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A Letter To My Sister, The Addict

Dear Sister: While you were learning how to live sober, we were trying to learn how to trust you. These obstacles are equally difficult.

I believe in Sober Mommies, and the empowering message it sends to anyone who has struggled with addiction. Having said that, I hope I won’t be judged based on my perspective.I have been blessed. I am not an addict. I have never been addicted to any illegal, mind-altering substance. I have, however, had to deal with the actions and consequences of an addict for the past twenty years.

In many ways, an addict is like an ever-igniting bomb. The addict suffers each blow, but the shrapnel from each explosion also devastates everyone in her path.

If you are reading this sober, I congratulate you. But I also beg you to be patient with the people who have been on this journey with you. We are filled with anger, resentment, bitterness, and the very real fear that you will mess up again. While you are learning how to live sober, we are trying to learn how to trust you. These obstacles are equally difficult. I can no longer be a beacon of hope for the addict in my life. This letter is for her.

To My Sister:

A few days ago, I heard you say to your daughter, “If anyone cares, I am eleven days sober.” This confused me. Are you seeking support and admiration for doing something for eleven days? You haven’t raised your children in SIXTEEN YEARS! Your daughter hasn’t been able to seek guidance from you with her relationship problems, celebrate happy occasions with you, or reach out to even ask random questions because you have never been there for her. That responsibility has been left on your mother, her grandmother and legal guardian, and me; her aunt. And now, you would try to guilt your daughter for not being supportive of your eleven days?

Where the fuck were you?

When I was twenty years old, you decided to abandon your children and leave them with our mother and ailing father. You decided, for whatever reason, they were a better fit to raise your son and daughter.

And then you left.

During this time, did you take it upon yourself to self-reflect, seek therapy, or focus on the important things in life? NO! You chose to procreate again with an abusive convict; a man who, when not incarcerated, collects disability because he suffers with an “addiction problem”. You brought two more children into this world, and now they are also being raised by our mother.

But you have eleven days sober! Good for you!

I have a family. Most days I work nine hours; sometimes ten. Every day on my way home, I call our mother to see how she’s doing raising your children.

Some days she’s in tears.

On those days, I go to her house so she has some support. On my way out, we plan my return. These days throw off the routine I have established for my own family. When I get home, I still have to do what REAL mothers do. I have to make dinner, get things ready for the next day, and bathe my child.

On the nights I don’t go over, I check in on your older children to see how they are doing. I worry about how they are dealing with the ramifications of the incident that has motivated you to stay sober for ELEVEN WHOLE DAYS—the fact that you overdosed two days after your oldest daughter’s birthday.

Good for you, though. You have eleven days sober.

I am enraged at how easily you can go for a leisurely walk in the middle of a workday; while our mother tries to figure out when to pick up your younger kids from elementary school. It must be nice to awaken whenever you want, without the responsibility of having to get your kids dressed, make them breakfast, or deal with their emotional confusion, because they don’t know how to express their feelings after seeing the domestic violence you subjected them to, and their mother lying on the floor…BLUE.

I hate who you are, and what you have become. I am envious of people who have a sibling they can depend on; someone they can do things with, enjoy life with, and love. I was short-changed. My sibling is a pathological liar who lives for her own hedonistic pleasures and ignores all things she is responsible for. I wanted to move out of this city one day, but I can’t. I gave up that dream, because I made a promise to our father when he was dying, that I would help take care of Mom and YOUR children… because he knew you wouldn’t.

You play the victim because you’re the addict, but you have held our entire family hostage because of your choices. You have done nothing but lie and abuse our trust. You have wasted our youth, our expectations, and our hope that one day you might become a decent daughter, mother, and sister. Your actions have altered who your children could have been, their relationships with people, and their ability to trust.

If you need someone to acknowledge your eleven days, here it is. I will congratulate you, but this is the last interaction we will have. I’m exhausted, and I just can’t do it anymore.

Eleven days does not make up for your sixteen years of destruction.

This post was submitted by an Anonymous family member.

