I Was a Codependent Cheerleader.

“I will not work harder than you for your recovery.” – a former mentor of mine

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I have a friend, Jay, who weighs 385 pounds. At least that’s what he weighed months ago, which was the last time we spoke. I’m sure he’s well over 400 pounds by now.

Jay is eating himself to death.

I suspect one day I’ll call Jay’s number and find it’s no longer in service. Or, maybe I’ll log onto Facebook see that his family is holding his memorial service.

He wasn’t always this way.

I met Jay years ago in the rooms of Compulsive Eaters Anonymous-HOW. At the time he was in his early thirties, at a normal weight, had a job, girlfriend and solid abstinence, which is the term used in 12-step food recovery programs for “food sobriety” (i.e., we abstain from compulsive eating).

Then Jay relapsed.

Once he fell off the wagon, Jay never got back on. Now it’s many years – and many pan pizzas later (which is Jay’s binge food of choice), he’s obese, unemployed, and living alone in a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago.

Yeah, the food thing is that serious.

A few months ago I made the hard decision to let our friendship go. Not because I wanted to. I had to. Our friendship wasn’t good for me.

Put. The Pom-Poms. Down.

Desperate to help, I took on the role of Jay’s codependent cheerleader. I emailed him helpful articles, texted helpful podcasts, left helpful messages.

And then I realized that the only one who wanted Jay to get well was me.

He always has a reason why he can’t attend any meeting of any food fellowship – OA, CEA-HOW, Food Addicts Anonymous (i.e., the people are too spiritual, the meetings too far, there aren’t enough men).

There’s even more reasons why he can’t seek professional treatment (the people aren’t spiritual enough, it’s too expensive, too far to drive).

I’ll stick to my own rabbit hole, thanks.

I also found myself getting sucked into Jay’s rabbit hole. During phone conversations, I found myself agreeing that yes, the people in 12-step groups are weird (indeed we can be), you’re right, professional help is a waste of money.

And that’s when I realized I had to let the friendship go. I have my own rabbit hole, of which I wrote about it Day 17.

One of us has to stay above ground and if it’s not going to be Jay, it’s going to have to be me.

I love Jay but not enough to die with him.

Maybe Jay’s fate will not be dire one I predict. Maybe one day, in fact, he’ll call me and be abstinent, happy and productive. But all I know is that, if he does indeed call – and I hope he does – at least I will be.

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