I have a younger sibling, let’s call her Sarah. Who has a severe alcohol and drug addiction problem. I’m talking 9 separate rehabs, 10 in hospital detox’s and 4 different events in which she was almost dead and luckily saved by people smart enough to call for an ambulance at the right time.
We grew up in a small town where everyone knows each others business and my parents are very well known in the community. It doesn’t help that my parents are extremely wealthy and own businesses that draw attention to that fact.
Because I’m married, financially independent and live outside of their area I don’t usually get inundated with the ridiculous gossip that goes on in their town. I also have been able to avoid being constantly questioned by people regarding gossip about my family and their personal struggles, because I kept away from the area for the most part for several years.
However, in the last 2 years my sister has been overcome and destroyed by her addiction. She has decided she only wants to deal with me instead of the rest of the family.
Recently she had a dangerous situation occur that landed her in the ICU, on a ventilator, feeding tube, restraints, deep sedation and a personal nurse. She almost died, and due to the fact that the hospital told my family she will not be able to live through another detox and/or survive another bender, my family has started telling people about her situation. At the moment, we don't know where my sister is.
Now I’m being inundated with phone calls and texts from people outside of our family. I feel hounded and harassed yet the messages I’m receiving are asking about her welfare and updates and such and seem caring. The problem is that I cannot discuss and explain my sisters situation with these people as it’s too complex and overwhelming to try to do at this point (we don’t know where she is.)
I also don’t want to spend my entire day responding to people’s questions about her because it saddens me and I need to have a life separate from this.
What can I say to people who keep asking me about this? How can I politely let them know this is a personal issue and is painful to discuss without being rude or sounding unappreciative about their concerns?