Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm Angry

Posted by Anonymous.

I'm angry. I've been angry for three years, five months and ten days. That was the day you called me in the middle of the night (afternoon in your time zone) to tell me that you are an alcoholic and suicidal and you needed my help to come home. We spent so long on the phone and for the first time in my life I used my social work skills on a family member to make a contract with you that you would not kill yourself that night. When I hung up with you, and then with our parents, I collapsed into bed and sobbed into my husband's arms for hours. And the entire time there was a little voice nudging me from the far corners of my consciousness saying "what is all this stress doing to the baby?" You see, this was my first child, and I was new at this, and I was worried that all this stress on that poor little five-month-old fetus might cause some negative effects.

A few weeks later you arrived home. Against my advice (and all my training), you chose to stop drinking cold turkey. I warned you about the side effects, but you thought you would be fine. At 6 months pregnant I found myself trying to roll your stiff body onto your side so you wouldn't choke on any potential vomit while you were in the middle of a seizure (recommendation of the 911 operator). I was the one who tearfully convinced you to ride to the hospital in the ambulance instead of me driving you (terrified that you might seize again on the way). The entire time, that little voice in my head kept worrying "what about the baby?"

My second and third trimesters were filled with phone calls and planning sessions with you and our parents. Despite the fact that I had worked with countless families over the years with very similar situations, my suggestions were rarely heard or followed. I always knew when you had a particularly bad spell because the daily emails from our mother would stop. Then, a few days later I would hear about how you tried to slit your wrists in the shower, or how you were arrested for a DWI - twice (the second time after sideswiping a tractor trailer truck).

I'm angry that my entire pregnancy - my first child, our parent's very first grandchild, was overshadowed with your illness. I'm angry that our mother began to get hives every day when leaving work because she never knew what to expect when she arrived home. I'm angry that you showed up to my son's birth drunk (and you drove there!) I'm angry that our grandmother used her fixed income to pay your DWI fines. I'm angry that I start to worry when three days go by without hearing from our mother because that almost always means you've relapsed again. I'm angry that you've mooched off our parents for over three years now, giving little if anything in return. I'm angry that you were sober for so long, and I trusted you to watch our son for an afternoon, and you got drunk. I'm indescribably grateful that a friend happened to stop by and notice something off with you and call us so that we could race home to find our 8 month old scared and upset but not injured. You irrevocably damaged our relationship that day. Nearly two years later, I still haven't been able to forgive you for that incident. I have of course never trusted you to be alone with my children again either.

I'm angry that three years into your "recovery" you're still having relapses. You (finally!) found a part-time job, and with your very first paycheck you bought alcohol, hid it and drank for weeks. Now you want to get your license back and somehow I'm supposed to believe that your very first trip out of the house won't be to the liquor store.

I'm angry that you were often treated differently by our parents. You were the one who could crawl into bed with them after a bad dream while I was sent back to my room. You were the one who got a kitten for your birthday where my pleas fell on deaf ears for years. I didn't get a car until you were old enough to drive and "share" it with me. In high school and college I always worked 2-3 jobs. You just started your first part time job at the age of 26. Our parents always paid your rent and food and tuition bills. I still hear about the one month when I was a junior that I didn't have quite enough money for rent (despite working 30 hours a week and maintaining a full course load). Did our parents somehow always suspect that you were the "weaker" sibling? Did their special treatment help to contribute to your addictive personality?

I can't tell anyone in our family that I'm angry at you, because I'll sound mean and unsympathetic. They won't understand my anger and frustration. I have no where else to go with these feelings, so I write them here (yes, I know about ALANON. I've been before, but it feels like I'm sacrificing my already scarce free time to address your disease, and that just makes me more frustrated). I know that alcoholism is a disease. I know that you don't have control over this disease, that it controls you (and the family around you). I know that you don't want to be this way. Despite all of that, I'm still angry. I'm angry at the disease, and at what it's done to you. I'm angry that we've talked about this exact hazard for years. You've known and understood that our mother is an alcoholic since you were in middle school. I know you were a little lost when I left for college - you were stuck in the house with the drunk mother with very few opportunities to talk, but I tried to make myself available to you - I called often, and we emailed when we could and I visited regularly. You know and understand the genetics and the science, and you knew the risks involved when you started to drink in college. We were so very close for so very long. I'm angry that you didn't come to me, didn't talk to me, didn't ask for help before it was too late.

I'm angry that I've lost my sister. I don't think I'll ever see her again.

14 comments:

Pgoodness said...

I'm sorry. I've been lucky - my brother is a recovering alcoholic - celebrating 14 years sober, but every day is a struggle for him and always will be. Growing up (he's 5ys older), I didn't get what was going on until I had to go to counseling and treatment therapy with him and the family as he worked to get 'better'. I was always the good kid, never needed the attention like him, so I know that feeling.

