Advice re: S/O's sister

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Hi everyone. I've posted before about S/O's sister. She has been addicted to opiate based pain medications for several years. She's up to over $150K GONE from her husband's military compensation payments for injuries and his pension buy out (he received a sum for each year of service when he retired). He now is working a civilian position for the military because his very good pension will never support them and cover their massive debts. He's in worse finances than when they married 25+ years ago. She's totaled her car, twice. She's stolen from many including S/O catching her the day before their step fathers funeral as she in the middle of the night broke into a lock box with valuables and was stuffing things down her pants! She's stolen their mothers medications, been doctor shopping etc. She's been terrible towards her husband and her children, to everyone really, including S/O and I. We've had zero contact with her since she moved several hours south of our town over a year ago. We quite frankly do NOT miss this version of his sister although we do hope she gets help and gets her life back on track.

    Anyhow, S/O's mother has a few times tried to facilitate a meeting with us all but it is not going to happen. We thought she was finally clear on the fact that we don't want anyone attempting to bring her and us back together to try to resolve things. We've been standing firm on being out of her life until she's not only clean but also capable of healthy relationships (She had lovely qualities pre drugs, but she also has also been selfish to a large degree, uses others often for her own wants (including us OFTEN) and we just don't want that again in our lives even if she's clean. She needs some personal growth first if that makes sense.

    Right before the weekend we had a call from mother in law asking us if sister could drop her 15 year old (a MAJOR difficult child might I add, fire starter, drug and alcohol user, thief, and worst for us he was found attempting to sexually assault his older sister in her sleep before they relocated). He would have been with us for a week. S/O took the call (I was sleeping) and firmly refused. We were quite shocked sister in law would have mother in law approach US of all people.

    Friday was Canada Day. S/O, easy child and I had gone out for several hours to a local event/fundraiser. We returned home to find a note on our door from sister in law and brother in law saying they'd been here to say "hello and stuff" and sorry they'd missed us. S/O turned a bit red (rare for him) and then locked our front door. Without words I knew it was because of sister in law's former habit of a quick rap on our door before she'd walk in of her own accord. Later in the day S/O went out to the lake on his bike. I thought the knock on the door was our neighbor across the street as she had mentioned earlier in the day that she was off to do errands but she'd pop by later as we'd been discussing my roses and she said she had rose cages she no longer had use for that would help me train my roses to grow the direction I want them to. To my shock, there was sister in law at the door. I was so mad at myself for not looking out to see who it was, I wouldn't have answered had I done so.

    I was not ignorant, my tone was very calm bordering on monotone. She attempted to walk in the house but I pulled the door closed a bit and stood in the way so she was left standing outside. She prattled on about how she'd heard of our engagement and S/O's graduation with honors and was so happy for us etc. I politely asked if there was a particular reason for her stopping by after such a long period of no contact. She said she missed us and wanted to spend some time talking with us to clear "this entire mess up" and how she needs to be able to attend her own brothers wedding. I don't know if this was right or wrong of me, but I responded in a non emotional tone but perhaps in hindsight my wording wasn't the most eloquent. I told her that I could see it being important to her but that from our perspective she is the last person we at this time would be wanting at our wedding as we can't trust her to stay clean, not make a spectacle and that we were determining our very small guest list based on those closest to us that could truly share our special day as they also share in our lives. She turned weepy and went on to say how she wants to have us in her life. I responded saying I'm sure your brother would love his own sister in his life too however her choices and lifestyle make that impossible at this time and that it would remain this way until not only was she clean but until she was capable of a healthy relationship that was never again based on using us for her own needs. She said she's been on methadone via her doctor for 3 weeks and she's "trying". I told her that S/O and I both wish her the best of luck and that we truly mean it. That it is impossible to ignore however how recently mother in law had to call a ambulance when she OD'ed on mother in law's sofa, or how recently she stole money from us, mother in law's medications, how recently we bailed out her daughter so she could EAT because the money was taken to feed her drug habit. That trust is earned and built over time and that I wish her luck on her journey but she must remember that she has left a trail of pain and hurt in her wake. She then looked at me so dazed and confused and honest to goodness asked me how on earth her drug use hurt me and S/O. I responded : That answer tells me that S/O and I are right in standing firm with tough love. That she might be on methadone instead of illegally obtained opiates but her mind is still diseased from addiction and a person working any kind of recovery will be able to see what things she did to destroy respect and trust and to hurt others. I then told her I couldn't see that there was more to say and said that we DO wish her luck and hope that she decides recovery is more than kicking the habit of the drug. I shut the door.