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  1. Let me say that I do understand the place this letter comes from, but on the other hand I AM the addict. My sister was NEVER there for me. All she did was put me down when we were growing up. I was the little sister….the youngest of the family. My brother molested me and the father who adopted my sister and I abused us for years. No, I’m not making excuses but EVERY time I tried to get close to my sister….she pushed me away! What in the hell did I do to make her hate me??? What did I do to her to make her call me ugly and tell me I will NEVER have any friends?? What did I do to her to make her spin me around and sit me in a pile of dog shit??!! REALLY?? Yes, I am an addict. Yes, I have hurt ppl. Yes, I have hurt my own children!! I CLAIM EVERY BIT OF THAT. But I yelled out for help soooooo many times and it fell on deaf ears! I was and am still abused by my husband. The same husband that my parents bonded out of jail after he battered me! After he called me vulgar disgusting names. Yep, and they let him sleep at their house. My “father” even came to my home and asked for the little bit of money we had left so my abusive hubby could eat at work. Never mind that we had 2 children at the time….young children. What were they supposed to eat for the week? How was I supposed to buy diapers for the week? How was I supposed to eat for the week? Was my sister there for me….nope. I never expected my parents to be because we had no blood ties what so ever. My sister and I are from the same family….we were adopted together. I fought my hubbys addiction for years and years….crying out for help from my family. Did I get help……HELL NO!!! Yes, I ended up joining him in the end and I am ashamed of myself. I have tried to kick my opiate addiction. Was clean and sober for over 2 yrs….you think my “family” recognized that…..hell no!! All they did was make up bs and say they heard I was Never sober. But I have toxicology’s to prove my shit! All my hateful sister ever did was lie on me and try to take my children from me when I asked for help. Do I trust her…..hell no. Do I love her….hell yes….she’s my sister. But the damage is done and NEVER WILL BE REPAIRED. She downgrades me every chance she gets…..I don’t need that. I am a human being and I do deserve more!! I don’t give a rats ass what ANYONE thinks of me or what ANYONE thinks I have done or am doing. You are NOT in MY life on a day by day basis for a reason…..I plan to keep it that way! I am in NO way blaming my family for my addiction. I am an adult and have made my own choices, but damn….give a girl a break and see that a person is trying. Give some credit…..don’t make the person feel guilty for making a mistake. In my God’s eye’s all mistakes are the same…none are worse than others. This letter to this person’s sister comes from a place of anger and I can feel that as I read it. I understand how the other side feels but can’t they try to understand how the addict feels. How much guilt we feel… we feel like nothing….how we feel at times that we should never be forgiven. There are many feelings on both sides. And I think it is very wrong for any family member to try and turn an addicts children against them if ever that be the case. The way this letter reads I feel that this sister may show some of her emotions around the addicts children. I hope that is not the case…..the children suffer enough!

    1. She states in her introduction that she is filled with anger, resentment, bitterness, and fear. So it stands to reason that you can sense her anger through her words.

      I’m not sure why your sister did those things to you growing up. If I had to guess I might say that she was attempting to cope with trauma just as you have. Some people turn to booze, some pills, some take it out on other people. There’s a thousand unhealthy ways to “deal”. But that is simply a guess.

      I really hope that both of you are able to get some relief from your anger, so that you may one day experience the wonderful blessings that sisters can for one another.

      It sounds like you have had some tough times. I’m sorry for that. What this letter did for me was to remind me of just how devastating of an impact my disease has on my loved ones, and to reiterate that, while I know I have changed, my loved ones deserve all the time they need to trust and even respect me again. That we all face struggles and fight battles, and it isn’t just about mine.

