Home > Come Back To Me

Come Back To Me
Author: Kathy Coopmans





“Damn it, Alexis.” I throw my car into park, cut the engine, and listen to the rain pelt down against the windows.

“I should go in there and kick her ass for parking in the garage once again.” But I won’t. She’s still too fragile. Much like a little bird with a broken wing. You have to handle them with care, or you’ll damage them beyond repair. That is indeed how I’m taking care of my sister. Warm blankets, food, shelter, and a soothing voice. Gentle hands and all the love she deserves. Even on the cold, hard days when she screams and pounds her fists on her chest as she hoarsely cries how much she doesn’t deserve it.

Alexis is three years older than me, and she has lost her way in life. Stroke after stroke of bad luck has rained down on her far worse than the freezing drops of water falling from the gray-mattered sky.

If I'm sitting here reminiscing, then I need to be honest; she’s had a rough life. We both have, actually. When we lost our parents, I chose to mourn the loss by becoming lost in school, my photography, and working at my grandmother’s store. Alexis lost herself in dozens of men, booze, and eventually a drug addiction that led her to jail and rehab. More times than I dare to count. I hope this time she’s learned her lesson. I’m too young to have my heart give out on me over worrying day and night about her. There’s barely anything left of it to give out as it is. A shred maybe, but I’m too stingy to let her have it. Dumb me is saving it for myself. For who or what is a question only God can answer.

I should be more concerned about our grandmother and her deteriorating health. The stubborn woman won’t go to the doctor. She won’t listen to a word I say. Always coaxing me into believing she’s fine, telling me to work Alexis out of my system so I can live some sort of normal life. The sassy little old lady continues to work her fingers to the bone while popping antacids in her mouth. Daily. She worries me.

It was hard enough on all of us nine years ago when our parents were both killed on impact when a drunk driver rammed into them from behind, causing our father to lose control of the wheel. They hit a tree head on. I was eighteen, getting ready to start college, and Alexis was barely twenty-one. My parents had returned home from a two-week vacation to help me move into my dorm. If anyone should have turned to losing it, it should have been me. I was the one they demanded they were cutting their vacation short for. I begged them not to. Told them grandma and Alexis could help me. They had been planning the long trip across the country for two years. They never made it to all the places they’d wanted to see. I’ll never lose the blameworthiness over losing them. No matter where my life takes me.

The one constant thing I can rely on in my life is guilt, and it's crawling up my throat once again as I sit here and listen to the rain smack on the roof of my car. I shiver, not from the cold either. I miss our mom and dad so much I can barely stand to look at myself sometimes.

When Alexis turned to drinking heavily a few years ago, I became irate. Yelled at her constantly. Nagged her continually and worried until I nearly drove myself crazy. Which I know is the wrong thing to do when dealing with an addict. I couldn’t help it anymore. All I’ve done since then is support, listen, and clean up mess after mess with her and yet, just like our grandmother, she won’t listen. “’A fact is a stubborn thing,’ John Adams once said, Adriana,” I sniffle out. Never were truer words spoken.

More guilt. So much of it now that I nearly gag from choking back my sobs. My sister wouldn’t be a drug addict and an alcoholic if it weren’t for me. No, she would be the one constant in my life I would need, and no one knows better than my own broken heart how much I need her to be just that instead of her constantly saying she's sorry all the time. Half of her ‘I’m sorry’s’ come out in words that make no sense at all and are barely coherent anyway.

One day, she cries in the corner, rocking back and forth, telling me how sorry she is for ruining my life, for doing things she claims I would hate her more for if I knew what she had done. Crying her eyes out with wanting Mom and Dad, begging me to forgive her. Always telling me that my train-wrecked life is not my fault. And then the next time she’ll be up in my face. Spitting nails into the sockets in my head with every word full of vile and venom dispensing out of her mouth. It crushes me. I used to be the naïve woman who believed her. I haven’t believed a word she has told me in a long, long time. It will never stop me from loving her, though. Never stop me from helping her either.

I can’t understand why she mixes her drugs with drinking, or why she even gets drunk in the first place when heavy drinking was the major contribution that killed our parents. It’s a deadly combination.

I learned through my own therapy that a person doesn’t realize how much their actions can hurt someone else. Not until either they or you hit rock bottom or die. I cringe at the thought of losing her. I’ll drown in my guilt if I do.

A little over two years ago, Alexis not only bottomed out, she literally landed face first on my kitchen floor in a convulsing mess of vomit and filth when she showed up here in the middle of the night. Drunk, coked out, and rattled things off about a part of my life I never talk about. I barely understood a word she said because all that mattered was getting her the help she needed. I was scared out of my mind that the time had come when I was going to lose her. I don’t know how many days I went without sleep. Sat by her side while she fought her demons. Sweating, puking, and clawing at me to let her go out.

It broke me in more ways than I can talk about to anyone; and when I would try to bring up the name of the man who my heart still aches for, the name she threw at me when she hit rock bottom, she would retreat back into herself, which was the beginning of losing her all over again.

I’m so lost in her world right now that it scares me. I’m afraid I’ll never be the woman again I once was, but I can’t desert her. It’s funny how when a person tries to help someone else find themselves, they end up losing themselves in the process. “You sound pathetic, Adriana,” I think out loud, swipe angrily at my tears. “Yeah, well, you aren’t pathetic. She’s your sister. Everyone has given up on her but you.” That includes our grandmother.

The second time Alexis hit rock bottom—the time that led her to live with me and the man from my past—my grandmother and I cracked. That was it for sweet little Elizabeth Monroe, the foundation to our family. “No more, Adriana. It breaks my heart to say it, but I’m done. I will always love her and you. I just don’t have the strength to watch her kill herself anymore. Not like you do.” If you only knew how weak I really am, Grandma.

I can only pray Alexis never goes back to torturing herself, me, or grandma again. It was hell. She’s been sober for three months now. There’s no more booze, drugs, or men. She’s back to work as a part-time hairstylist. Bringing in new clientele at a rapid pace and living with me until she feels comfortable enough to be on her own. But she’s still weak, has days when she craves and angers the hell out of me at times. Which, if she continues to park in my spot in the garage on days when it’s pouring, she’s going to be out of here before she’s ready.

All I want to do is take a long, hot bath and climb into bed. I worked through dinner to get this photo shoot set up for tomorrow afternoon. I’m hungry, exhausted, and now I’m furious.

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