I have a difficult roommate situation and don’t know what to do. First, I like my roommate, whom I’ll call Franny, very much — she’s smart, funny, thirty-one years old, has a good job as a magazine editor, is tidy with her things and in many ways easy to live with. We share an apartment in Brooklyn, NY and have been roommates for the better part of a year and a half. The problem is Franny has emotional issues. Though she’s very secretive about it, I suspect she’s addicted to opiates such as Xanax and another drug for anxiety, Klonopin, that she takes every night. She’s extremely thin. She tries to pretend her eating habits are normal, but I’ve watched her closely and know for a fact that she undereats (a little piece of chicken and a sprig of broccoli would be a lot for her) and also that she over exercises — one (and sometimes two) spin classes at the gym every day plus a daily regimen of squats, weight lifting, treadmill and a six mile run at least twice a week. It’s very hard to watch this behavior and it’s gotten me so nervous and depressed that I’m not sure I can live with her anymore. I know you will probably say sit down and talk to her, but I’ve already tried that (useless; she won’t open up on the subject) and none of her friends seem eager to help. Her parents are divorced. She has a very bad relationship with her mother, whom she speaks to as infrequently as possible, and her father’s pretty much disappeared from her life. What shall I do? This whole thing is dragging me down.
I’ll be very blunt with you. Hardhearted as it may sound, this is not your problem. It’s your roommate’s and I’m sorry you’re being dragged down by it. She certainly needs therapy and from what you’re telling me she also probably needs to go into rehab for disordered eating combined with addictive behavior (a dependency on opiates). My advice? 1) start going to Al-Anon meetings to learn about detachment 2) Find a therapist who specializes in addiction and who can help you figure out what to say to your roommate and set up an intervention. But it’s very important that you look at your own behavior as well. Why have you allowed yourself to remain in a situation that gets you so nervous and depressed? Do you want to continue living with this person? How involved should you be in her life and her troubles? Why is your focus not more on yourself? These are questions about yourself that should be answered as you move forward. In the end you will see (or at least I hope you will) that it’s yourself you should be taking care of and putting first in order to lead a healthy, fulfilling life. Al-Anon is the best place to start.
I wish you luck,
Dear Fears,Knowles is right. Your first priority is your daughter, though it’s sad that your relationship with your sister could crumble over this. Best would be to handle the whole thing within the family. If it were me, however, I’d never let that nephew in my house again. Yours respectfully,
Charlene H., Waco, TX
You’ve got to be damned sure something bad really happened before seeking the help of a therapist who will get the nephew’s ass sent to juvy. Maybe the kid did nothing more than make a demeaning remark to the little girl. Things like this cannot be handled without a great deal of care, thought and respect. That’s my opinion.
Richard D., Dallas, TX
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.