L is home for a long weekend. it was supposed to be a split weekend but ends up being for three nights. This is great, but also fraught. Yesterday, I was in London all day at work and today, I am just mentally and physically exhausted. I wake about 10 and my first thought is that L needs breakfast before morning snack. But I am just too tired. We make breakfast eventually and L refuses the toast. A stand off follows and it takes ages to get her to eat it. It is now midday. L cries after breakfast,she saw her friend yesterday and is distressed because she is now bigger than her. She isn’t but of course she can’t be told this. I try for a long time to tell her how amazing she is, but she isn’t listening. We play Bananagrams, a favourite game. Then it is lunchtime. I tell L we are having omelette. The usual anxiety kicks in. She suggests scrambled eggs on toast, I agree, then as I try to start making it, she suggests a bacon sandwich. I refuse to change. She hovers and as usual her face looks like she is about to be beaten. I tell her to sit at the table. She becomes upset when I state she needs two slices of bread. I make the eggs, aware of her watching every move, looking tearful and terrified. The toast pops up and I spread some Flora trying to make it as thin as possible, L lets out a cry and tells me it is too much.
I lose it. I lose it completely. I tell her I am sick of this, that I have had enough of this exasperating behaviour, of being watched, of having to fight with L for every mouthful. I slam her meal on the table with a drink. I have had enough, I say this again and again. And I have. I am sick of anorexia, really bloody sick of it. Every minute of the day is ruled by its tyranny. I am tired of having to think through every meal option, of having the joy sucked out of every family meal, unless L is absent from it. I hate never being able to eat out, to go for afternoon tea, of not being able to visit my mother at the weekend, of not being able to take L on yesterday’s march, of never being able to tell L she looks better because she has gained weight. I am done with this endless hamster wheel of work, visiting L, catching up with housework and other jobs left undone. I am completely sick of my child looking as if she is going to be smacked around the face when I make her a meal.
Nothing is simple or happy any more.
L cries. I cry. We both weep, properly. It doesn’t feel cathartic, it feels miserable and hopeless. We hold each other and cry and cry and apologise again and again. it stops in the end and I take L to the cinema to see a film with a friend. I go to the shop to buy food and wander listlessly at the yogurt and dessert shelves, wondering what L might be brave enough to eat. I am wiser now. I know there is no point.
I read blogs about years of suffering with eating disorders, generally written by clever beautiful young women. Years which could be happy, being squandered by this terrible illness and stolen from the families of the sufferers. We are all sick of anorexia here. And again I think I can’t go on any more, to go back to work tomorrow feels impossible. I have nothing left, to give to L, to work or to anyone else. But I also have no other choice. I have bills to pay, a job to do and a daughter to feed