My blogging is much reduced. Back in May 2012, it was as if I was battling a fire breathing dragon that threatened to engulf us all. Anorexia is an invisible monster that consumes all rationality, mocks love and takes everything you know and turns it to a twisted, poisoned prison. No one os left unharmed, siblings, parents, friends and even though you know it is an illness that exists in the chemical of your daughter’s brain, it corrupts and questions everything. Nothing is the same any more. Those delicious cakes she always loved – now rejected as if poison or acid. Your familiar meals – pancakes at breakfast, pasta carbonara or a roast dinner all become “fear foods”. You try to tell yourself that it is a sadistic illness and not your fault, but in the middle of the night, your heart breaks and the tears flow, telling you it is all your fault; if she felt loved more, if you hadn’t worked, if you were still married to her father…
From somewhere, you don’t know where, you find armour. You realise, you can’t change her, but you can change you. It’s not how you wanted to be, but you have to be RoboMum. Cleaning up thrown food and replating. Ignoring tears, sitting for hours if need be. Of course, you fail regularly. While you long to be Shining Example Mum, too often you are Shouting, Crying, then Hugging Mum, relapsing into Drinking Too Much Wine Mum after a hard day. You go forward then back and every time there is light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out it’s just yet another bloody train coming. Friends tell you it will be ok, and you want to believe them, but you know the stats. Everyone wants to believe their child isn’t the one in ten. But all ten of us can’t be right and every child lost to this monstrous disease breathes a whispered threat to you that no one is safe.
And then somehow change happens. For all your Hollywood movie inspired dreams of it being overnight, it never is. Perhaps it starts with grapes being eaten outside of snack time, food that she wanted to eat but didn’t have to. A meal with unknown calories. A Tumblr or a Instagram post where she thinks she’s had enough and just wants to eat pizza. You don’t comment because you’ve been hurt before. It always helps if Life taps on the window, telling her there are boyfriends, bands, parties and and excitement which makes the thrill of another half stone gone pale into insignificance. You know you’ve told her, but she finally hears it for herself.
And so it is, that two years after her fifteenth birthday, which she spent with us on a few hours day release from hospital, trying to eat lasagne, L is back from the Reading Festival, having existed on cheesy chips, breakfasts on croissants and bread, eats pizza for dinner with her boyfriend and threatens her twin sister with violence unless she saves her a home made Cake Pop. Our journey isn’t over, but we can see the shores of home and know how comforting a life of recovery feels. We have so many scars, but they are healing.
If I read back on this blog, I feel fear and panic, but most of all naïveté and innocence, the lessons I never wanted to learn, the lies I always believed and the excuses I made for not facing up to the vicious, terrorising menace of Ed. But we made it. And if I had to say how, I’m not sure I could, except to say this: we kept putting one foot in front of another. When things were bleak and grim, we had FEAST and MAED and the knowledge it wasn’t just us. As Charlotte Bevan said, we just had to BREATHE.
But I know what it was like to sob into the bedclothes and wish it would go away, that we could just disappear and not have to wake up in the morning. I cried Why Me, Why Her, so many times. But we got through. To those still in the gory midst of battle, I write this as if throwing a rope and telling you to hold on. I know I would have cried back that it was too hard, but please believe me when I say you CAN do this. You know as well as I do, that giving up is so much harder. Don’t think about the future, just think about today about now and find the strength to put one foot in front of the other,