L’s progress continues to be slow. I yell at her to eat more, she yells back telling me I never give her credit. We carry on like this, but there is a shadow existence looming. She is 16, she has a boyfriend, she is at college. This is new territory for us. We have no rules and no route map. So, I get cross that she is never home but I have no idea how many nights a teenager should be out. I hear about parents searching the streets for their teenagers in case they are buying drugs or drunk. This isn’t our situation.
But on Friday night, L doesn’t come home. K calls her. She is with The Boyfriend. In town. K says she is staying with The Boyfriend. Really?, I say. She hasn’t asked me. I text L. She has tweeted about bursting into tears. About being called a slut. I feel angry and sad on her behalf. No answer. I text again. No answer. I feel alone. But I guess she is with The Boyf. I have to get up the next day. So I text her goodnight. I guess she will be home. Then C comes to bed. I sit up. Still no sign of L, I call her. She answers, sounding sleepy. She is with The Boyf. I tell her I had no idea where she was. But, I texted you, she protests. I am so angry, did she not realise unless I reply that she can’t bank on me having received it. She sounds cross. I feel angry.
The next day I have to leave early for work. I have to visit people on a picket line. But I want to cry all the time. It feels like I have lost L. It feels like she went away and any plea for her to call home or keep in touch in an intrusion. I have spent so long worrying about her food intake, what dessert she has and suddenly all I can feel is the empty space where she should be. I cry while driving to the conference at which I need to speak. I speak about feminism, but all I want to ask is where my daughter is. It turns out that she arrived home with flowers and The Boyf, full of apologies. But I feel stuck. I miss the closeness of an ill L. I worry about the denial of the current L, not willing to discuss anorexia. We have moved on to a new world and I’m not sure where I belong in it.