To say I've had enough to parents enabling addict sister after 20 years?(19 Posts)
Initially I was beyond supportive to my nearly 50 year old drug addict sister. Rescued her from terrible situations, let her know I loved her. Time and time again I forgave her for lying to me and family, driving my children after taking drugs. You name it, I forgave her and supported her. She's tried rehab 3 times. Got kicked out of 1 and walked out of 2. All this time she's been living with my parents until drug dealers smashed up their house, she promised to give up drugs (again) and then caught her doing them just after. They went to counseling and realised they were enabling her behaviour to continue by allowing her to stay with them. They resolved to not have her back again. However, after seeing how she is doing absolutely nothing to help herself since she left their house, and obviously on a downward spiral they can no longer bear it and asked if she wanted to return. She has just moved back in and I have realise I just cannot be a part of this anymore. 20 years has finally taken its toll. I have told them I disagree with her coming back but it ends in an argument if we talk about it. How do I maintain a good relationship with my parents whilst I disagree so strongly with what they are doing? My sister is the sole focus in their lives. They talk about her all the time and I just can't cope any more and pretend everything is ok when I'm sure my sister is lying and manipulating than as she has done for so many years and yet another catastrophe is around the corner.
Trouble is, will they choose her over you? Can you keep in contact with them without seeing her? Tricky. I’m in a similar situation without the drug element.
That is really sad. Can you ask them not to talk about her in your presence? I would have had enough too. But there is no helping some people. And as long as your parents keep helping , she won’t really hit rock bottom and will probably continue on this cycle until she accidentally overdosed or gets killed by a drug dealer. I really feel for you. Addiction is awful.
How awful, I’m afraid I don’t have any practical advice but I know how difficult it can be when your loved ones are addicts
Oh gosh OP I’m so sorry. This must be horrific. For what it’s worth I 100% think you are doing the right thing. After all this time both you and your parents know that you aren’t actually helping her by enabling her. So you are right to stop. However with regard to your parents I think all you can do is support them. For a parent to give up on a child is almost impossible. This is what I would try to do: Say once more very clearly that you don’t agree, that you are very worried for them, that you don’t want to talk about her and that you will not be drawn into anything to do with her. But that you do want a relationship with your parents, see them at yours, take them for dinner, whatever. Don’t cut them off but set very clear boundaries and stick to them. If they mention her I would have one standard line that I would repeat but nothing more. Like ‘I’m incredible worried you are going to get hurt by her. As talking about it will lead to arguments I’m not going to go into this conversation’. But the key will be to be very very consistent. I’m sorry it’s not easy and hopefully other people will have better advice. Good luck. X
Thank you. @cherrysoup I have wondered that too and I think they are so consumed with trying to rescue her they probably would choose her. When she messes up and they are temporarily finished with her they come back to me. The best times are when she is in rehab and someone else is responsible for her. Then they are their old selves.
@notstaying in actually that helps a lot.
I think all you can do is only see them outside the house and say you don’t want to hear about her and if they try to talk about her then leave. Otherwise you are enabling them to enable her.
This sounds like such a difficult and painful situation for you FarBeyonddispair. For what it's worth I think you are entitled to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. NotStayingIn's advice sounds very good to me.
My brother was a drug addict, the best relationship I had with him was when he was in prison. I am now no contact and have been for many years. It broke my heart to see my mum in particular bail him out time and time again, but in the end, I have realised she had to do what she needed to do for herself. I couldn't tell her to change, but for my sake, I needed to step away.
There is no easy way of dealing with a situation like this one, so make sure you find support for yourself. I have ongoing therapy for a lot of reasons, but it has helped a lot in allowing me to deal with my relationship with my brother. A real-life person for you to talk to about this and what is the right thing for you to do is really important.
Have you and your parents found support for you?
Thanks for that. I do think I need some support as I have no one in real life to talk to about it. This has been something we have hidden as a family, pretending we are all great and my sister is fine. DH is great and has also supported my sister for years but he is now sick of it too and understandibly wants nothing to do with her.
