say directly what is on their mind.

If you have brought this up explicitly, and she still will not talk to you about it, there really is nothing else you can do.
Not with regard to alcohol or whatever it is that caused her to say what she said. She may not even remember it. She may not be willing or able to identify it in her sober moments.

I've asked her in the past what it is that she seems to carry anger toward me about. She's told me she would 'never forgive' me for not being there for her in life. She was born when I was 19, off on my own, living in Germany in the Army. The course of our lives was such that I wasn't able to be around for her much. I know she resents that. But, this was specifically about 'my drinking problem'....... so I don't know what it's all about. Could be something there. Could be she was sort of using me as a distraction tactic. Aiming resentment at my sobriety and my former drinking to refocus attention from her own obvious drinking issues. I don't know. I don't know if it'll be productive to ask. But I will try.

Just looking for sharing of others' experiences.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:17 AM
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It sounds like you two are in need a conversation. She may be able to verbalize what happened and why she feels the way she does. Are you willing to take some time and see if she will go for a walk or dinner with you? Ask the real questions and get down to what the problems are? Ask her to meet with you and that you need to talk and you would like for her to be sober when this does take place.
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:00 AM
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My experience is my loved ones were deeply effected by my alcoholism in many ways - the ripples on the pond analogy. I had to really look at that, humbly. It is very painful and I take responsibility for some of their shortcomings which I obviously can't fix.

I also attend al-anon for a couple people near to me.

From there, I remain available with boundaries and let others know I love them, but hate addictions - including my own.

A primary amends I stay engaged with is allowing others to be wrong today without unsettling me. Also, letting those who are spiritually sick know there is a solution. I remain available and know that in the valley is where I found help. Pain is truth and isn't necessarily bad. Pride makes me feel I need to do something, cause that's just how good I am.

These things allow me to keep things cleaned up daily with the 10th step.
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Old 07-06-2017, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sugarbear1 View Post
Have you worked through step 7 yet?
I have a question about these steps. I googled them and read through the 12 steps from AA. As an Atheist, it's kind of difficult for me to think along those lines. I'm sure I'm not the only one to wonder about this. Is there a step program without all the religious aspects?
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by FreeOwl View Post
Not with regard to alcohol or whatever it is that caused her to say what she said. She may not even remember it. She may not be willing or able to identify it in her sober moments.

I've asked her in the past what it is that she seems to carry anger toward me about. She's told me she would 'never forgive' me for not being there for her in life. She was born when I was 19, off on my own, living in Germany in the Army. The course of our lives was such that I wasn't able to be around for her much. I know she resents that. But, this was specifically about 'my drinking problem'....... so I don't know what it's all about. Could be something there. Could be she was sort of using me as a distraction tactic. Aiming resentment at my sobriety and my former drinking to refocus attention from her own obvious drinking issues. I don't know. I don't know if it'll be productive to ask. But I will try.

Just looking for sharing of others' experiences.
It seems that a lot of people in active addiction feel like the world owes them something. That someone else is responsible for their problems. Maybe when you were both active, she felt ok but when you had the nerve to better yourself, she put the blame on you. I think it's worth a conversation, but it sounds like it's her problem, not yours.
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:03 AM
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To me it sounds like she is jealous that you were able to quit and move on with your life, as she'd probably like to. But she is 26 and has friends that party and so she still finds this lifestyle appealing, so she's not ready to quit.

Hopefully she will get there in time, at which point, as she starts her recovery and healing process, she will begin to understand why other people in her life who were alcoholics behaved in certain ways and she will hopefully be able to work on forgiving them.. And if that healing includes having a conversation with you about events of the past, then you will be able to do that with compassion and understand, if and when she is sober.. which I would guess you shouldn't hold your breath for at this time.

Please, don't worry yourself sick about getting her to forgive you. In the state of mind she's in, it might fall on deaf ears anyway. She's focusing on these resentment areas because that's what alcoholics do, and also because she wants to. When she wants to forgive you, she will. When she wants to quit, she will. As we know, other people have no control over this time table.

Continue to make amends by staying sober and being a good sibling, spouse, friend, parent, etc. So that when family need you, they feel they can rely on you. (I'm sure they can)
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:11 AM
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I think applewakesup hit the nail on the head. I'm not sure I'd even bother trying to make an amends with a sibling who is still a very active alcoholic. The thinking is so distorted even in the sober moments that it may actually open a can of worms and make things worse. Talk to your sponor if you have one. If it were me, I'd leave it alone and wait until she's healthy enough mentally and emotionally to be receptive to an amends. Just my two cents.
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Old 07-06-2017, 11:19 AM
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I have not read all the replies, but I think maybe letting this issue "rest" for now is the right course of action. She's 26, drinks and drugs and her social circle does as well. This is their normal. I doubt anything you say will have much of an effect. Now, if she suffers some consequences in the near future, she might be more open to some friendly family advice.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:15 PM
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thanks for all your input.... all valid thoughts and all appreciated.

I've sat with this a while. I think I'm going with the 'do nothing' approach for now.

Based on my numerous failed efforts to genuinely connect with her in the past, her generally-childish behavior toward me on several occasions, I don't feel like even attempting to sincerely inquire is likely to be productive.

I also feel like the fact that she revealed her drunken opinion to my sixteen year old stepson - and not to me - is another indication of the likelihood of any progress in understanding or addressing her issues.

If I actually had a direct amends that I'd identified - that'd be different. But with my sister, we've really had so few occasions to be together in life, the impact to her of my drinking was very limited. I'm sure there are some things she's carrying that I can't recall, never realized, don't understand..... but I'm unable to identify them. If she could help me identify them by really communicating with me - that could be helpful. But, then what? How do I make amends to a person whose own use and addiction patterns will limit her ability to accept an amends?

It feels like the whole thing just needs to sit and wait until it comes out. Until she communicates directly TO ME what it is that she's carrying around. In the meantime, I will try to bring up the subject of my drinking years if the situation arises where we are together and she's sober and it seems like the timing is amenable to a genuine conversation.

I think back to my own life at that stage; late twenties, still mostly holding things together, not a shred of a belief that I had a problem, generally-unable to look at my own part in creating situations between people, myopic in my addiction - and I can't see how we'd make any real progress.

Again, thank you all for taking the time to give me your thoughts.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mayeve View Post
I have a question about these steps. I googled them and read through the 12 steps from AA. As an Atheist, it's kind of difficult for me to think along those lines. I'm sure I'm not the only one to wonder about this. Is there a step program without all the religious aspects?
yes, mayeve, and if you go farther down the list of forums, you will find a section for secular 12-steps.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:41 PM
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FreeOwl,
just a couple of thoughts:
it is not necessary or always possible to figure out or have an idea of what her issues are, and i don't see that entering into the amends-process, since that is about amending your part.
since you do not know your part but can see that she is resentful/ distressed/upset/ angry/whatever, you cannot make a direct amend when you do not know the harm you caused or if, indeed, it was you who caused anything, but you could possibly,if you wanted, follow miamifellows suggestion to ask directly.
another thought is that possibly your part in any of it was simply that you did not make the effort o have a closer relationship?

personally, i do not see that whether a person has a drinking issue or any kind of issue has anything to do with whether i make amends or not. Irrelevant. if i have harmed them, i owe amend.

just from reading and trying to imagine being in your shoes, i'd mention to her that she seems upset with me a lot and i'd like us to be able to chat about it and could she tell me what i have done and i'd like to hear about it and make amends if i have caused her harm.
I'd take that route if i were willing to hear.
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