Ideally, as a parent, you would deal with one difficult issue at a time, have a bit of a breather and then move to the next problem. If all I had to do was deal with my daughter’s anorexia, life would be pretty easy compared to what it is at the moment. This morning, on the 7am train to London, I have written a to do list, but this is a current problem and dilemma to do list which I am attempting to write.
1. Arrange counselling for J. Some months ago, J was involved in a really unpleasant incident with his father and his father’s girlfriend. At the time I thought I had helped home deal with it, and experienced a kind of icy calm despite a really powerful rage at what had happened to J. His father’s lack of judgement and emotional ineptitude compounded the incident and probably caused it in part. Yesterday, while sitting with J in his room he talked to me about how angry he was and how he felt he was going mental playing the events over and over with an increasing rage. We talked for a long time, but it is clear I need to help him by getting him some professional help. I am deeply angry at his father and contemplating whether I need to tell him this by writing to him. He still seems utterly blind to the damage he has done to his son.
2. Get J’s laptop mended. Yes, this pales into insignificance compared to no 1, but J’s laptop is his lifeline and it doesn’t work at present. This involves finding a mender, taking it and making sure all his data stays on it, harder than it sounds when working full time and being out of the house for at least 10 hours each day.
3. Organise L and K’s 6th form applications – a vague nagging feeling tells me this needs to be done now, which involves visiting the schools and colleges in the evening, which in turn means getting L out of the unit, as well as ensuring she has her 8 and 9pm snacks while discussing A Level Science
4. Tackling C about his drinking. You will have gathered this is not in any order of importance or urgency. C is a good man, whom I love deeply, but he drinks too much. And I say that as someone who is no stranger to consuming more units than I should. But C starts drinking usually around lunchtime. He opens a bottle of wine and by dinner time he can be glassy eyed and it is impossible to have a serious conversation with him. Later he becomes either argumentative and aggressive or just falls asleep on the sofa. This isn’t about judging him morally or even on health grounds. I just feel alone – he is on a different plane from me and it is lonely.
5. Manage my own medication. The anti depressants appear to be working, but I am still struggling to take them regularly. They should be taken with food, otherwise they cause nausea, but that means getting up and eating and then taking them which causes problems if I don’t eat before leaving the house, or eat on the train as I have done this morning – but have no tablets with me. If I take them late in the day, they cause sleeplessness, a mistake I made yesterday.
And to the above, of course, I need to add helping L recover from anorexia. She had a good weekend but a hard weekend too. She wept on Sunday afternoon and told me that she will never be as good as her too best friends and she wants so much to be like them, but she will never be able to live up to them. I resist the urge to tell her what nonsense this is. I tell her that her biggest battle is not with weight but with the voice in her head that tells her she is not good enough. She is every bit as clever and beautiful as her two best friends and they stand in awe of her too. How did this happen? I have told my daughters and son every day that I love them, that they are wonderful people and yet, L is crippled by self doubt. But those words could apply to me too – have I taught her this unconsciously by my own sense of inadequacy?
Added to this list is a job which takes up around 50 hours each week and could easily take twice as much. We have major projects on the go which will not go away or be delayed and I have to make sure we deliver as an organisation. It is a job which can consume huge amounts of mental and emotional effort which I just don’t have at present. Can the world just stop for a moment or of not, please, please can there be no more problems or challenges thrown in my direction. That would be really helpful.