Coming back home

Since going back to work, life has been a bit hectic. Well, quite a lot, actually. L continues to make good progress, although her weight gain starts to falter as she gets closer to A Healthy Weight. We all know how anorexia clings on, it’s determination only outstripped by its destruction.

But she starts to enjoy a normal life. She is a day patient and spends nights at home. This home. Except that so many nights are at her boyfriend’s or a friend’s house. She drinks vodka and calls to tell me how much she loves me and how important I am. The self doubt and loathing endures too, however, her Twitter account is full of how she hates her legs, her hair, even her laugh. Her laugh is beautiful, just like the rest of her. But in a world of such scrutiny of young women she is constantly judging herself, longing for a silent invisible perfection which will never come.

At the unit she is enrolled on a course designed to teach her the skills to recognise abuse and violence in relationships. K tells me all of this as we snuggle in an armchair as I return home from a couple of days away with work. She informs me that L said her therapists have identified her as someone at risk of becoming involved in abusive relationships and lacking the skills to assert herself, due to her terror of upsetting people and perpetually blaming herself. K seems troubled by this assessment and asks me why the unit would do this. I don’t know what is at the route if this trouble – is it K feeling anger that somehow it is passive women who cause violence when really all women are at risk? Or does K sense further trouble ahead for L. Either way, we decide this course is a good thing for L. And I put my arms round K in the chair and I hug her close, nuzzling her short spiky hair and smiling at her fierce intellect, with an ache at her anxiety. I tell her of my day, about my talk about Women and Power and my analogy that asking women to seek power in patriarchal structures is like asking cats to take part in Crufts and then when they object to having to walk on leads, all the dogs tut and say, “See, cats – they’re so awkward. They just don’t really want power”. K giggles and we decide to order in pizza. Life is ok, actually better than ok. It’s great.

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