Ending Enabling

April 2016
February Fortescue (Slytherin)

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to be obese, diabetic, and have a curved spine.”

No one ever says this, and yet so many of us live as if this were our goal.

Taralynn was the fortunate one, health-wise. With the exception of very dry skin, genetics had dealt her a nearly perfect hand. Not so with her younger brother, Tobias. Along with the same dry skin, by the time he had reached adulthood, he had scoliosis of the spine and degenerative arthritis. By age twenty, he was declared bipolar. He gained extreme weight and developed diabetes and high blood pressure. He'd been placed on several medications and added thyroid issues and kidney problems to his list of ailments.

Taralynn knew she had to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life. She weighed some of the previous conversations and moments in the back of her mind:

“Mom, please don't offer Tobias that doughnut! The doctor says his blood sugar is too high and he may become diabetic!”

“Oh, Taralynn, look how depressed he is. This doughnut may just cheer him up.” She watched Tobias eat the doughnut, and then eat two more, as well.

“Mom, if you buy that candy, you're at least going to hide it, right? If you don't, you know he'll eat most of it.”

“Oh, good grief! Just because Tobias can't have candy doesn't mean I can't! Besides, he needs to make the decision to take care of himself on his own. I can't do it for him.”

The following day, Taralynn noticed the entire bag of candy was empty. Their mother admitted Tobias had eaten most of it.

Taralynn made baked chicken, with an olive oil seasoning, and took it to Tobias for his healthy meal, as planned, while mom brought fried potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate cake for dessert.

Tobias underwent weight-loss surgery, only to gain all the weight back. Tobias chose to not exercise, or to do physical therapy.

Tobias had his toenails cut by the foot doctor, who took considerable time scraping the dead skin cells off his heels, rubbing expensive lotion on them, and explaining what would happen should gangrene occur, and Tobias chose to ignore her later.

Tobias continued to drink his carmel-colored sodas, while refusing to discuss possible changes in his medications, before he wound up on kidney dialysis.

Tobias: always seeing himself as a victim, never making any effort to heal himself, but working hard to keep Taralynn and their mom as guilty-feeling caretakers.

No more. At least for Taralynn. Once again, she was standing at the fork in the road, but this time, she was going to choose a different path.

“I love you, Tobias, with all of my heart, but I can no longer enable you. I will no longer sit back while you make decisions which further destroy your health. I am moving back into my home, and I will come first in my life. I will share meals with you, but only if they are healthy. You are welcome to walk with me every day. When you end up on dialysis, you will need to arrange your own transportation. You are not a victim, unless you choose to be.”