Anyway, I'm sorry you've lost your sister. Alcoholism sucks. It sounds like you have done everything you could and it certainly isn't your fault. You have every right to be angry and upset. I hope writing this out will help you a little bit, and I will send good thoughts and hopes that she someday very soon finds her path to getting sober.

Erin said...

I don't know why but through the whole post, up until the last sentence I thought you were writing about your brother, not your sister.

Regardless, saying that it's hard to live with someone in the depth of the disease probably sounds trite and really doesn't begin to scratch the surface. You articulated a lot of what I've felt over the years of dealing with my mother, my father, my brother, my cousins and a great number of my friends.

I hope you feel some relief, even if just for a short while, from writing this.

MYSUESTORIES said...

Three years, five months, and ten days...You have had lots of time to deal with this shit (no..It is NOT a sickness, it IS a self indulgence) She(or he) will continue to outshine you as long as you allow it to happen..may I reccommend a book? CODEPENDENCE NO MORE.....please...help yourself..because you cannot help her/him

Kelly said...

You've done more than enough. It is time to focus on raising your children and shielding them from the drama. Nothing you do will change how your sister turned out, but you do have control over what influences are in the lives of your children.

Anonymous said...

I have a sister with a mental illness. I can totally sympathize with everything that you are feeling.
It sucks.

flowerpower13169 said...

You have every right to be angry. That does not make you a bad person, or unsympathetic. Alanon helped me to step back out of the chaos but once I did I felt like you, just sick of talking about "their disease." You have to do what is best for you and your children, good for you for putting yourself first. You deserve to feel angry.

Anonymous said...

I'm the original poster - thank you for all your kind words - it is sometimes a bit scary to put stuff out "there" even anonymously. My sister just recently got a part-time job, which lead to another relapse (money in the pocket=vodka hidden in her room) which lead to another hospital stay to detox. However, since then she has been attending AA meetings daily. She found herself a sponsor, and even got her license back for the first time in over 3 years. She's got a long, long way to go, but it is a relief to see her finally making some positive changes, even if our relationship is still a bit distant...

Michele said...

I am so sorry that you've lost your sister.

Your post reminded me so much of the movie Rachel Getting Married. I wish I could say there was some sort of happy ending/great resolution - but it was very realistic - things just went on, wounds still open.

I hope that you are able to find some sort of peace with your sister and family.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say you'll never have that moment with your sister again unless you change your thinking. Don't wait for her to change because she will do it when she's ready. But for you, please don't hold onto that ugly angry. It will ruin your life.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. I feel for you. My brother's been in a similar situation. I can forgive the things he does, but I can't ever forget, and we'll never again have the relationship we had as kids.

Kimmad said...

Wow, I've been there. This could have been written by me, but substitute "drugs" for "alcohol". And my sister died at the age of 30 because of it. But I'd lost her long before that.

I'm not really sure what else to say. It's a hard situation all around. I was angry for years, and still sometimes feel it. (my sister's been dead for 14 years) It does get better as time goes on. And therapy helps. :) Wishing you peace.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. This sounds like a dreadful situation.

It also sounds lie your family (parents and grandparents) are continuing to enable your sister's poor choices by giving her a free place to live and paying her fines. I'm willing to bet your somewhat estranged from them emotionally as well based on your different upbringings and the continuing problems.

Perhaps you should write a letter to your parents, similar to what you've written here, and give it to her. And suggest strongly that THEY join ALAnon to gain a new perspective on "the help" they're providing to yoru sister. Because it doesn't sound like they're actually helping ... it sounds like they're just keeping her alive, barely, in between bouts of more sheer stupidity.

Kellee said...

I don't think you sound unreasonable at all. I imagine I would real exactly the same way. I'm sorry you've lost your sister. Hopefully she'll be strong enough to pull herself together.

Anonymous said...

Oh God, addiction is SOUL SUCKING. FOR EVERYONE. i think it's worse for friends and family because the addict has no cares or worries beyond getting the next fix.

i have no words of real advice or comfort, despite a similar (but not the same!) situation. the only thing i can come up with is this: make a choice to allow her into your life *only* on your terms. sadly, and i'm sure you know this, the only way to keep her addiction from stealing any more of your life is to cut off all contact. going to detox and getting sober are great, but that doesn't mean you need to open your life to her right after she gets out. maybe if she can give you three or six months of sobriety (whatever *you* are comfortable with), then that would be the time to try the relationship again.

this sucks for you. i'm sorry. i hope posting this allowed you to vent off some anger.