Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Old habits die hard

So yesterday afternoon, my brother called to inform us that my sister had missed her flight to Sacramento, where he was to pick her up and then drive up here for Christmas. My brother, understandably, was pretty angry. The rest of us were thinking, "Here we go AGAIN!"

My sister has a track record for missing flights. In fact, this is the second or third one she has missed this year alone. She has a long track record of irresponsible or flaky things she has done.

Since my sister started drinking at age 15, she never really learned to be in charge of herself, or to fix her own mistakes. Drinking and drugs halt a person's growth to maturity. Until a year ago, at age 23, she was stuck in the mind of a 15 year old. So she is now somewhere in the range of 16 or 17. Most teens aren't entirely capable of thinking everything through. But that's no secret, is it?

The reason my sister missed her flight is because she didn't take into account that she had to be at the airport 3 hours early, as opposed to 1 and a half hours early, because of the extra volume of people flying during the holidays. In a way, I guess its an honest mistake, but most 24 year olds would be able to think that far ahead. I am in no way making excuses for her missing the plane, nor am I trying to cast her into a bad light or embarrass her. I am simply trying to make a point (which is now seeming to be two-fold).

Not only is my sister locked into the mind of a 16 year old, but she is also locked into behavior patterns that 8 years of drug and alcohol abuse created. Anyone who is close to a user knows that they do wierd, irresponsible, flighty things constantly. They thrive on drama, and don't like taking responsibility for their own actions. Everything is out of their control (or so they think) and things just "keep happening" to them "at random." They live from crisis to crisis, and drama to drama. Their life becomes full of it, and it is what they live on and live for. And sometimes, I think they create it just to feel "normal." (I am using these parenthesized words quite loosely.)

At the height of her using, my family had a little saying; "The only thing you can count on, is that you can't count on her." It was 100% true, too. She would skip out on her jobs, important dates, doctor appointments... Sometimes I think she just didn't want to go, other times I think she just plum flaked. But it became a pattern, and like all patterns, it became more and more ingrained with every new day.

So now you see where I'm going with this. While she is now clean and for the most part pretty responsible now, there are still patterns that are so deeply rooted, that she still has these pretty flaky, flighty tendencies. And for us, its still pretty darn frustrating.

In her defense though, she did own up to her problem and came up with the best solution she could. She booked another flight, and paid (monetarily for the flight, and situationally with my brother's anger) for her mistake. So at least its a step in the right direction. I'm proud of her for that.

So habits can be broken, it just takes time and continual work. And that gives me hope and inspiration to work on my own bad habits. (Uh oh. Conviction.) Because if she can put her bad habits to rest, so can I.

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