(Trigger warning) To only see my sister without my children(36 Posts)
...whilst she is using heroin?
She was sexually assaulted aged 11 and has understandably struggled ever since. She's had periods of self-harm, prostitution, prison & psychiatric hospital.
We've wanted to love her through everything & have always kept contact, she's lived with us twice. My children are now 8 & 6 and love her loads. We have tried to explain in an age-appropriate way & it's worked until now.
Just found out (tonight) that she's started smoking heroin & I'm ashamed to say that my first reaction is to think that I don't want my children anywhere near her.
I am terrified for her but can't bear the thought of how this could all end & just want to protect my kids. Don't want to 'punish' my sister though & I know that her relationship with her nieces & nephews is one of the best things in her life.
What would you do?
5 days clean is a great start fingers crossed for you and your family
I would probably only allow kids to see her occasionally, when as sober as possible, with me there. Perhaps if she knew that she would have more contact with them if she was clean, it could add another + on her list to sort it out, so it could be a positive thing to look forward to. I probably wouldn't cut her off completely, but not allow unsupervised company with the kids, incase she fell ill from the drugs or was high etc.
Thanks everyone, really appreciate the replies. So sorry that I am by no means alone in these dilemmas.
Had some good news today, she's called my Mum & asked her to go round. My mum said she said she knew she'd made a big mistakd & she wants to stop, apparently gone 5 days without smoking. So hope it's true. Going to pop over to see her tomorrow to see for myself how she seems.
Best wishes to all of you & your relatives also going through this x
IME she will end up a ghost of who she used to be and steal your stuff. Nothing matters apart from getting the next hit and she will not stop unless she wants to herself and gets a lot of help. It will confuse your Dc's seeing her doped up and jittery and the mood swings won't help either. Unpredictable selfish behaviour will start and it won't be long before she's injecting it.
I was 19 when I got in to a relationship with someone like this and when I found I was pregnant I ran for the hills finally seeing I had a way out. The man in question died shortly after.
Sorry for the depressing story but this is so serious what yor sister has now got in to. You need to step back and think what you want your kids to see.
Totally torn on this one. Completely understand the instinct to keep them apart. But also perhaps they need to see it so they know first hand the effect. I have an alcoholic father and we do let our children see him. But never at his house (it's disgusting). My 4 year old already knows there's something not quite right about him. She doesn't see him as a grandfather. Personally I would stipulate not being high when she sees them and that you leave if she is. Meet not at her place so no risk of them finding her equipment. Horrid situation. I wish you all the best whatever you decide.
Maryz - You're right , but in my case, as soon as my sister discovered that her nephews knew that she was an addict, she made the decision to go into rehab. She would have continued plodding along if I had stopped them seeing her. She needed to see them looking at her with sadness iykwim. She was completely clean for seven years and did it for them (until she fell in love with another unsavoury character and went back to square one).
Emma - it is hard to say she can only see them when she's not high, as heroin addicts are on something pretty much all the time - in fact this is the only time they will appear vaguely normal. If she was withdrawing or had no drugs in her system she will be a sweating, shaking mess and very scary for a child to see.
That is what gets to me. How is someone who is off their face on a powerful mind-altering drug safe to be around a small child? Every time my botherspicks her up dd to hug her, I am hovering worrying he is going to drop her, and if I say anything he gets defensive.
Sorry don't want to make this thread all about me, just trying to identify with the op's concerns to make other posters understand what it's like.
I feel for you, my brother was injecting heroin and after several failed attempts at detoxing is now taking a maintenance dose of a substitute and is not showing any signs of wanting to stop, and may or may not be taking stuff on top of it. I struggle to know what to do. He loves dd (2) and she him, but sometimes I feel that I just do not want my Dd growing up with a junkie as an uncle, and I have a duty to not expose her to things like that. I also feel that he shouldn't really be able to continue playing happy families, and in a way perhaps being faced with the choice of a normal family life vs. the life of an addict might be the only way that he can hit rock bottom an have the incentive to stop.
We have also given him lots of support over the years, and I have also had him live with me. Now I wonder if a little tough love is the only option left. Despite my resolve, he still does see her, especially when she sees my mum, and I haven't been brave enough to put my foot down.
I hope you find a resolution soon, and I wouldn't blame you at all whatever you decide. It is heartbreaking being related to an addict.
I wouldn't keep my children away from her entirely - I think that would be too cruel, like another kick in the teeth. You say she loves them and is a great aunty. I would speak to her about it and say you don't want the kids to be around her when she's high.
I know it's not easy having a family member with an addiction but in my experience cutting someone out rarely produces the "lightbulb" moment described here, but rather accelerates their decline and isolation.
I had to do this with my sister when she brought a risky person to live with her
and her DC a year ago.
DD used to love spending time with her aunt but this man is so dodgy...
I am unreasonable because he has eight kids of his own, you know and will shortly after a court-case be able to see the under-age ones following an accusation of abuse which was apparently all spite.
How my sister's social worker justifies this I do not know, but she does.
Keep your children safe OP.
God that is heartbreaking, but your kids have to be your priority.
Her addiction is now hers.
Don't put them through this. She/you have a choice, they don't.
I'm in a similar position, I do not see my brother much but I do not stop him from seeing my son (but he is only 22 months old so could be quite different to your circumstances as your children will pick up on so much more). My brother has used a long time but he's generally ok when we see him and I do not feel he is any danger to my son. If I did at any point I'd walk straight out of the situation. You have my sympathies though, it is heartbreaking.
Is she interested in coming off the heroin?
Has she expressed any interest in rehab?
I would not let my children see her while she is an active addict. I know from experience that the only thing that makes addicts stop is a fear of something greater than fear of losing the drugs. Maybe fear of losing her beloved nieces/nephews will make her think?
Boundaries are so difficult with addicts. We all think that if they are happy they will stop using, so we want to make them happy. But it seldom works.
I have a good friend in a similar position and whilst not a panecea she has found that really tight boundaries of the kind you are proposing work for her family. Good luck.
Yes Edendance, I think letters or texts might be a good idea for now, thanks.
Could you perhaps encourage them to write to her 'while she's not well'? Perhaps contact like that could give her a goal- something and a relationship to aim towards rather than no contact at all.
Thanks madlovitt. Heartbreaking stuff this.
Footface. Hope things improve for you & your relative very soon.
I am in a similar position to you , OP.
My kids adore their auntie but know she is a heroin addict. I remember them watching her carefully on one of her rare visits when they were really small and later asking me what was wrong with her as they had realised how oddly she was behaving.
I explained as best I could and they accepted it. She too had had an awful experience as a teenager, which led her down that road. My kids bristle when anyone uses terminology referring to 'scummy junkies' within earshot, as they love her and feel so sad for what might have been.
I've been in a similar situation with a relative. My dc are younger than yours though so its a bit easier. It's a difficult situation, and I've found that the person they were before the drugs isn't there anymore, and a sort if shell is left.
Your dc's must be your main concern and yanbu to stop contact for them. They don't need to see it
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