Remember those Bad Old Days when I used to dread our evening meals? The days when Ben would down tools and go crazy, usually triggered by something as "simple" as there being too much choice on the table. And he would rant and rave in the hallway, kicking things, banging his skull until I worried I'd hear the sound of splintering bone and yelling in that deep, dark, hopeless way that an eating disorder can sometimes make its victims do? Meanwhile, I would sit there at the table, tears streaming down my face, unable to cope and feeling utterly helpless and terrified?
These days, suppertime is back to what it should be: a family meal at the dining room table. A time to talk about how the day has been. A time to laugh. A time to share the latest mouth-watering menu from our kitchen, prepared by my talented son Ben.
And last night, as Ben sat at the dinner table, tucking into creamy tuna pasta and French bread, he said:
"I was thinking... It's the first time in four long years that I feel totally and completely happy and content. I have friends. Real friends. I have fun with them and meet up with them several times a week. These friends like me and I like them. We have a laugh. We play Warhammer together. Life is really good right now."
For almost four years Ben suffered from severe social anxiety as his eating disorder forced him to isolate himself from his peers. If you've read this blog you'll know how punishingly hard it was for Ben to get back into socialising again and build up a new friendship circle.
Until quite recently, he would sit alone at home, painting his Warhammer figures and watching TV with us. And I used to worry myself sick about it.
But lately he has built up a new circle of friends. Also, he has put himself about so he is well known within the Northern England Warhammer circuit. He won a couple of awards the other week and his impeccably painted miniatures are on show in the store window in the city centre Games Workshop shop. They feature on the Games Workshop website and blogs. Ben is becoming famous within the world of North UK Warhammer!
And with this has come this new friendship group. These guys play games together, huge table-top fantasy battles that can take hours, like they did yesterday afternoon.
Indeed, these days, these are the ONLY battles that go on across a table...
And, after each trip to Games Workshop, I open the front door to Ben (he always forgets to take a key!) and he stands on the doorstep, grinning from ear to ear. "Good time?" I ask. "Yes, fantastic," he replies.
It's not just a far cry from how it was back in the Bad Old Days of anorexia; it is a complete and utter turnaround.