    2. TO SISTER OF THE ADDICT—-Alcohol is my drug of choice. I’ve been sober for 19 years. I did sooooo many stupid & rotten things to my friends, family and myself. Lost all self respect, still working on that (19 years later, I’m 48). Anyway I made sure I never had kids because I knew I would suck as a mom, and drinking/partying was to important to me. I tried to make sure when I was loaded I didn’t let my Mom see me cuz I know it broke her heart. I had my own place and car. I was self sufficient and worked. At age 19 my Mom told me she could no longer watch me killing myself, it was basically killing her. When I was ready to get help she said “I’M HERE AND WILL DO ANYTHING TO HELP YOU GET SOBER IF OR WHEN YOU SERIOUSLY DECIDE” then she cut ties. SHE HAD TO.. MY DISEASE WAS KILLING HER TOO BECA– USE SHE LOVED ME. She did continue to send birthday, Easter, etc… cards. And we would get together for Christmas. I made sure I was sober on those days. I’d call her every few months and let her know I was alive and ok. She’d call me for same reason. Now with that being said. When I finally got sober (one day at a time) ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD! I’m STILL making amends. (19 Years later) Did I really wrong that many people? ANSWER BIG FAT YES!!!!!!! When I run into someone from those days, and believe me I run into them often.. I don’t know where the hell they come from 🙂 But often… I ask their forgiveness and let them know how truly sorry I am for whatever I might have (I blacked out most of the time) or did do to them. And they either forgive me or tell me to fuck off. If they tell me to fuck off (and a few have) I can NOT blame anyone but myself, this is a consequence of my actions when I was drinking. And I have to learn how to forgive myself somehow. It’s part of our healing process. Some things we addicts do CAN’T be repaired. I DO NOT BLAME YOU FOR FEELING THAT WAY!!! I truly believe I would feel the same in your shoes. We addicts are selfish, self centered, don’t give a shit what we do to people, especially family. The world revolves around us and if you don’t understand then fuck you. JUST WHO THE HELL DO WE THINK WE ARE??? We do nothing but fuck things up for everyone, especially family! The world does NOT revolve around us. We are a pain in the ass, make our own drama that we blame on you. And we are ignorant about EVERYTHING!!! And none of it is our fault. We chase people away, make them dislike us and lose all respect for us. Some even HATE us. RIGHTFULLY SO!!..And none of it is our fault. WELL It is our own fault!!! And until we start to realize and admit that, we will be crippled with this disease. Unfortunately addiction is a family disease. Because of what and how it affects the rest of the family. Hence you being the sister who has been shit on over and over by the addict, and your Mom. Al-anon is a great place for families of addicts. It teaches you how to cope & handle the bad situation the addict has put you in and how to make it THEIR addiction, NOT YOURS!!. THEIR PROBLEM AND ONLY THEIR PROBLEM. This group is all about YOU!!!! Family of the addict. It will not preach for you to forgive. Nor the other way. It gives you the tools on how to get YOURSELF better. I will remember you in my prayers. TO THE SISTER ADDICT—From one addict to another I do want to congratulate you on eleven sober days. I know it’s hard, but understand you’ve MUCH HARD WORK if you want to continue sobriety. Don’t give up!! MEETINGS, MEETINGS, MEETINGS!!!!! 30 meetings in 30 days to start.. One of the reasons of meetings is that others are going through the same thing. Understand and think like you. There is where you should be getting support and draw from others experience, understand and think like you. Also don’t get mad if some people don’t give a shit how many days you have sober. Remember they have put up with soooo much crap from you (the addict, myself included. No judgment) It’s going to take a LONG TIME AND MANY YEARS OF SOBRIETY TO GAIN FORGIVENESS. AND YOU MIGHT NOT EVER GET IT. But your being be sober will be A life changing, wonderfully happy place to be.. So I pray you continue to be “sick and tired of being sick and tired”

      1. Sounds like your sister suffered the same trauma you did but she didn’t become an addict to cope with it. Maybe you should consider what you have done to her in support of your addiction before you cry about her calling you ugly when you were children and not loving you enough. Your child hood is over and you hold your sister responsible for your emotions as if she is your mother. She is not your mother. She was a child just like you.

