Over the past 18 months Ben and I have got to know the beautiful local countryside very well indeed. We've walked and talked... walked and talked again... and again... and again... across all four seasons... in the hot sun, the crunchy leaves of Autumn and the deep snow.
On Tuesday, as the sun set behind the lake and we squelched through yet another muddy field, Ben said how much he has appreciated our "little chats" (as he calls them) finding them "incredibly therapeutic".
I talked about how, for ages, I felt that I was banging my head against a brick wall. We'd talk about recovery on these walks and Ben would promise to do X, Y or Z, but he'd rarely keep his word. Not because he didn't want to, but because the anorexia meant that he just couldn't.
As I watched Ben get thinner and thinner, and more embedded in the anorexia, these walks and talks broke my heart, especially on days when things seemed totally without hope.
But lately, things have been very different. We're going over similar stuff, but the difference is that, since the Autumn, Ben has been actively committed to his recovery. We have turned a corner. These days, he follows up suggestions or discussions and we make significant progress. Far from banging my head against a brick wall, I actually feel I am doing good.
Watching the wildfowl silhouetted against the setting sun over the lake, we talked about exercising (how he's making a real effort to cut it back, and managing to do this reasonably successfully)... about easing back into school full time (and examining the problems that are making it hard for him - and working out ways to overcome them)... about socialising (the importance of the fantastic friendships he's developing with his supportive friends)... about eating (What has he found difficult this week? What challenges has he made himself? Were they successful? Plus, contrasting how different eating is now compared with several months ago)... about what life will look like without the anorexia (why he really looks forward to having kids when he's older - and also why life without anorexia seems real now, whereas only a few months ago it seemed unobtainable)... and so on. Phew, we covered a lot of ground - talking and walking!!
And, having walked and talked our way around virtually all the local countryside pathways, I've just sent off for a map of the adjacent area so we'll have a stack more countryside paths to walk and talk across soon!