This I Believe

Kayla - Wilmington, Massachusetts
Entered on December 13, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

You cannot spare someone’s life if they are unwilling to help themselves. I have come to this belief after witnessing the deterioration of my sister due to her addiction of drugs and alcohol. These detrimental habits began at a young age and my family continually tried to deliver her from possible ruin. Over time, I have come to believe that you can only put so much effort into helping a stubborn person. Certain people will choose to disregard all of your advice. It is left for them to decide what path they will follow.

When I was of a young age, my parents became divorced. This was not a great ordeal for me to face. I was too young to even recite my ABCs. My father began dating again and was married to my stepmother by the time I was seven years old. My sister did not take to this lightly. She had always seemed to be a somewhat opinionated, hostile child and enjoyed no part of having such a drastic change occur. She and my stepmother disagreed very often. My sister had attempted seeing a psychiatrist, however this therapy failed to appease the resentment she held within. By the time she reached the age of fifteen or so, she began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. She often went to parties and would come home intoxicated way beyond her limit. Several times, she was drunk to the point of unconsciousness and my parents prayed for her life. I was still too young to fully comprehend the dangers that my sister faced on a daily basis. She was dangling her life in front of her own innocent eyes with every sip of tequila, every hit of marijuana.

Not long after, I awoke one morning to find an alarming note on the table saying that she had run away. It merely ended with, “Don’t worry about me anymore.” She was missing for several days and it opened my eyes…completely. Barely an adolescent, I began to recognize the signs I had previously missed, piecing them together to form an entirely new image of this girl. She had become someone that my family did not recognize.

That, unfortunately, was not the only time that she left our home. She had aspirations of moving to California. It was her superficial desire to live there and forget all of her troubles. She dropped out of high school and actually followed through with her plans. She continued to abuse substances during those few years spent on the West Coast. My parents and I always feared that we would one day receive a phone call pronouncing her dead. I missed her greatly, yet the time spent away from her shaped my new ideas of the ability for people to heal over time.

Today, my sister resides with a friend of hers about thirty minutes away. She has a job, supports herself financially, and has mostly rid herself of those destructive habits. Though she is within driving distance, she continues to exclude herself from my family. It has been difficult for all of us, however we have learned to not expect the occasional phone call or holiday card. I believe that a time of independence was needed for her to decide where she was headed in the future. As much as it hurt for me to pull away, in the end it allowed her to overcome prolonged inner struggles.

Learning to deal with the experiences of my sister also assists me with other relationships. I have grown to accept others’ choices when I discern that I cannot help them. I believe in letting go of a person to permit their self-discovery, while still always offering a lending hand.