Donna - san luis obispo, California
Entered on March 2, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: addiction, family
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One father. Two sisters. Two lives. This is what the story of my sister’s lives can be broken down to. Since the day I was born I watched my sisters grow up together. Only four years apart, they shared all the same friends, attended the same school, and went to all the same places together. However, each of them, both over 10 years older than I am, had one more thing in common that I did not share with them: they grew up with my father in their lives. Normally this would not be anything out of the ordinary, except for my father was plagued with the disease of addiction his whole life, and unfortunately, my sister’s faced the repercussions of his sickness. The choices my father made in his life would forever affect the choices my sisters made in theirs, and the difference in their choices is what has made me believe in the power to change.

My two sisters, Mandi, the eldest, and Jayme, the middle child, were nearly inseparable their entire lives. I looked up to both of them and wanted to grow up to be just like them. However, as we all grew older, Mandi and Jayme grew apart. The traumatizing events they experienced as children growing up with a heroin addict father came into play later in life. It is the manner in which they chose to play with the cards fate dealt them that has made me believe in the importance of choices.

Upon graduating high school, Mandi dealt with the pain from her childhood by drinking heavily and doing drugs. Two years out of school and she had already been caught with cocaine and driven her car off the road from her lack of sleep. It wasn’t long after that she began drinking everyday. She was charged with a DUI and was in and out of jail nearly every other month. She constantly reminded my family that she was the way she was because “she didn’t have it good like everyone else” when she was younger. Her choice to drink led to her choice to do drugs, which led to her legal disputes, which led to her finally choosing to unsuccessfully attempt suicide. Her choices impacted the lives of everyone around her, just as my father’s choices affected my sister.

During all of this, Jayme chose to put herself through college and get an education. She worked and went to school everyday to get the fulfilling job that she has today. She chose not to let her childhood memories be a crutch for her to be anything less than she knew she could be. My sisters experienced all of the same events as children, and the sole factor in the extreme difference in their lives is the choices that they made in handling their experiences.

I love both of my sisters more than anything in this life, and I know that if Mandi so chooses, she can turn her life around little by little each and every day. Watching my sisters grow throughout the years has made me realize that if we don’t take control and responsibility for our actions, no matter how difficult that may be at times, we can hurt all of those around us and end up somewhere we never intended to be.