    S/O was a long time returning home. Old habits die hard, she knew since he was off on his bike that he'd be at the lake and sure enough she tracked him down with her husband and kids and dog in tow. Cornered him on the beach. He spoke briefly to her, her saying basically the same thing as she had to me, him saying basically the same I'd said to her. He then told her that SHE is not ready to be trying to heal broken relationships, that she needs to think of herself, her husband and kids right now, fix all of those problems and work on herself and THEN maybe she'd be healthy enough to try to repair the broken relationship between her and the two of us. He then came home.

    Well mother in law called yesterday to say that she was thrilled that although it was difficult for us all, she was so happy that we've started to mend fences with sister in law. HUH?!?!?!?! And how sister in law is up at mother in law's for the week and will be stopping by as she passes through our town again on her way home next week. HUH?!?!?! S/O did tell mother in law she'd got it wrong and obviously sister in law chose to read something into the dialogues that was NOT accurate. That the message was given clearly, we are not at this time interested in a relationship and we wish her well and firmly believe right now she needs to not worry about us but focus on herself and her husband and kids, period. mother in law then carried on at how this was destroying the family and we needed to see that sister in law is trying. Trying how exactly? By the blank look of shock that she somehow hurt us or used us? sister in law just wants her life back as she knew it and as easily as possible as to avoid the realities of facing the mess her life is in due to her choices and actions. She forgets the state of withdrawl she arrived here in at one point to go through on MY sofa in front of MY kids so that HER kids wouldn't see their junkie mother with the sweats, shakes, etc. She forgets how we had to tell her to go home and do this because our home is not the place for a detox, a DETOX might be good (and we gave her the number and offered to escort her there). She of course left here and straight to her dealers house. The same dealer I might add that she had message me online to tell me to do the world and her brother a favor and commit suicide. Um, no clue what kind of mess she's got to fix at some point? Hrmph!

    So it's going to be up to me to deal with sister in law popping up again at the end of the week, that is if S/O gets this new job he'll be at work and i"ll be alone here. We made it clear to mother in law that sister in law should NOT dare stop by again on her way through town but S/O and I both know that message won't be given as mother in law wants to play "peace keeper" among her children. So sister in law will end up on my door.

    What would you all do? Ignore her and pretend I'm not home? Open the door and say something? Nothing has changed for S/O and I in terms of where we stand with sister in law. She truly looked strung out at our door and S/O says she did to him too and he point blank said to her "methadone huh? So why do you look higher than a kite right now and ready to pass out with your head nodding off just like you always have when you're out of your tree and used to show up at my place".

    This is NOT a good week for people to push my buttons. I'm clinging to things to stay busy and to keep my mind busy as this is the week I'm told my father is going to finally be arrested. I know that when that call comes I'm going to have emotions and strong ones at that. I'm human and no superhero that can detach so completely that his arrest after 25+ years won't affect me greatly. It will NOT be a good time to tick me off as i'm sure you can all understand.

    What do you all think the right approach is here? S/O says do what I feel is right for me if he is not home to handle the situation. Mind you he says if he is home he too has no clue what the right way to handle her stopping by is either. We're both at a loss. Something tells me the wisdom on this board will offer great suggestions on what to do if she does pop by here (which we're pretty certain she will even if mother in law tells her my message to NOT show up here).
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I honestly don't know what I would do in your position. Obviously it is complex and awkward. The only thing that comes to mind is to be sure you and S/O are on the same page. Sending hugs. DDD
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks! We are on the same board. We both are open to regaining some type of relationship over time, if/when she is clean for a long period of time and has some insight into others points of view and is willing to show acknowledgement that she's done wrong to others and shows a willingness to change. Until then, both of us do not want calls, visits, family get togethers etc. We just don't want it around us. I've told S/O time and again that this is HIS sister and that if there came a time he was wanting contact with her regardless of her personal situation, I wouldn't hold it against him but that I would just stay separate from their visits. He still maintains that he is not interested and feels it isn't the right thing for him to do.

