ELT is a 40-something academic who has lived with anorexia since her teens. She is now in remission and always insists on Full Cream Milk in her favourite Cappuccino with Chocolate Sprinkles, naturally. She is one of the many friends and contacts I've made in the world of Eating Disorders over the past months and years, and she lives just around the corner from me.
ELT has also researched extensively into eating disorders and knows her stuff - inside out.
I like meeting ELT for coffee in my local Starbucks because she always gives me invaluable insights into what it is like to live with an eating disorder. Her experience isn't a carbon copy of Ben's by any means, but - like so many experiences of anorexia - there is a heck of a lot of common ground.
Meeting ELT also gives me a great opportunity to talk about the issues that have been bothering me lately, as the mum of a teenage boy recovering from anorexia.
ELT has met Ben. We met up at Pizza Express back in the summer along with another ED mum friend and her daughter who is the same age and at the same stage of recovery as Ben.
Yesterday ELT remarked that Ben still looked very thin when she saw him, and also a little withdrawn.
And she's not the only person who has said this to me recently. But, then, I firmly believe that Ben needs to put on more kilos before he reaches his optimum weight. I always have done.
Like my mum, I tend to talk pretty loud (I think??) because I'm going deaf in one ear and I noticed that ELT was responding quietly to anything I said. Was I talking too loud? Was our conversation being overheard by everyone in Starbucks? There we were talking about anorexia, mental health, traumatic events and anorexia as a potential killer while everyone around us was catching up on the local gossip or surfing the Net.
I noticed a couple opposite who were obviously on maternity / paternity leave. The dad had the new baby boy on his lap, his face a picture of emotion as he marveled at the tiny fingers and toes.
What did the future hold for them, I wondered. Would that little boy grow up big and strong like every parent hopes and prays? I hoped and prayed he would - and that the mum wouldn't be talking about the kind of issues we were talking about in several years' time.
Seeing a new family like that always affects me and I'm instantly reminded of when H and I would go places with the new born Ben 18 years ago. Only, unlike that placid little boy, Ben was always screaming blue murder and making it impossible for anyone to enjoy a quiet coffee. Being partially deaf in one ear would probably have been an advantage back then!
But it was great to meet up with ELT again yesterday and I look forward to our next meeting.