A Tale of Two Sisters: Overcoming Addiction
How many people think the person closest to them might not be telling them the truth… Every. Single. Day?
That was me. My name is Sharon and currently I am 50 years old. I have a younger sister whom I adore. Quite frankly, I am inspired by her. I admire her strength, her courage, her determination, and her undeniable positivity.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Truthfully, it was completely the opposite for a good part of my life.
My sister, Lisa, and I grew up in a great suburban upper-class town in New Jersey. Our parents divorced when we were young (I was 6 and Lisa 3). And our mother was left to raise us alone as my father left to create family number two in the neighboring town. I must not neglect to mention that my mother is from Finland. She had been in the country for five years, left with two small children, her own liquor/deli business, and no extended family in the country.
And so our story begins. We, my mother, sister, and I, became close. Really close. Like sisters. From the outside, one might have had some pity on us as divorce wasn’t as common in the mid-seventies/early eighties. But inside our house, we were doing well… or at least I thought we were.
In hindsight, we were just getting by.
Lisa was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at the age of seven. I was ten. The slow division among us started without our knowledge. All the attention was given to Lisa. What should she eat, what are her sugar numbers, how is she feeling???Unintentionally, no one really cared about what was happening to me and this is when I began to take care of myself and count on myself completely. This is also when Lisa began to lie. She was deprived of many things as a diabetic and she began to compensate for that. When something went missing, Lisa was usually the one that took it. This became a daily event.
In addition to Lisa’s diabetes, she was greatly scarred by our parents’ divorce. She had internalized many aspects of the divorce in very different ways than I had. My personality is to make each day work. Think about the things presented to me at the moment and make it happen. I continue to be that way as a working mom (a teacher), to three amazing children (two sons, 20 and 17 and a daughter 18), a wife (to my high school sweetheart), and dog mom to three. Not to say I don’t worry, or I don’t obsess over some things; but generally speaking, I compartmentalize and conquer. Not Lisa.
She turned to drugs. Did I know this was happening? Did I have moments of wonder? Was I choosing to ignore all of it? In hindsight, I believe I did. I just had too much going on in my own life to worry about hers.
And then it became undeniable. She would tell me stories about where she had been and with whom. Simple lies that were unnecessary. But they were lies. The lies became daily. She stole money from me personally and from my place of employment to buy more drugs. She missed events, she slept a lot, and she was sad all the time. And I ignored it all. Until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Until Lisa cried for help. And until my mom and I decided to intervene. That was the hardest day of my life. The saddest, most heartbreaking day I hope I have lived through. Lisa got the help she needed. We were lucky. We are lucky.
Liar, thief, manipulator, annoying, crazy, drug addict. Yep, I’ve been called all of that. And it hurt because I knew it was true when I was in my active addiction. I knew that whenever I was around my family they didn’t trust me, they didn’t want me around. There was something wrong with me and I knew it. I just did not know how to tell them I was dying inside and that I was just so very sad.
Let me be clear here, my mom and my sister were and are my everything. I looked up to Sharon and I wanted to be her. I wanted to be able to express myself and hold that kind of elegant confidence that she did so naturally. And I wanted to be as skinny as her and trusted by everyone she met, I sat in awe of her. And in my childhood she was the only person that ever understood me.
In hindsight, I see that I put so much worry on my family that they didn’t know how to act. They didn’t know how to help me. Addiction is a family disease. It is something so consuming that it feels like you are being pulled under water. Almost like trying to swim out of a rip current. You keep pushing and pushing against the natural stream until you go under. But if you’re lucky enough, you survive and can get help.
In writing this memoir with my sister, we were able to heal a little more. If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, please let us know, and we will point you in the right direction. It’s never too late and there is always help, even if you feel all alone.
If you would like to read our story in more detail, check out our memoir entitled In Hindsight: A Story of How Two Sisters Hurt, Hindered, and Healed Each Other by Sharon Bonanno and LIsa Scott
This guest post was authored by Sharon Bonanno and Lisa Scott
Sharon Bonanno (right) is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She takes her relationships seriously and always makes them a priority. Sharon has been a teacher for 22+ years and is passionate about her job. Leading and guiding young people has been her specialty since 1994. Her goal every day is to continue to make people feel that there isn’t anything they can’t do and to help others be the best versions of themselves.
Lisa Scott (left) is a wife, mother, and experienced entrepreneur. Driven by her passion for helping others, she is motivated by her belief that all people deserve second chances. Her number one goal is to show as many people as possible that they can achieve anything they want in life. Lisa is forever optimistic and believes that life is always speaking to us; we just have to learn to listen.
Questions? Please email at [email protected]