Next week I have to go away. From Sunday to Friday, for a work commitment. It happens quite regularly, although this is a long time to be away, generally it’s about a couple of nights. But this is five nights. Six days in total.
A few weeks ago I couldn’t imagine how I could do it. I knew that when I was away L was less likely to eat, more likely to purge and vomit. I wrote before about how this made me feel, like L’s anorexic voice, my ‘mother of anorexic’ voice told me it was my fault, if I was a better mother, if I was home, if I was there, none of this would be happening.
But I need to work. Principally because that’s what pays our bills. The roof over our heads and the clothes on our backs and the food on our table come from the money I earn. And I love my job and what we do. I’ve worked hard, I enjoy it and I’m proud of what I do. There are even days when i think I’m good at my job. Actually, I know I am. And L has always liked that I work, she is proud of what I do too. So next week, I will work away from home, in an intensive environment that will demand all of my attention and energy. Contact with L will be by phone, text or email.
How can I help her eat from so far away? The truth is, I can’t. We will make a plan of what meals she will have and I will take a copy with me and ask her how it went. I will try and send her postcards to say Hi! I love you. That kind of thing. I will ask her each night if she has eaten and remind her that she must keep the food down, to call me if she feels like vomiting. In reality, I know she won’t eat as much. She will make herself sick and I imagine she will lose weight.
Anyway, I have to do this and who knows, it might be ok. At our last CAMHS appointment, the psychiatrist told L she needed time away from anorexia. The truth is, so do I. For the last month we have been wrapped up in a claustrophobic world where everything has a bigger meaning, where we are constantly tense about food and where both L and I feel frequently overwhelmed and exhausted. She probably needs time away from me too, but I know it will be tough for both of us. This illness has not driven us apart, if anything we are closer, but it is heartbreaking for me to see her struggle and I know she is upset at how worried I am. Sometimes, perhaps, just possibly, love can be stronger if you step back for a while. At least I hope it can