Monday, 12 July 2010

speaking too soon

We have come off Wednesday's high and since then Waif has eaten very little  :-(   She tried to eat only a small cheese sandwich (one thin slice of plastic cheddar between 2 dry wholemeal slices of bread) for lunch today and missed her morning snack.

Sigh, it's a careful balancing act because her French Exchange is over - another 13 year old girl - and Waif does not want her ED mentioned or alluded to, so it is tricky for me to prompt her to eat enough.  Since the FX arrived, Waif keeps grabbing me in quiet corners of the kitchen and telling me that there is NO WAY she is going to France next week.

Sigh, Waif was like this when she was little:  in Reception (age 4) she would happily accept party invitations then, the day before, she would start telling me that she was not at all sure she would go and then on the day itself she would refuse point blank and I would have to make an embarrassing call to the other child's mother.  Eventually, I started refusing the invitations from the beginning.   Only 2 weeks ago Waif was berating me for making her exchange leg only 9 days long whereas her FX is over here for 2 weeks (this seemed sensible to me as a week away plus 2 travelling days  is enough whilst Waif is still in recovery).  I am wondering about the school ski trip in December to which Waif has just committed.

At the same time Waif has come back into our bed at night and has also tried to ban me from going out:  on Saturday night my husband and I had been invited out to a drinks party.  No big deal really but we rarely go out.  I knew that Older Daughter would not be around so had spoken to Waif some days beforehand to see if she and the FX would like a babysitter or at least some company from one of the older girls in our street.  She said NO WAY.  She is 14 next month and we would be nearby so that seemed reasonable.  Anyway, on the day itself, Waif was in floods of tears saying I could not leave her.  Partly this was tiredness as OD had had her 16th birthday party on Friday night and we were all up until 2am but partly this is a symptom of Waif's renewed clinginess.   Matters were not helped when H gave Waif a stern talking to about responsibility and sticking to commitments (re going to France) and about being a baby not wanting to be left on her own (re the party on Saturday night).  Reader, I didn't go.  H went on his own.

I am reading a book at the moment by Tony Parsons with a great line:  "When is it that a marriage gets to be more about the children and less about the man and his wife?"  Pretty much when they are born, I reckon.

I am trying to encourage Waif to not make snap decisions about France.  I want her to think about how proud of herself she will feel if she goes to France in contrast to the disappointment she will feel if she doesn't. Naturally, I will not make  her go but I sincerely think that it will be a blow to her self esteem if she pulls out and that it would boost her to face the challenge.  I will see if I can organise an earlier train for her to come back on, perhaps limiting her visit to 5 days.  I know that part of the issue is that the FX is a serious, quiet child from a very serious, academic Parisian family, but H and I know the Grandmother who is warm and bubbly and has arranged all sorts of trips for Waif and FX back in Paris and in the Loire valley (the mother works as a senior scientist) and I think that there will be other children around to leaven the atmosphere.  Keep your fingers crossed!


  1. I'm sorry to hear of the disappointments, but don't despair; this seems a timely reminder that one must never let down their guard too soon when dealing with eating disorders, which are usually very stubborn. It will be lovely when Waif continues making progress, and I know she will, but for now, I'm glad you see the need to be more vigilant.

    I'm quite intrigued to hear of Waif's approach to the invitations, and her control over your activities. I was very similar at her age, yet thought myself quite peculiar, so I wonder whether these are prevalent traits of the typical anorexic personality - associated with the rigid, perfectionistic & controlling mentality, perhaps. It would be interesting to explore further.

    I understand you don't want to seem domineering, but please, please do encourage Waif very strongly to go on the French trip! I missed countless opportunities when I was ill with an ED, and I cannot over-emphasise how much I regret that. She is an intelligent girl, so maybe have a chat with her, and outline very candidly your thoughts on it; hopefully, that will gently convince her.

    All the best.

  2. The traits are definitely typical of the anorexic mindset - i was exactly like this, sadly, into my 20s!! The insecurity and abandonment fears and attachment issues are all part of the mindset we struggle to overcome.
    Jennifer x