Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Unreciprocated Efforts

One of the most bothersome aspects of dealing with an addict/recovering addict, is the lack of reciprocated efforts. To start, I guess I am one of those people who is very giving to begin with. (Or at least I like to think I am.) Giving of my time, my resources, and certainly my support. So nothing chaps me more than when someone isn't willing to reciprocate my efforts. Its not that I expect a lot in return, just let me know you care as much about me as I do about you. Pretty simple. Really, I am pretty easy to please.

But on the flip side, I am no doormat either. I was at one time, but if there is one positive thing I have gained from my sister's addiction, it is how and when to put my foot down and not be used or manipulated. It has changed my character some, I admit, and some people like the change and some don't. But therein lies the problem. Now that I know how I should be treated, it bothers me to no end when I don't get the respect and kindness I shell out, and feel I, in turn, deserve.

My sister is terrible at returning phone calls! Which is a gross understatement. This is a major peeve of mine. And that is an understatement too. I have cried over it, been worried sick over it, been angry over it....you name it. See, when my sister is using, she disappears. She doesn't answer her phone or check her messages, she ignores texts, and then she only resurfaces when she needs something. Its crappy, plain and simple. And like I said, it makes me sad, angry, and worried. It makes me nuts.

But the problem extends even to when she is sober. I was talking to a friend today, and explained to her that for every 10 phone calls I put in to my sister, I get one back. And that one is usually about a 3 minute conversation. Or one-sided with me driving it, since getting her to talk is usually like pulling teeth. Its not easily done.

Plain and simple, addicts are selfish. Addiction is a selfish disease. In the throws of trying to get their next fix, addicts will do anything - and I mean anything - to get their next fix. They will literally beg, borrow, steal, cheat, manipulate, guilt, lie, to obtain what they want to get what they need. And unfortunately, that self-centeredness doesn't completely disappear overnight when the addict gets clean. As humans, we all have the "me, me, me" complex to begin with, but addicts have it to the extreme.

And while I understand this is the way she is, it doesn't change the fact that it bothers me. It will always bother me. A call deserves a call back. An effort deserves an effort in return. A relationship needs to be 50-50. Of course, with my sister, I would settle for 80-20. But I feel like its 95-5, and sometimes it leaves me wondering, why in the world do I try so hard? If she were anyone else, would I put up with this? Nope. But she's my sister, she's different, and as much as I hate her lack of reciprocity, I love her with all my heart, so I let it slide and silently deal with it. Time and time again.