    3. I’m so sorry you’re hurting so deeply. I, too, am an addict. I just took 3 yrs clean a few days ago. I have made some grave mistakes in my long running addiction to opiates then others. I’m going to gently honest here. I’ve had the same feelings of ” Geez can’t anyone see how I’ve changed “? Or felt upset because their trust wasn’t instantly restired in me. These are the consequences of our actions. We are victims of the disease, yes, not to be confused with just plain victim. I can only speak from my experience. I blamed everyone and everything for my pain. wrong choices. I have to work, daily, at accepting responsibility for MY actions and accept that not everyone will understand. That is part for the course. It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating. It feels unfair.
      Everyday I stay clean though, is an opportunity to repair some of the damage I did. I humbly accept it may take a while but I’ll get there.
      Peace and hugs

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I’m a recovering alcoholic and I have 2 older sisters. I’m not sure how, but they have stood by my side throughout active addiction and recovery. I’m forever grateful for that, and for reminders like this that keep me in check. ??

  3. Hi I’m 30 yrs old and have been getting high since I was 13 . I’m not proud to admit this but I always played the victim always oh woe is me… I’ve been to rehab counseling etc nothing will work unless u want it. It took my children getting taken away to realize its not fair to them the way they lived I never physically hurt them but didn’t realize the hurt I really did. I’ve hurt so many people in my years of addiction its insane. But know I’m working a program for myself and my family my kids will soon be back and I can try to restart our relationship over and not hurt them or myself anymore. People who aren’t addicts don’t understand and never will why we do this to ourselves and others and I don’t expect u to but at least try to help that addict instead of giving up on them.

    1. Mindi, this is awesome! Thanks for sharing your hope. You are right, when we are in full addict mode, we only think about ourselves, but when we get sober, we have so many opportunities to make it right!

      Hope you are doing well. If you need support, please reach out!


  4. I am also an addict’s sister. Her children have also been largely our whole family’s responsibility. I had panic attacks while away at university worrying about her, her (then just one) child, and my parents. She is 6 years younger and would dissapear for days at a time. My parents faught and faught about how to manage her and eventually got divorced. Several people in our family won’t speak with each other anymore. I can’t even begin to describe the horrifying and sad states I’ve seen her, her home, and her children in. She’s been to several rehabs & alternative treatments with varying success but seems to regress each time. It’s destroyed so many things. I love and miss her, but I will not support her whole she continues to make these choices. I haven’t given up on her. I know she can get better & I hope that she will, but that part is up to her.

  5. What a powerful letter! I hope it was cathartic for you to write it. I am currently in recovery myself. I guess you could call me a high functioning addict, I maintained a very high level job before having children and then became a stay at home mom and cared for my children well (never missing a doctors appointment, meal, play date, etc.). Most people have actually been pretty surprised by my addition and entrance into rehab. But you know what, I’m still an addict and it still affected my family, mainly my husband.
    Your anger is so 100% valid and justified, so I say the next statement not to belittle that, but in hope of releiving some of it. I am almost positive (can’t be completely positive because I don’t know the entire story) that she has never taken a leisurely walk in her entire addict life. Though she might not be taking the day to day responsibilities of a family upon herself, there is no relaxing stroll in the life of an addict. She is most likely, at all times, thinking and worried about getting her next high. She is likely all consumed with it, the fear, the withdrawal, the secrecy, the pain, shame, etc. Again, I say this to help you find relief in just one small part of your justified fury. No matter how much you take on for her and how much stress you have, she is never relaxed or happily enjoying a day. I hope one day you can find peace within yourself, just know that in helping your mom care for her kids you are going above and beyond as a wonderful, responsible, kind hearted person. Take pride in that.

  6. I know exactly how this woman feels I’ve been in that boat with my sister and enabling parents far too long. One difference is that whist the enabling parents think they are helping by raising her 4 beautiful children, they have basically written off their other kids so we have no parents to turn to. I’m so disgusted with my sister that I wish she was not my sister. All the lying and manipulation and stealing are unforgivable.

