Losing My Sister to Addiction
Losing my sister Lane to addiction – there isn’t a tougher subject I could write about. Both as a sister and as an addiction counselor for nearly 30 years. Addiction is a a killer. It’s a disease that touches nearly every family so I write this for myself, but also for those of you that know what it’s like to be in the trenches – no matter which side of the ditch you’re on.
Usually I write from a safer professional distance about helpful addiction tools and topics but today I write from a deeper personal place. My sister died from alcoholism May 17th 2013 at the age of 56. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one or fear losing a family member, you’ll understand from the inside out what I’m talking about when I say there was a mixture of emotions when we got the call that she was gone. I felt relieved, anguished, sick, sad, angry, resentful – because once again there was a mess she was leaving someone else – often me – to deal with from her illness and the choices or lack thereof.
Lane was artistic, bright, bold and so beautiful. One time she placed a personals ad saying she was “drop dead gorgeous” a phrase I wouldn’t have had the brashness to say about myself even if it was true – believing that it’s better to under promise and over deliver. But that was Lane.
When I was 4 our parents brought her home from the hospital and placed her in my arms. It was an incredible moment to look into her face and be filled with wonder about having a sister and what that would mean. By the time she was 2 and had moved into my room the glow had begun to fade. Though we had our moments of joy and closeness, there was a wall of depression and angst that followed Lane throughout her childhood and right into adulthood. Her gifts were many but she had trouble connecting with others and with herself. No doubt her troubles came partly because of parental addiction and due to divorce and being shipped around to relatives.
By her thirties Lane was struggling with alcohol and then began her attempts at sobriety – 3 treatment programs, but not much AA or therapy to bind the learning. Diagnosed as bi-polar disorder she eventually went on disability and lived a financially marginal life. But for many years she was fulfilled by the simplicity of her life and the challenge of her art. I knew her art would be her legacy. As I’ve shared about her passing, I’ve heard story after story about others losses – a daughter to heroin at 30, a brother at 41, a sister at 38.
I’ll end on this note – I don’t believe the addiction profession has done a good enough job with treatment. It’s complicated and I have more to say about that subject. Also, society has been too slow to release the judgment that addiction is a moral problem rather than a true disease. To Lane and all those that have died too soon, and struggled too long and to us who are on the journey with them – Blessings…..and may the light that shines brightly in our loved ones, find peace. (Free Mp3 20 minute overview Intentional JOY & Stress Busting Guided Imagery for Peace http://www.addictionmodesto.com/