My Sister’s Addiction – Part III

May 4, 2015

in Family, Home Life, Self Awareness

34f4555e6b5fa3ddc7954437b9783961I love the Real Housewives. I watch all of them except New York which I lost interest in Season 1. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is one of my favorites, but like them all, the overly dramatic screaming and diva fighting is getting old. Most of it is contrived, and in my opinion, one step away from being scripted. But there is one story line that isn’t scripted and is very much reality.

Kim Richards and her addiction/alcoholism.


Kim and Kyle are sisters and both are on the show. Kim is the addict/alcoholic and Kyle is the stable(ish) one. Their relationship plays out on a national screen and for me, it’s heart wrenching and frustrating and is so much like my relationship with my sister that it’s hard to ignore. Kim has been on shaky ground since the shows conception. The rumors of alcoholism has followed her wherever she goes and it’s obvious to almost everyone expect Kim herself, that she has a serious problem. As the seasons roll on her addiction starts being a main story line with other sister Kyle thrown in the mix simply because they are sisters.

Somewhere, somehow, to no fault or input of her own, Kim’s addiction has become Kyle’s problem.

Not just on national TV, but through casts members assumptions and strangers on social media.

I’ve been there. Actually, I’m probably still there. People accuse me of not doing enough for my sister. Mostly this comes from my sisters masterful ability to deflect her issues onto someone else. Since I am all that is left of our immediate family, the burden and blame of that deflection always falls to me. My sister, and Kim, have become experts in blaming others for all they have not done, without mentioning all that they have. This is the epitome of manipulation and addicts are so, so good at it.

I hear the questions being asked to Kyle as to why she doesn’t ‘make’ Kim go to rehab. Why she doesn’t do more. Why. Why. Why… over and over again the questions about Kim’s addiction fall to being Kyle’s responsibility. I see myself echoed in those questions. It’s not anything that hasn’t been asked of me. I wish I had the ability to wave the magic wand or speak rationally to my sister that she needs rehab, but like the thousands of times I have brought it up over the past eight years of her addiction, those words fall on deaf ears. The sad truth is that I can’t make my sister go get help anymore than Kyle can make Kim.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

That’s the first step in Alcoholics Anonymous. It doesn’t say because…after it. There isn’t any room for excuses in the first step. If you have to add a because…my sister wasn’t there for me. Because…someone close to me died. Because…I had a crappy childhood…whatever. If you have add onto that first step, then you are doing the first step wrong and you are not ready for that first step.

Sibling relationship are often complicated enough without adding blame, lies and manipulation on top of it. Last I heard, Kyle and Kim have not talked in five months. I am in the same boat with my sister. We haven’t spoke since she left rehab early. I think there comes a time where you just can’t take the ME! ME! ME! antics of the addict and you turn your focus to where they should be, on the family and friends that support and encourage you. I’ve said it before a 100 times. I could give my sister the shirt off my back and she will publicly complain that I didn’t give her my shoes and socks. It’s a never ending cycle of blame.  When I watch those shows and I see the exhaustion, frustration, sadness and anger in Kyle’s eyes. I get it. There is nothing written in the family code or DNA of family that says you are the responsible party for anyone other than yourself. Although it is hard and takes time and distance to give yourself permission to do just that, permission to release yourself from that liability.

I’ve set up firm boundaries for re-building a relationship with my sister, things she must accomplish before we enter into any conversation. I hope, at some point, these things get done but they have to be on her time-line and when she is ready. Strong arming her into any sense of recovery wouldn’t work for the long term (see above for the “left rehab early” comment.) If there is no desire from the addict to change then there will be no change.

While I want to remain optimistic, I am not holding my breath. Life is too short to stop and wait for a person to catch up. I hope Kyle can do that. Move on and re-focus. Her life will be healthier for it.

1 Karen May 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Stay strong! I’ve never seen the Housewives but have heard of Kim and her addiction. Now I’ll pay attention when Kyle’s name comes up.

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