Thursday, October 17, 2013

My friend Jessie....

Jessie came to work with me a few years ago.  I hated her right off the bat.  First off, she had been transferred here from another department and wasn't happy about it.  So her attitude wasn't outstanding.  But most importantly she was young and thin and incredibly beautiful.  So I was really jealous of her.

Jessie made some bad choices - some work related and some personal life related in the first few months that I knew her.  Some mistakes were those often made by young people in the workplace.  Other mistakes were made from her battling demons that I didn't know about at the time.  And those choices made it very easy for me to judge her, in the snotty ass way that I was so good at.  And judge her, I did.  We were polite and respectful to one another, but I tried my best to have my voice dripping with contempt every time we spoke.  Real mature, right?

Jessie's bad choices continued for a while and she formed a close bond with another person at work that enabled and reinforced some of her inappropriate and dangerous behavior.  I thought that she might start spiraling completely out of control, but she wasn't my problem, right?  And so, we all went on with our lives.

I started my weight loss attempts and Jessie made sure to compliment me.  But I didn't believe that she was being "real".  My whole life I have always gotten along better with men and have had a tougher time bonding with women. So I didn't trust her motives or that she was being sincere.  

And then Jessie hit a crisis point.  She was dumped by the work friend in a nasty way over some of her choices, and I could tell that she was floundering.  I still judged her some, and distrusted her as well, but my heart couldn't help but go out to her and my gut told me that there was more to the story.  I had suspected that she had a drinking problem, and we had even talked about her drinking a few times, but she always downplayed it.

Before long another crisis hit and Jessie almost lost everything.  One of the people she came to for help, understanding and support, was me.  She confessed that she did have a drinking problem and that it had driven her to behaviors that could have destroyed everything that she had worked for personally and professionally.  

I was surprised that she came to me and was acknowledging her problem.  But I was also "on guard".  She made promises of changes which I was skeptical of.  I wanted to help her, but I didn't want to get caught up in what I perceived as her self-induced drama, either.  But I made a conscious decision to open my heart and mind to her.  

Much to my delight and surprise, I got to bear witness to a total transformation.  Over the next few months, Jessie "grew up".  She became a more focused and calm person.  She buckled down and through hard work and lots of tears became a new person.  She got married and, while she had always been a good mom, she became a better one.  Sobriety and her family took priority in her life.  

As all this happened, I was in the midst of my own journey and I began to see how much we had in common, emotionally and mentally.  Not the least of which was us both being crazy!  I've talked before about the commonality that recovery from alcohol and drug addiction has with recovery from obesity and it came into play in our daily discussions.     

Jessie has been one of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters.  No matter what has been going on in her life, she has always found time to be there for me.  She was one of the few people that stopped to see me after my skin removal surgery.  She is always there for a hug when I get into my "funks" and doesn't judge me for feeling what I feel - even when it's nuts.  And, happily, I am able to return the favor.

So, over the last few couple years of life changes, which includes having two babies, Jessie has seen her weight increase where she is not happy about how she looks or the way she feels.  And so she has embarked on a quest to lose the weight.  All while being a mother, a wife, battling some health issues and working full time.  Not to mention whole-heartedly taking the concept of giving back that they talk about in Alcoholics Anonymous to heart.  As if there was not enough on her plate, Jessie is now someone's sponsor!  

Jess is not obese - hell, she's just barely into the "overweight" category.  She's already down several pounds since September.  But when she gets her weight back down to where she's happy, no one is going to refer to her change as "amazing" or "inspiring".  But from where I stand, her journey is, in some ways, way more impressive then mine.  She is a perfect example of why NO ONE has an excuse not to make the changes if they really want something.

So Jessie, keep up the good work and be proud of all that you have accomplished - you deserve more recognition then you will ever get!

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