Family Wellness
April 4th, 2017

Q. I have been sober for 11 months and feel that I am doing pretty well. I have a good job now and live with my older sister in her house. Everything is great except for the fact that she is extremely overprotective of me. My sister refuses to let me go out anywhere by myself, with the exception of work, which I have to leave on time for and return home from by a certain time. I know she has been through a lot with me and has almost lost me to my addiction, but I feel like I’m being smothered. I know she means well, but how can I get my sister to let me start enjoying my sober life without hurting her feelings? — Greg M., Hartford, CT

Thanks for writing in and sharing your concern and also your success! It is wonderful to hear that you have 11 months of sobriety and that your life is moving forward quite nicely. It is great to hear that you have a good job and that you believe your recovery is working for you.

It is clear from your concern about your sister that she is still struggling with perhaps trust and fear. She obviously loves you greatly to have you in her home and that she wants to make sure daily that you are OK. As many of us know, relationships can sometimes find themselves out of balance. It would seem that, even though you are doing all the right things, your sister is finding it hard to step back in some ways. This is common and can affect relationships as you know.

A few suggestions might include:

  • Asking your sister about going to one AA/NA meeting with you to see what the process is and to see the great support you have
  • Going to a meeting where there is an ALANON meeting happening at the same time and suggesting you sister go there as a way of supporting you and getting support for herself
  • Have a heart to heart about your sister’s fear and how you see the way that affects your relationship with her
  • Perhaps suggest that you go together to a therapist to discuss this issue or that she see someone individually

You are being a great role model for your sister in practicing your recovery. Remind her that addiction/recovery is a family issue and you both deserve to get support to take care of yourselves. Let her know, too, that personal responsibility is essential for you to practice in your recovery. I also like to have people remind family members how much you love them and appreciate their support and caring.

As always, you can refer your sister to Mountainside’s Family Wellness Team to support her as she navigates your relationship moving forward.

Keep doing what you are doing. You rock!!