Observations from an Alcoholic’s Sister ~ Emotions
There are so many different emotions family members of alcoholics feel. One emotion I definitely felt was anger. I was angry because of what I saw Richard’s alcoholism doing to him and to our family, especially mom. I felt as though Richard was being selfish and unappreciative of all that mom and dad were doing in hopes of him getting sober and it made me furious.
I understand alcoholism is a brain disease but like any disease most do what they can to control or get rid of their disease, most don’t let the disease control them or end their life without some sort of fight. Alcoholism is a beast to control and I saw firsthand how strong the cravings were but I still felt Richard could have tried a little harder to gain the strength to overcome his craving for alcohol, not just by going to several 30 day rehab facilities but through extensive therapy, possibly medication and certainly making a new group of friends. It was hard but I had to accept that Richard was not me and what I would have done and what he was doing are things I had no control over no matter how badly I wished I had. Alcoholism is the alcoholic’s disease yet sadly their disease is one that affects every single member of their family.
I know mom was angry because no matter what she did or how much she asked there was not one thing she could do to get Richard sober. It was all up to him and believe me if there was anything mom could have done, she would have if it aided in his sobriety.
I remember during one of my visits mom and I were sitting outside on the patio and she told me, “you know when Richard was little I could put a band aid on any scrape or cut and that would fix it, but with alcoholism I can’t do a thing”. Honestly, I think a little part of my heart died the day she said those words. I could feel her pain as well as see it on her face. We just sat there continuing to talk, while inside sat her only son and my only brother drunk, heavily into alcoholism and there was not a single thing either of us could do but feel helpless, pained and sad.
Besides feeling anger, pain, helplessness and sadness I often experienced feelings of guilt and regret. Many times I wished I could have gone back and taken the one drink from Richard’s hands that started his fatal journey with alcoholism. I wished I had been more aware of the issue as it was starting and felt guilt and regret that I hadn’t noticed until it was too late. In some odd way I felt responsible as his older sister because I didn’t notice. After all, when we were younger if I saw Richard doing things I knew he shouldn’t I would tell him to stop or make him think about the consequences of his “not so bright idea” and this usually made him stop. If it didn’t, the bossiness that came next made him wish he had.
If it were up to the alcoholic’s family, all alcoholics would be sober but unfortunately this is not the case. Sobriety is 100% up to the alcoholic, not their parents, siblings or friends.