  7. My sister has been a drug addict most of her life. She’s 16 years older than me so I don’t even remember her before the drugs. All I remember is going with my mom to take her to rehab, her screaming at me and being abusive and my mom ring to help but yet enabling her behavior. My mom is now very ill and she wants a relationship with me. She was diagnosed with PTSD. I understand that she’s gone through a lot, but my mom and I took care of my niece. She blames things on circumstances like she didn’t have a choice and it infuriates me because we all do. He daughter doesn’t want to deal with her and my other sister doesn’t either. Why is it that I’m the one that gets the pressure of having to deal with someone who has only brought me and my family negativity? Why does she think she deserves this chance, especially again after all these years? And the religious thing has me sick. How can you possibly say that you want to make amends if you can’t accept wrongdoing? I’m very upset and the selfishness and at the entitlement. At this point I don’t have to DO anything! I’m not going to enable this and I’m not going to be taken advantage of. But yet again I have to deal with this drama because YOU need something, yet again. Its always a gimme scenario and I’m not giving anything anymore. For the first time, my needs come first.

  8. Wow! To all of you for your open, honest feelings and to you Anonymous: thank you for your letter to your sister who is with the addiction (disease) – the pain, destruction, worry etc, that burdens you and your family. Prayers of strength and love sending to you

  9. Reading this helped me find a little bit of peace with my own addict sister. My sister and her addict husband didn’t abandon their children but they most certainly tore apart our family and focused their violent rages on me and my children. It has gone on for over 20 years. My sister might have quit using as she claims but she has never had therapy. Her husband is just as much an alcoholic, prone to violent outbursts, wild chaotic, manipulative and quite possibly a murderer. I can not express my pain or shock at just how far reaching their damage has been. Trying to help them has only made problems worse and trying to protect myself and my children resulted in violence and worse. If I could have seen what the future held for this family of mine I would have fled as far as I could have away from them, away from my much loved parents and grandparents, because my sister is so pathological and manipulative she was able to make me, a completely responsible, never have had an addiction to anything, good citizen and decent human being into the bad guy. It is not fair to live your life doing the best you can, living honestly and having a strong moral foundation only to have everything and everyone you care about destroyed by a hedonistic, pathological addict who ensures everything serves their addiction including you. What astonishes me even more is she has people convinced that she is not an addict, that maybe she is a little wild and misguided but not any worse. There is not enough written about these kinds of addicts to find adequate help. When you are trapped supporting the people you love who are left behind by the addict then it is just as bad as being unable to help them when you see them being exploited, abused and manipulated. I have no forgiveness for untreated and insincere addicts in recovery. Hell is not hot enough for the suffering you cause.

  10. I really needed to read this..
    this week has been hard.. being the sister of an addict.. I have these exact feelings but wonder if I’m a horrible person for feeling this way.

  11. I am a sister of a addict of alcohol my sister is a loving warm and great person when she is is sober but when she drinks she is very mean, nasty and no caring I have been there with her for the pst 10 years of her addiction and I try my best to stand by her and be there to encourage her. My mom doesn’t she tells her she needs to get sober and trys to talk to her about her addiction when she is drunk and it doesn’t do anything but make it worse . I have done research on it and says you should never confront the addict when they are under the influence but my mom still does its like she wants her to just snap out of it and be her old self and she cant do that. I sometimes want to leave the state and move away from all of it but I know that I cant. I feel like her mom sometimes I guess because I am the oldest and have looked out for her and my brother since they were little. I feel hopeless sometimes I have tried to talk to her when she is sober and she agrees but she doesn’t do anything about it so I just pray and allow her to continue down this path I don’t know what else to do.

  12. I am the sister of an alcoholic. She has been active since she was 13 and now 32. I go to al-anon and I’m trying to detach with love but I hate her. She’s so mean, I forgive and two weeks later she will tell me I’m dead to her or that I officially have no sister as she is drinking. Sometimes I think maybe she is speaking the truth and it’s not the alcohol.

    We recently lost our dad and tonight my moms friend called me to tell me that my mom is more upset not because of my dad but because of my sister and even more so upset because I have decided I don’t want to have my sister in my life right now. She told me I’m selfish and only thinking about myself.

    This story was helpful as I was able to find some peace tonight. I’m not a bad person – I want the best for my sister but I also can’t be active in her life while she is actively drinking.

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