Twisted sisters

Joey Garcia

My sister’s boyfriend dumped her after six years, but never told her that it’s because she’s an alcoholic. For the most part, she’s a functioning alcoholic, but six years ago she lost her job because of her drinking. She then lost her boyfriend and then her home because she could not afford the mortgage on her own without both incomes. She is employed now, but still drinks heavily and goes on crying benders when she’s drunk. She cries about how her ex said he loved her every day for six years and then left her when she lost her job. She doesn’t understand that he couldn’t take her drinking anymore and was sick of her tirades against him when he told her to stop drinking. Listening to her cry bums me out, but she doesn’t have many friends except the people she parties with. Any suggestions?

Yes, stop listening to your sister. I know that you believe you are engaged in an act of compassion when you listen to her drunken laments, but addiction doesn’t work that way. An addict immersed in a story of brokenness experiences attentive listening as a validation of a need to dull pain with alcohol. She will not understand that her pain, while real, is part of the experience of being human. We all suffer, at different times, in varying amounts. Suffering may be inevitable, but it is not intended to be eternal.

Your sister does not understand that failing to manage her pain negatively impacts her evolution into holiness and wholeness. Yes, that means drinking does not qualify as pain management. Drinking is a habit of enlarging and extending pain to avoid healing it. We’ve all been in denial about something, or will. What counts then is the commitment to stop doing it.

When you remove your willingness to listen, your sister will be left with her suffering. When the pain becomes too much and she blames you for no longer caring, explain that she needs more than you are able to provide. Refer her to a psychologist who specializes in addiction issues. Give her a list of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in the area. Invite her to begin to understand that denial is not living; it’s hiding from life and love.

My son is a high-school junior and has his first girlfriend. She is a very sweet girl and my husband and I fully approve of their relationship. I just don’t know how to help my daughter, who was close friends with this girl before she and my son began dating. My daughter is passive-aggressive when the three of them are together, so my son no longer wants to include her in his activities. They have the same friend group and that makes matters worse. My daughter insists that this girl got close to her to get to her brother. That’s unlikely, but even if it were true, it’s not uncommon behavior for teenagers, is it? Anyway, how can I help my daughter accept her brother’s relationship?

Your daughter’s jealousy can be traced to the anger she feels because she believes she has been betrayed. She enjoyed her friendship with this other girl. Now that friendship is gone. From her perspective, she has lost a friend and a brother. The reality is that she is grieving, but won’t allow herself below the anger to where her sadness and fear stagnate. Until she processes those feelings, she will continue to blame your son’s girlfriend, your son and even you and your husband for her unhappiness. You must help your daughter to see the underlying issue: She is acting possessive about two people (your son and his girlfriend) that she does not possess. Remind her that possessiveness is a sign of insecurity, not love. Then help her to see the wonderful things about herself, and to behave accordingly.

Meditation of the week
“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it,” said comedian Bill Cosby. How do you birth your vision into reality?

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