Today is a shitty day. I had a shitty day of surgeries at work so I left early to take a walk, get some air, and try to feel better. Just as I thought I was able to breathe again I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. I ignored it and they called again. Somewhere deep down I knew something was wrong, but I didn't call it back. I struggle with fairly severe anxiety so I told myself it was probably nothing and I was over reacting by feeling worried. I hoped that it was just a SPAM call or bill collector (who hopes for a bill collector? First time for everything).
I started to calm down and then my stepdad called. Now I knew something was up. My initial worry that something had happened to my mom was relieved, but only when I found out the problem is my sister.
My sister is a heroin addict.
Four years ago at the age of 20 my sister went to a rehab for alcohol addiction. While in rehab she was targeted by some scumbags and she started "dating" one and he got her hooked on heroin. Or rather, he assisted her with getting herself hooked on heroin. That's the short version of her heroin origin story.
The first time I found out my sister did heroin I was sick to my stomach. This is something you see on television, not a situation you actually deal with in real life. But it is real life for some people, and now it's a part of my family's real life. As a family we dealt with what it meant to have a heroin addict amongst us. There are many addicts in my mom's family, so addiction itself isn't new, but heroin is. I have now had the experience of watching someone try to detox from heroin. I wish this experience on no one.
We got lucky two years ago when my sister got pregnant. She had gone to my mother and told her she wanted to get clean and detox. My mom is an amazing person and she did all she could to help my sister during the hardest days in the beginning of detox. And then three weeks into her trying to get clean we discovered she was pregnant. We were lucky because she stayed clean for her entire pregnancy, unlike some addicts who use anyway. She didn't love herself enough to stop, but she loved my nephew enough to not want him to be born an addict. My nephew seemed to change my sister for the better, as I hear children can do, but she relapsed when he was about a year old. And then she got clean again. And then she relapsed again. That time they found her blue in a fast food bathroom with a needle in her arm, it was a close call and it was terrifying. And then she got clean again. And recently she told me she has been having cravings but that she has been working out and doing positive things instead of drugs and I was so proud. And now she's in jail.
My sister is a heroin addict and I'm mad. I'm mad that this is a disease that never goes away. I'm mad that I will always be afraid when a number I don't recognize calls my phone. I'm mad that I have to keep explaining to people who call and text at inappropriate hours and fucking tell me that they will change my life when they inform me about the "Do Not Disturb" feature on my phone that this feature doesn't work unless I add every single hospital in the area to my Do Not Disturb list because a hospital isn't going to call three times to get through. I'm mad that my sister is in a jail cell right now and I have no way of making sure she's okay. I'm mad I've watched so many crime shows that in my head she is being beaten up in said jail cell because she has a big mouth and a bigger attitude to go with it. I'm mad that we have already made funeral arrangements just incase. I'm mad at the possibility of my nephew growing up without a mother. I'm mad that even if he has one, she will always be an addict. I'm mad that I originally posted this under my real name and was forced by family to remove it and told not to discuss my feelings on the matter out loud.
My sister is a heroin addict and I'm sad. I'm sad that she will never know a normal life as someone who is not an addict. I'm sad that she was so lonely and depressed she felt she had to turn to drugs instead of us. I'm sad I wasn't there for her more, and that I'll never know if it would have mattered. I'm sad that my mom has to deal with an addicted child and all of the negative things that come with it. I'm sad that rather than be retired and enjoy old age and the end of life, my mom is raising my nephew. I'm sad that I have wanted to write about this for a long time but have felt too selfish and exploitive of her problems to do it. I'm sad that I don't feel like I can openly discuss her addiction with anyone without seeing judgment in their eyes. I'm sad for me. I'm sad that I feel guilty and selfish for being sad when I'm not the addict who is in a jail cell. I'm sad for my mom. I'm sad for her son. I'm sad that she doesn't understand that she hurts all of us more than she hurts herself. I'm sad that this disease is likely going to kill her and it doesn't feel like there's anything I can do to stop it.
My sister is a heroin addict and she's in jail and I am exhausted.
The post originally appeared on Medium.