Parents have been to a few meetings and had some counseling and been determined to stop enabling her, then backed down after a few days.
I'm in a more blended set up so it's slightly removed but it's my step sister. Dps have been married 30 years though. Its tearing them apart but every time she's going to change they believe her and then get upset which it inevitably ends up that it's all bollocks. I feel for her, she is extremely vulnerable, a complete target for men who abuse her, each time she thinks she's found Prince Charming. Dps usually also get taken in by these men too - 'this one is really nice' etc. I get into trouble for being cynical.
It's really frustrating and upsets my other sisters more than me. It makes me cross because of the impact on dps but she has a son who lives with her and that why she gets away with so much - we all feel for him and want to give him some stability. Whilst it it enabling, I'm very grateful for my DP and lovely friends etc and think she needs our parents more than I do. She often ends up completely alone and desperate and doesn't have a good support network because she's screwed over so many people because of drink/drugs/abusive men. It's really sad and takes over the whole family. I agree that some support to process it all for you would be helpful. You cannot absorb everyone's sadness.
I'd have nothing to do with your sister and let your parents visit you if they wish, on the proviso that your sister is never mentioned in conversation. No doubt she will bleed them dry but they are adult enough to make their own decisions. They know they are enabling her and can't stop her fucking up her life, yet they continue to put themselves through hell by having her stay. If they cannot visit without bringing her into a conversation I'd be stepping well back. It's a dreadful situation but you need to maintain your own sanity and your Dh's too. There really is only so much you can take and you've gone above and beyond.
OP I certainly don’t think you should see it as them choosing your sister over you - that’s damaging and untrue. They are trying to support her when they can see her in need but their love and care for you is separate and you should see at as that and whatever happens make sure you and your family have time with them without your sister.
I think it maybe unlikely your parents will stop supporting your sister as it’s so hard for a parent not to support a child. If you need to you should step back from that entirely. Let your parents do what they are doing (even if you don’t agree) and try and forge a separate supportive relationship with them.
Thanks everyone. It is so nice to read your replies as I feel you really understand. I do understand my parents. I imagine myself in their situation and think it would be almost impossible sit back and watch your child destroy themselves. Problem is, she still does it under their noses whilst living with them but I think they need to know where she is at night even though there is just as much chance she will overdose there as anywhere. I just hate what she has done/continues to do to them, her complete inability to do anything for herself, her excuses, lies, bringing dealers into my lovely parents lives, stealing from them. I am at a stage where I hate everything about her in fact. But I know I will be seen as unreasonable when I don't want to see her at Easter etc. and get a load of grief from my mum. How do I deal with situations like that? I just can't pretend everything is alright anymore.
I can totally see where your c coming from ,she's their child no matter how old she is and whilst they are not doing her any favours it must be a difficult position for them to be in , I think you are probably going to have to.accept you can't change the situation, you can ask them not to speak about her o you but wether they will or not ?
It will be hard and your parents are going to find it difficult to deal with it when you don't want to play your part in pretending everything is fine. I think you need to sit down and be really clear with them about what you need to do and that this is for the sake of your own health and wellbeing. Then you need to make sure you have your support in place for when things get difficult. It sounds like your dh will be on board with this decision and can support you. You could also look at finding a counsellor or therapist for you to talk to and work through your feelings with of this is something you feel open to trying.
You don't need to draw a line in the sand and say this is forever, but it sounds like you are really burnt out right now and for everyone's sake need to take time to step away and look after yourself. It might be that once you have your support in place and have worked out your own feelings than you will be in a better position to offer support in a sustainable way, or you might find that it is better for you to stay away long-term. Right now you sound like you just need a break and some care for you.
I think if your parents had left her in her downward spiral at some point she would have hit rock bottom or ended up dead.
Realistically if she had hit rock bottom then your sisters would have felt the need to change herself and that would have been the time for your parents to help.
If she had ended up dead then it would have just been bringing the inevitable to an end sooner rather later and taking one or both of your parents down with her.
The stress they are inflicting on themselves must be huge and not doing either of them any good
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