The Bridge Chicago is a way to offer the resources of Mission:USA to help people do good ministry.
I have a sister that is a recovered alcoholic and has been for many years. She continued to cross our boundaries (my wife & I) by calling us on the phone very very frequently getting to a point where she was accusing us if we didn’t answer the phone quickly enough or “where have you been”. But after a run in I had with her I told her to quit calling and now haven’t talked to her in over 2 years. Where do I go from here to break the ice but not fall back through
Wanting to reconnect with your sister is an admirable thing, but I have to wonder if there is anything that has changed in the last 2 years. Has your sister gone through anything or made any strides that would make her easier to have a heathy relationship with? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pursue this if she hasn’t; but one side of the equation needs to have changed in order to get a different outcome. Let’s assume that your sister is still in her problem and look at things that you can do to make things easier.
You pointed out that your sister crossed your boundaries. You are right to know that that is a no go. You have an active role in your boundaries in that you need to set them clearly and let someone know when they are getting running up against them. Clear boundaries are important in any healthy relationship, but even more so with addicts.
Boundaries have to be actively set, by which I mean you have to establish them and let people know. Waiting until someone goes too far is too late to set a boundary. There is really no such thing as being too explicit with a boundary. In your case with your sister, that might mean saying something like: “I want to have a relationship with you, let’s set up a phone call once a week. If you call more often than that I won’t return your call until that scheduled weekly phone call”. Once a week is just an example, obviously you pick whatever is comfortable for you. This shows that you are willing to make an effort, but that you are setting down terms that you expect to be respected. If things go well you can talk more frequently or meet in person or what have you, but only once she has shown she is capable of respecting you.
Most addicts don’t do well with boundaries at first. They try to get away with things, they blame the other party and accuse them of not caring and “you’re supposed to be a Christian” and so on and so forth. But that is a temper tantrum, and you just have to weather it. You can say, “I’m sorry you feel that way, and I’m sorry you can’t respect my boundaries. If that changes I’d love to try again.” You are the party that is trying to do the right thing here.
Boundaries are difficult to set, but they will the trust that can be rebuilt is invaluable. You have to be patient and willing to have her act out, but it is the best strategy to give her a chance and maintain your sanity.