UPDATE: How do you push past the fear?


I was finally able to reach my sister in the rehab she is currently in and despite being afraid of her phone call, it went really well. I could tell in the beginning of the phone call she was scared of what I might have to say but as soon as she heard how happy I was to speak with her, her attitude totally changed. In the past, she has spoken so much about her addiction that we’ve never been able to move on to any other topic during any discussion. But this time, I told her about this course and how I was working harder to understand and gain knowledge of everything while still setting boundaries for myself. Her response was great and we were FINALLY able to move onto another topic. She even asked me specific questions about how certain things were going in my life.

At first all I felt was joy, we were back to normal it felt like. But now I’m back to my fear. I’m afraid that she’ll think all the help I’m getting is going towards ONLY helping her so if she uses again, she’ll expect me to do more. At one point in the call she asked “Can you do me a favor?” and I almost freaked out. I said maybe and her favor was only to watch a movie, but the thought of something more scared me. I know if she asks me for money or a place to stay while claiming, or is actually, better and I say no, she’ll claim that I’m not helping her in the right way. She’s only 19 and I want the best for her, but on the opposite side, I’m only 22. Denying her a place to stay in the past has always haunted me. When a friend took her in instead, she ended up betraying that person but I know if she is better, or claiming to be, that she’ll say that won’t happen, she’ll say it will never happen. What do I do in the future if she says she’s clean, and may actually be, and needs help? Am I supposed to consider that it might possibly might not be true? Or am I supposed to help her and risk it all being a lie?


Thank you for the update @Ivy17 and I’m so glad that you’re beginning to learn some tools and new ways of supporting your sister and yourself through our evidence-based approach :slight_smile: lot’s more good skills to come!

Firstly, it’s natural to feel an emotional response when we’re used to patterns that have been painful in the past. It took me quite a while during my partner’s early recovery to heal that knee jerk reaction of “oh something’s wrong” and we all have different ones. The more we can notice what these are for us and our unique relationship, the more we can breathe through them and do reality checks (to test whether your emotions are matching up with reality of the situation) and set limits (create plans to implement ahead of a brake point so you never reach it!) around them. So you got a sense of limits from the last answer…

For reality checks, we want to:

  1. hold awareness of our emotion (so perhaps it’s anxiety that she’ll ask too much) then,
  2. use our analytic mind, stepping out of emotions, either in the moment or later when emotion has passed (maybe do some long deep breathing to help it pass) then reality check: did she ask too much of me?
  3. in this case it seems like you were pleasantly surprised, so note that as evidence for a reality where she’s not always asking too much

This doesn’t mean it won’t take time to heal these knee jerk emotional reactions, but we can start to build up evidence that changes are taking place. To prepare for the scenario that may play out differently, if she was to ask too much, go back to your positive communication tips to plan how you’d respond - you can do that now and practice ahead of time so if / when this situation arises you’re prepared to communicate in a calm and loving way that allows you to express empathy for your sister and continue living within your limits.

Another helpful tool here would be problem solving:

  1. Brainstorm all the things that could go wrong with you plan (eg. you build deeper and supportive connection, then your sister thinks you should give her a place to stay)
  2. Brainstorm all the possible solutions - what are the possible ways you could avoid this? (eg. talk with the counselor at the rehab to make sure this is a high priority part of her plan post-rehab, talk with other supports in the family or friends who might be able to step up if needed, explore her openness to trying a sober living or other live in outpatient option post-rehab, plan your communication about your limits around what you will and won’t be able to do to support her - such as always loving her, and maintaining your health and wellbeing so you can support her, which may involve helping her find a place to live that’s not with you)
  3. Circle all options you like and want to follow through on (discard options you couldn’t see yourself doing)

Just a couple ideas for you :slight_smile: I know it’s a really tough situation, but it’s so great to hear she’s getting recovery support now and that you’re able to open up communication lines because it is through communication that we connect deeper and can better be heard by our loved one’s to support their recovery journey.

One additional note from my experience: a stable and supportive living environment is important post-rehab, but because while they’re in rehab their whole mind and body is really going through the ringer in terms of just surviving each day without using and beginning the healing process, it can be hard for them in this state to make plans, so the more we (whether it’s you and your dad, or any other people in your support network) can help in the logistics the better to make sure they’re set up for success post-rehab.

It’s clear you really care about your sister, make sure you take extra care of you while you have this break where she’s being taken care of!



I think transparency and clear communication is important in any relationship, especially in early recovery. I think it’s also important for the person in recovery to understand that they’re not the only ones in the relationship who is healing. Communicate your boundaries with your sister, how you are willing to support her recovery, what you need from her in order to provide that support, and explain why. What I’ve learned in being married to someone in recovery is that there can be no more of this “Well he/she should know this” or “I’m not going to spell it out for them.” Just put all your feelings, your needs, your fears, your triggers, your hopes, all of it out on the table, and go from there.

Oof that is so tough. Trust is hard to build back up after all of the lies and betrayal. What I’ve realized is that most importantly, you have to learn how to trust yourself. You may be lied to again. But you have to be able to trust that no matter what happens, you will be okay, and that you are capable of healing. Trust your gut. When triggers arise, ground yourself through meditation, prayer, whatever works for you. Be present. And when fear arises, ask yourself if you are creating a narrative in your head based on the past. Change is possible. Focus on the progress, trust the process, and know that there is always hope.

I hope that helps. I’m glad to hear the course is helping you and that your relationship with your sister is improving. Please continue to reach out in this community!


Thank you so much for the reply, this definitely was a big big help! She was accepted into a halfway house and realizing that stressing over a place for her to stay made no sense since she had a place, helped. And I will definitely be thinking about the boundaries and going through problem-solving, thanks!!


Hi ivy17- You are really hittin’ for the fences with all of these questions.
I just want you to know that I feel your insatiable curiosity and desire
and know it is fueled by love and longing.

I hope for peace in your journey with your sister. It’s attainable, and isn’t necessarily a straight shot through. If you’re lucky, it’s a lifetime. Sweet dreams to you.