Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Soul-Sucking Zombie or Sweet 'Lil Sis?

Dear Eve,  

My little sister and I are not close at all, but I sure would love to have the very close relationship with her that I have with my other brothers and sisters.  She’s been addicted to drugs and is currently in jail.  I've been trying to give the tough love and not enable her as our father and mother are doing enough enabling for all of us.  Does it help her or is it irresponsible of me to reach out to her while she's in jail?  In her last jail stint, reaching out only seemed to encourage her to continue to lie to us, but this time she's in for longer and I think she went in possibly with a better mindset this time.

I feel rotten, but I just don't know what to do anymore but  I don't want to be disappointed again!

Dear Please Don't Let Me Be Miss Understood,

You're just going to have to take a chance, bébé.  There is nothing easy when it comes to addiction, especially when the addict is in your family.  No one gets out untouched, whether emotionally, physically, or financially.  The problem is figuring out when it's time for the family to circle their metaphorical wagons and shut out the soul-sucking zombie that the person's become.  In my mind, the wagon train stops sooner rather than later.  There is an extremely small window for benefits-of-the-doubts and second chances.  The addict is a taker extraordinaire, with superpowers unknown to the average human.  They can take and take and boggle your mind in their ability to take even more.  The person is no longer a person, in any significant sense.  They are a drug ingesting machine: their only reason for being alive is to fuel that machine in any and every way possible.  

Know that this is the truth and accept that until she's had a sea change and embraced sobriety, there's really no reason to trouble your pretty little mind about a relationship with her.  However, since she is in jail and no longer an active drug user, starting to build a foundation is an option.  You're going to have to risk a little piece of your heart and endure the accompanying disappointment if it goes south, but she is your sister and will always be, whether she's lost her soul to mind-altering chemicals or not; she's worth the risk.  Just remember, though, that just because she's not ingesting the shit, doesn't mean that she doesn't still have addict behavior, i.e. everything that comes out of her mouth is at least a parital lie and manipulating is her favorite hobby.  However, a little love from you could make a huge difference.  Sometimes a mental encouraging squeeze can give someone the inspiration they need to make a real change.  And sometimes that same squeeze can inspire them to take advantage of you like a teenage boy and the first girl that lets them just "stick the head in a little."  A little usually goes a long way. 

It comes down to what you're willing to risk.  You won't be irreparably damaged if you get your heart hurt; you will be wiser and sadder, but you're a big girl and can handle it.  You have the choice to just write her off; it won't be the first or last time it will happen to her and when she gets super sober, she will understand and not judge you for it. 

Then again, you could also approach this a little loosey-goosey and keep a light and topical correspondence with no super-heavy overtones of familial obligations and make-it-or-break-it conversations. Let her regale you of her convict adventures and the "real characters" and super-nice ladies behind bars.  They believe in Jesus, I swear!  And don't belong there! And the judge was too harsh!  It will be exciting to learn about this new segment of America.  You, in turn, can tell her about the Kardashians and what an asshole your husband is.  Tit for tat.  Or tits for tattoos if she tells the story right.  Either way you go, she's your sis.  You're not going to be an asshole on purpose so don't feel guilty whether you choose to run, engage, or learn what a prick the night-watch guard is.  She gave up her option to choose; you, my dear, did not.

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