Sunday, July 15, 2007

Help Me To Help Her

Posted by Anonymous.

I am feeling completely helpless with regards to my sister and I just
don't know what to do anymore. When we were growing up, we were very
close. We spent a great deal of time together and had many friends in
common, in spite of our 3.5-year age difference (she is older). but
in her senior year of high school, I began to notice we were drifting

L. - my sister - worked at a nearby restaurant, and one day she told
me that she was sleeping with her boss. I was shocked, because he was
significantly older and engaged to another woman. L. had chosen to
sleep with him because she thought he would "have a lot to teach
[her]," but there was no real affection between them. They were also
reckless about their affair, often having sexual relations in his
office during work. I had no idea where this had come from, but it
proved to be only the beginning.

Over the following years, while she was in college, she drank often
and began smoking pot. She had a series of casual affairs with other
men, and one serious relationship that was extremely unhealthy for
both parties. After college, L. moved to Las Vegas, which I now
consider to be one of the major steps on the road to her current
situation. In the six years since she moved there, she has never held
a job longer than 10 months. Even though she had a college degree,
none of her jobs was good as a long-term career, and none was a
financially great choice, so she wasn't really accumulating savings.
With every job, she would be happy at first, but inevitably she would
begin to complain and look for greener grass somewhere else.

During this time, she was still making terrible relationship choices
as well. She would sleep with married coworkers, uncaring of both the
professional risk and the emotional havoc she was creating in the
lives of others. She continued drinking and smoking pot, often going
on weekend party trips with friends to "drink and hook up." She had a
string of bad boyfriends culminating in a complete scumbag to whom she
even became engaged. He was a compulsive liar, and in the 3.5 years
they were together, he never got a job. He did, however, have
expensive tastes, and L. paid for all his nice things, including a
brand new Corvette. And to afford all this, she let him talk her into
becoming a stripper, and eventually a prostitute.

For ten months she lived and worked at a brothel three out of every
four weeks. And while she was away, this boyfriend/fiance lived in
her house, spending her money and playing World of Warcraft.
Fortunately, she eventually gave up prostitution - turns out working
at a brothel isn't as lucrative as one might think, especially when
your fiance is draining your bank accounts every month. It wasn't
long before she had to file for bankruptcy, but at least that was a
step towards climbing out of her financial pit o' despair. She got a
job managing at a restaurant, which she seemed to enjoy much more than
waitressing. And a few months ago, she even kicked out her lowlife
fiance. Things seemed like they were looking up.

Unfortunately, it didn't last. Almost immediately, L. started
sleeping with her new co-manager R., a married man with a
four-year-old son. He repeatedly promises to leave his wife, even
though she recently became pregnant again (she ended up miscarrying,
though). The two of them - my sister and R. - also occasionally have
sex with one of the female servers at the restaurant, who in addition
to being their employee is also engaged to someone else. L. still
drinks a lot, not only at social occasions, but at work, too. And
about a month ago, she called me up and nonchalantly asked, "What do
you know about cocaine?" Apparently R. and the female server both do
it, and now L. is considering trying it. I was shocked and
disappointed, but L. keeps trying to claim that it's no big deal, and
that this new "relationship" with R. is much healthier than the last.

Then, just a few days ago, she called and asked to borrow $500. She
said she needed it right away, and when I asked for an explanation,
she told me it was bail money for R. He'd gotten into a fight at a
bar and beaten up some guy. While it hurt me to do so, I had to tell
her no, because I just didn't feel comfortable loaning that kind of
money for R. I don't like having to turn down a favor for someone I
love when I have the means to help, but I just couldn't do it. It
upset me so much that I had to call one of my close friends to ask for
reassurance - had I done the right thing?

L. is only 28, so I keep telling myself there is still time for her to
get her life on track and start making good decisions. I'm really not
one to judge her - and none of this is judgment so much as concern.
I've made my share of bad decisions in my personal life, but I feel
like I've acknowledged my poor choices in a way that she hasn't with
hers, and I'm learning from my mistakes where she's repeating hers.

I'm the little sister here - I'm only 25. But I feel an overwhelming
need to help her. To fix her. To *save* her somehow. I can't
imagine ever giving up on her, but I also am getting to the point
where I don't know what I can do anymore. I just love her so much,
and I hate watching her make one bad decision after another. Is there
anything I can do? What would you do?