    I've told him that if he isn't here to handle her if she does stop in this week, I am not sure how to handle things. It becomes awkward in a family dynamic when the actual relation isn't here (S/O). I have dealt in the past with her stating to all and sundry that I put words in his mouth and try to tell him how to think, behave, act etc. Nonsense it all is but I'm sick of hearing it. We'll have to play it by ear but I think perhaps if I don't open the door if she turns up, it leaves open the chance she'll stop by again next time she passes through town. So I'm leaning towards answering if she turns up. I'm leaning towards keeping it simple and telling her that husband is not home but that we discussed this all in depth and that I'm following his wishes (and I agree with them as well) to ask her to stay away until such a time as he feels she has made real changes in her life that leaves her capable of a adult sibling relationship with healthy boundaries. And leave it at that. It does sound cold doesn't it? When I read back that sentence I think "Cold Fish" but I also don't want to deal with her popping up in person or in any other way.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Canadian version of a restraining order comes to mind. It can be delivered to mother in law's house.

    Otherwise it would depend on how I felt if I ignored her knock or opened the door and blasted her. Though I have found with my gfgbro that nothing short of telling him that I will call the police if he doesn't leave gets through. Even after telling him to NOT come here, NOT call, NOT leave things on my doorstep, and NOT send me letters he still interprets ANY and ALL interaction as a sign that I want a relationship and am willing to "forgive" him. I am at the point where I am working on that. Mostly because I finally realized that when my kids read a book he gives them or wears a shirt he gives them then they have awful nightmares and wake up in panic attacks begging him to not hurt them or me or husband. NO CHILD should have that - and he says that I cause that and NOT his behavior. I cause it by telling them that his awful behavior is awful, and not telling them it is normal. He actually told me that. And I LAUGHED.

    Personally, I would likely put a note on the door that if she knocks or her family knocks you will call the police. If she tries your doorknob it will be an attempted unlawful entry and you WILL press charges as until she is clean (not on methadone) and has done the 12 steps and grown up then you will NOT have anything to do with her.

    ANY interaction will be seen as you trying to mend relationships. Calling the police or getting a restraining order is different and sends a clear message. mother in law will have to cope. Alanon might be a good thing to explore this week to get some helpful ideas and support.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think I would do what you have decided. Be unemotional and blunt as possible. Treat her as much as you can as if she was a distant childhood friend of your families that you really dont want contact with again unless certain things happen.
  6. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I'm still leaning that way janet.

    Susie, until she showed up here the other day, she has not bothered us. We've had no contact, we've made no effort to get in touch nor has she. Even if she turns up to try again to speak to us this week, it wouldnt be construed in any way as harassment. I know if she has it made clear to go away, she'll stay away. Its just so awkward to find the words without using ones that will bite us years down the line. I mean, if she gets her act together, she is S/O's sister and she will be in some manner or other, in our lives even if just at holiday functions etc. So while I won't be bullied into being part of her life again, I don't want to rock the boat to some extreme level either. She also lives so many hours drive away that it is months in between chances for her to pass through our town.
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    It's hard, even when it's your bff.

    Toward the very end.......when she'd call wasted, I'd call her on it and hang up. Same way if she came over. Trust me, when you get disgusted enough with someone's behavior you have no trouble doing it, no matter who they are. With bff the personality shift was both painful and revolting to watch. I finally got to the point where I just couldn't do it anymore.

    I made it clear I was there when she chose to clean up her life, I'd support her 100 percent in treatment and recovery. Otherwise, no.
  8. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I would keep my distance, and don't budge an inch on the line you have drawn in the sand for her. If you want no contact, then don't open the door when she stops by unannounced and don't take her phone calls. No law says you have to have ANY relationship with her, period. And by the way, I'd be making sure all doors and windows are locked at ALL times. I second the idea of getting a restraining order against her. AND I would just smile and nod whenever mother in law says anything about the subject. What goes on between you, SO and sister in law is none of her business anyway.

