I'm still trying to work out the reason why, when served up with a pretty cr*p meal in the hotel restaurant I was staying at during my week's get-away in Somerset and Devon this last week, it set off the waterworks. Big style. And I haven't been so embarrassed or angry with myself since the time the same thing happened in church (described in my book "Please eat... A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia"). The more I tried to stop, the worse it got! And all because of some soggy roast potatoes. But why?
That's what I've been trying to figure out. I mean, I was so very relaxed during this break, so it wasn't as if I was teetering on the brink waiting for the proverbial last straw to break the camel's back, so to speak...
Here's why I think it was...
This was the first time I had been away from home, on my own, indulging myself in a relaxed way, since before the eating disorder. As you will know if you've read my book, I tried to get away from it all a couple of times. Both times I failed. The second time I was so wound up with anxiety that my body physically locked into position, like a kind of lock-jaw, and I could scarcely function.
So this time it was going to be perfect, come hell or high water. Which is why, when the food was cr*p at the hotel which had cost me a pretty penny, it was the last straw.
Also, I'd just met up with two people who had been profoundly affected by eating disorders: one was a former sufferer who is now recovered and the other was a mum, still struggling with her daughter's eating disorder. What with this, and proof-reading the final version of my new book "When anorexia came to visit", I got thinking about this bl@@dy awful illness in probably a little bit more depth than is good for me.
Additionally, that day I'd been to the beach. It was the first time I'd been to a beach since the terrifying episode described in "Please eat..." when Ben and I ended up in dangerous territory, too far out from the coast, in unpredictable estuary currents. Although it was great fun to be at the seaside again after three years and I've always loved wading and splashing out into the sea more than most other things in life (except for during the "Summer From Hell" described above, when the seaside took on a whole new and terrifying personae), I was - in general - looking back at the beach to check my belongings were safe. This is key, I think.
I wasn't looking out to sea...
But then I turned round and looked out to sea... across the vast expanse of blue towards the horizon.
And, suddenly, I had a flashback as I remembered just how far out Ben had been swimming during that terrifying episode - his arms going round and round like a motor, not caring how far the rip-tides took him out to sea. That was the summer of suicidal thinking. The summer when Ben didn't give a flying you-know-what about what happened to him.
Actually, I wonder if that was the trigger at the hotel dinner table on Tuesday night rather than the other two things I've mentioned above.
It's difficult to say. The mind does funny things.
But whatever the trigger was, it happened. Thankfully I was sitting outside on the terrace, so I was alone, until a family came and sat on the table right next to me while I was still frantically trying to stop blubbing into my tissues.
And - oh so embarrassingly - I was still blubbing when the head waiter came over to see why I'd complained about the meal. Also, embarrassingly, I found myself trying to explain *why* I was blubbing!
Oh just stop, Batty, you are digging yourself in even deeper!!!!
Ouch, ouch, ouch!
I kind of prodded my way through the replacement meal they gave me, not really tasting it. And I asked to take the dessert up to my room, eyes downcast, wishing to hell I'd brought my sunglasses down with me.
The next day and for the remainder of the stay, I was relieved to see that it was a different team of staff.
I couldn't have faced them again!!!!
And, the next day and thereafter, I was fine. No more upset.