Thank you so much for reading, and if you have any thoughts, PLEASE
share them.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a lot to handle right now! It sounds like you made the best decision re the $ - giving it to her would just be encouraging her to live this way. Even though it is heartbreaking to watch, sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they are willing to accept your help. Stand your ground with your values, but don't cut her off. Continue to let her know you love her, but that you don't agree with where her life is leading! I know this is soooo hard (I speak from experience from dealing with a life long friend) but you can do it!!

Anonymous said...

I have a sister like yours. She's 10 years older and has done so much for me in the past that I felt like I had to save her, too. But we can't save them - it doesn't matter how much money you give them or how many times you try to sober them up or how many times you bail them out. I know how bad it hurts and I hope your sister finds the right path.

flutter said...

wow. You are lovely for loving her as you do. The only thing that will help her is an intervention to help her with her chemical dependencies. Without those under control, she will continue to spiral downward. I am so sorry you have to see it all

Anonymous said...

Your sister sounds ill. Perhaps bipolar? Maybe an alcoholic? There's not much you can do to help her unless she wants help. I'm sorry. Not lending her the money is the right thing.

merinz said...

I have no answers - only a few comments.

You are a wonderful caring sister. Also a wise one - giving her money would not have been the sensible thing to do. And also wise because you have kept the lines of communication open over the years.

Are your parents in the picture? Do either of them have any influence over your sister? To me she seems to be 'lost' and needs to know that she is a family member and loved. She is looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places.

It is hard to stand back and let a person you love make mistakes but she may have to eventually hit rock bottom before she can progress and learn.

Anonymous said...

You're a great sister. Really.

I can relate to your story, but from the opposite role: I behaved that way, and I'm so ashamed of myself now, as I read from your perspective... There were many years of bad choices, affairs, drugs and *ahem* 'dancing' before I quit my self-destructive ways. Unlike your sister, though, I hid my demons from my family and boyfriend (now husband). For YEARS. I reached out to no one.

The fact that she confides in you is HUGE. She trusts you. Maybe you can convince her to leave Vegas? See if she'll take a short break and come hang with you? For me, the time that I spent with my little sister during those bad years was always a respite, as I would be on my best behavior with her. We'd go ice skating, shopping, etc. Normal sister stuff.

Whatever you decide I hope you'll keep calling her, keep reminding her that you love her just the way she is. She may need to hit rock bottom before she can see the pain she's causing you. And that's OK. With love from a sister like you she'll make it through.
BUT, send no money. Period. Unless it's for a one-way ticket to you, of course. Good luck-I'll be thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

Don't enable her--don't give her money or anything worth money. And don't bite your tongue about the damage she is doing to herself. Look into AA in your area. A good 12 step support group would really help. And while you are at it you could learn a bit about her addictions. I doubt she is new to drugs and alcohol. There are also groups for family members of addicts and they are incredibly supportive. Meetings are always free and usually there are meetings all over town.

Finally, take care of yourself. Her problems are not your own. You cannot fix this even though I know you wish you could.

Anonymous said...

I tried to save someone once. I learned that you can't *force* a person to change or see the truth about his/her addictions or destructive behavior. As much as you don't want to, all you can right now do is be there for your sister and then later, help her pick up the pieces.

Not giving her the money was the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Just one thought, to add to the excellent advice that others have already posted -- the restaurant business is NOTORIOUS for its drug and alcohol abuse and generally wild and crazy lifestyle (I didn't know this 'til I developed a couple of close friends who are managers, servers, chefs, what have you). But with brutal (often late) hours, lots of booze/drugs readily available, it's a tough environment for even the most healthy individual. Of course this is just a generalization, and no offense meant to those whose experiences are different.

If you can't persuade your sister to leave Vegas, perhaps prompting her to take her next job in a different industry might do her some good.

Bless you for caring so much.

Anonymous said...

You must not enable her. Don't give her any money or anything she can sell to get money.

Be careful to make sure to always state your responses to her requests for help with, "I can't help you to hurt yourself." Make sure she knows you love her. Don't protect her from the consequences of her actions. If being unable to go to work because she is hungover gets her fired, don't cover for her; she has to get fired.

It's hard. Especially when it's family.


Anonymous said...

you are a truly loving sister! consider contacting an interventionist. it sounds like she has some emotional problems and lacks positive or effective coping skills. an interventionist can help you force her to hit a 'bottom' and get the help she needs.