    I think you made your position VERY clear, and her recovery is for HER to work through, not you or SO. Three weeks on methadone does not a recovered addict make. It takes YEARS and it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to the program, not to mention mental health counseling to address whatever the issues were/are that led to the addiction in the first place.
  9. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I'd be tempted to have the local pd on alert, leave the door slightly difficult to open, but not impossible, feign being away, and see if she knocks and comes on in, or knocks and leaves.

    And when she comes in, explain it was a test, and obviously, she still knows no boundaries because you don't walk into your estranged brother's home uninvited, and continue on as you have.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Adding to Shari... AND file a trespassing/breaking and entering complaint against her!
  11. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    I think I would leave a card taped to the door with her name on it. Put in writing what you told her the other day. "Take care of yourself and don't try contacting us until you can understand what your life decisions has done to our family."

    I would think it would be harder to get her to leave this next time. She has just spent time with mother in law and is not heading in any direction this time that will find someone to help her get back into your life. Time for her to push harder and longer. So, being the chicken I am with direct confrontation when I don't know how to end the conversation and ask the other person to leave, I would kind of compromise by giving the words I would want to say in a written format.

    Somehow include in the note the good qualities you use to see in her before she took this road in life. End with the strong assurance that you really hope she can find the strength to get on a healthier road but until that time, you do not want to interfere in her getting healthier by opening the door to a broken relationship. Kind of like your own mini intervention attempt.

    And it goes without saying, DO NOT ANSWER YOUR DOOR! Can you park your car down the street and go through a back yard (and neighbor's back yard if you are friends with them) to come and go without being seen in the event she decide to park outside your house waiting for you to show up?
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Not sure what they have in Canada, but I'd get a restraining order and post it on the door. Of course your mother in law wants this to heal. She probably feels old and is worried that this won't resolve before she dies. Sadly, this may not ever resolve the way she wants it to. Maybe your sister in law being a junkie is all it's ever going to be. You and your s/o have done a wonderful job of separating yourself from his sister, and you have to keep yourself separated from his mom, too. This is her dream, not yours.
  13. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thank you all for the input and understanding. I think a note on the door might be a good way to go but I think she may have already travelled home making this a moot point, for the moment anyhow.

    In regards to court orders to keep her away etc I just wouldn't do that in this situation. her showing up once after all of this time to attempt to talk was not harassment, it simply annoyed and upset S/O and I but she wasn't out of line in a legal sense, just in the sense that she is absurd to think we'd be ready to "work things out" when she hasn't worked on herself at all. Even if she hasn't returned home yet (I do believe she has though) and did stop by this week again to try once more to talk, if via telephone or in person or writing she was told to not do it again PERIOD, I do believe she'd just stay away. She's a pain in our behinds in the sense that we don't want her around until she gets her act together, she hasn't been demanding or pushy etc. Simply unrealistic in her approach at the door out of the blue with some weird belief that we'd embrace her at this point.

    I believe that if she has gone home as I suspect, my best approach might be a letter as suggested above, snail mailed to her at her own home.
  14. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Sweetie, if she doesn't stop by please do NOT mail anything to her. Sending ANYTHING other than legal papers of a restraining order will be seen as opening up a relationship in her sick sick mind. I promise. I know what I am speaking of. I have come to believe that giving ANYTHING to my niece as a gift is seen that way by gfgbro, so I won't be doing that any more. Even though it hurts to not do anything for her.

    If you send a letter saying what you told her when she was at your door, both she AND mother in law will see it as you being "open" to a relationship and "recognizing" her recovery - all 3 weeks that it hasn't been. But she will take this as being right that she is "in recovery" and things will just get worse.

    I am sorry she is so sick. I can see why legal papers are not appropriate as one visit in many months simply isn't harassment. If she doesn't come by, just be glad and don't send her anything.