As I write this, it’s my sister’s 54th birthday. It is very likely that she will not make it to see 55.
She does not have cancer. She has another disease: She’s an addict.
Every time one of my other sisters calls, I’m convinced it will be THAT phone call. You know the kind. The kind when someone is lost forever.
This particular sister and I are not that close. If you’ve ever known an alcoholic or an addict you probably know, they aren’t really themselves when they’re actively consumed by their addiction.
Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, on the other hand, can be some of the most spiritual, enlightened, wise people on the planet.
I want her to get better. I want her, like so many other members of my family, to admit she has a problem, work the twelve steps and come out the other side one of the success stories. I want her to choose LIFE.
Maybe we have too many success stories in my family. We have a pretty unparalleled success rate. My mother and father met in AA and had me. I grew up thinking all alcoholics and addicts were awesome – because as a child I only really knew the ones in recovery.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that it doesn’t matter how much I want her to admit she has a problem. It doesn’t make a bit of difference how many times my other family members offer to help her. None of us can help her until she wants to be helped.
I remember looking into her eyes at a family wedding a few years back and seeing two things for the first time as clear as day. She’s the youngest soul of all of us. And, underneath the numbing substances, the lies and the smoke screens, she’s in terrible pain. Emotional, spiritual, human pain.
I cannot help her to move through that pain. Only she can help her Self.
During the past 2 years, she has lost everything. Her mother and her step-mother, both grounding forces, each passed away. Then the drugs took her inheritances as well as her job, her home and her entire life savings.
She is homeless. She lives in her car on the street. She asks the family for little “helps” – things like money and a place to shower. She also asks for cash (secretly to feed the addition). She won’t accept the help she needs. She won’t admit to herself that she needs it.
Waiting and hoping that we will get a chance to see her whole again is difficult. My other sisters and I call upon our ancestors. Each time we get a desperate or heated call, we find strength in the memories of support and guidance from our parents. Our ancestors give us the serenity and wisdom that help us to set boundaries. We have the courage to say “No” to providing the kind of help that enables the addiction rather than serves the healing.
Saying “No” is one of the most courageous, empowered things we can do.
With passion & love,
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