real life

"The white picket fence is falling." How my sister's ice addiction has torn our family apart.

Picket by picket, the perfect white fence is falling.  

A lying, deceitful human addicted to ice.  

Lifetime friendships hanging on by lies. Family relationships shredded with only two of us left speaking to her.  

How did the eldest of four siblings get to this point? We were not raised to be like this. We were loved, supported and cared for. We never wanted for anything. 

She is the eldest child, followed by two younger sisters and a brother. My sister has always been loud, adventurous and the boss. She gets her way every time. Her energy is overpowering and her mood dictates the minute, the hour, the day you are with her. 

She could be intoxicatingly fun and before you knew it you were singing your heart out to a song loud and proud when she cranked it up on the car stereo. 

She was the organised one. If you needed a resume, letter or application she would have it done for you before you knew it. She was the one who sorted out Mum and Dad’s tech issues and was a keen volunteer for events in Melbourne. She offered her time to help people learn how to drive through a volunteer program. She offered professional opinions, she loved talking about politics, world economics, had a great social conscience and also loved to watch some good trashy TV. She was an eclectic person who was motivated and excelled at her job.

She always loved to party but also made sure rent and bills were paid. She always turned up to work no matter how much sleep she didn’t get. 

'Work hard, play hard' has been her motto since she was 18 years old. She's been a recreational drug user for over 25 years. Es, coke, K, MD, LSD, speed, ice, pot. It was a mixed lolly bag most weekends. Some would say she was greedy with drugs; she would say she just loved to indulge.  

Throughout this partying, she managed to keep a professional job and maintain good friends and family relationships. Our relationship has had its ups and downs, but now we are going so far down that we won't ever fully recover. 

I have witnessed the destruction of addiction too much in my adult life. I never ever thought it would be my sister. 

She is a crumb of her former self. It is like she has an acquired brain injury.  

Things started to become more apparent after the 2020 COVID lockdowns in Melbourne. On Christmas day, she was two-and-a-half hours late to our family Christmas and upon arrival looked disheveled, confused and out of it. She had mum in the family Kris Kringle and gave her secondhand gifts. It was the last Christmas we would ever have Mum with us, as she passed away in March 2021. I am still astounded and so regretful that happened to Mum.

Listen to Mia Freedman interview Heidi about her life as a secret alcoholic. Post continues below. 

How did addiction take over after so many years of control? 

Lockdowns, depression, spending time with new people who fed and continue to feed the addiction, selfishness, loneliness and bad life choices.  

Of course, many of us have been exposed to these things but not all of us become addicts.     

The addiction is so bad that she lies about everything and can’t remember what she has or hasn’t told people. She is no longer the sister I grew up with.

Missed events with nephews, welfare checks from her younger sisters', arriving late to Mum’s funeral without the first page of her eulogy, covering up that she has people living with her, stealing from Dad and treating all of us as if we're oblivious to what's going on, are all small slices of the hell our whole family are experiencing.  

She lies and says she is not using. Ice addiction obliterates any moral or ethical line an individual has. I can’t always separate the addictive behavior from the person because her actions and choices have hurt me so much. 

Sister, I am here waiting for you to want to stop the addiction. I can’t do it for you. It has to come from you.  

I will continue to wait. And in the meantime, I'll do my best. 

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