"Please eat... A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia", I talk about how - during the most stressful moments of my son's eating disorder - I'd take time out at the end of the garden, watching the vegetables grow. We have a long garden, so it was a fantastic way to truly "walk away from the eating disorder", even if it was only for a moment or two. But there was another place, a place I'd imagine myself going to on those frequent nights when sleep evaded me. Yesterday I went back there - to the real place.
There is an old Victorian metal gate set into limestone walls. It leads into a beautiful private park - the park opposite my late grandparents' former house on the hillside at Weston Super Mare. Because it's a private park for residents only, tucked away in a very secluded part of Weston's hillside, there was never anyone there. Except me. And I used to love being the other side of that wall, in that park, surrounded by manicured rose bushes and shrubs, and grass covered with daisies.
During those sleepless nights at the height of my son's anorexia, the only way I could get to sleep was to escape from reality. I'd imagine myself going up to that old gate, opening it, walking through and closing it again. Once in the park, I was cut off from the outside world. I was safe.
I'd use a technique where I'd imagine what the grass felt beneath my bare feet. I'd make a daisy chain, carefully examining each petal. And I'd gradually make my way through the park, listening to the wood pigeons with the sound of seagulls in the distance. Usually I'd fall asleep before I reached the gap in the wall which led up to my grandparents' house in the tiny private cul-de-sac with its handsome19th century villas.
Yesterday I went back to that park. And, unlike last time I went there, I ignored the "private" sign on that gate, opened it and walked through the park again. Just like I used to do when I was a teenager, many many years before the eating disorder invaded our lives - a private, peaceful place where I felt safe and secure. And, just like in my imaginings, I kicked off my flip-flops and felt the grass beneath my feet, even if it was tinder-dry and parched with the summer heat.
And I knew that I wouldn't care if anyone challenged me about tresspassing in a private park.
But they didn't, because - just as it always used to be - there was just me.
And the wood pigeons and the odd squirrel.