Without a crystal ball I can't possibly predict how university is going to turn out - in this, Ben's second attempt, starting tomorrow. I've been keeping a bit of a low profile on the topic because, well, that's just the way it seemed to pan out. Remember how I was so excited last year? Packing stuff and excitedly discussing intro week events, buying tickets for Ben to go to events and so on? Well, this year I've done none of that. Apart from dragging out last year's luggage which has been stashed away under various beds, on shelves and in the spare room, and going through it, I've done very little. Except the odd bit of nagging e.g. "Have you found out when W is moving in?" (W is an old friend from school who left at the end of the 5th form and is going to Sheffield, too.)
For all of us I think it's a case of playing it by ear. We are here if Ben needs us. I can pop down for a coffee or a walk whenever he feels the need. Or he can come back here. Our house is open, and he knows that. I will just leave it up to him.
But I (and no doubt Ben as well) can't help but be extremely apprehensive about what the next few days (let alone weeks or months) have in store. For any young person, let alone someone with Ben's history, it is a daunting experience as their whole life lurches into a completely new phase.
And I can tell that Ben is apprehensive; it's only natural.
So my way of coping with it seems to be to kind of anaesthetise my mind against it and not to think about it. To take it hour by hour rather than week by week, and let it all happen organically. Ben knows what he has to do to make a go of it this time. He knows he mustn't lock himself in his room because if he doesn't get out there and find it, it's not going to come to him. Well, it might. Like his old friend W who's living in the student residences down the road.
I've told him that he won't be the only one. Everyone is in the same situation. Unsure, homesick, worried about what image they are portraying to others, texting friends and home. "Remember when we saw the lady at student services last September?" I reminded him. "How she said we wouldn't believe the number of people she's seen this week already."
So he's not the only one. He needs to look through the facade that others are putting on and realise that they're all in the same uncertain boat. And that, by making overtures to people he feels he may not like, not only might he find he actually does get on with them but he will meet other people through them, too. A kind of snowballing social network that is university life.
And he is aware of all the various student support services on offer. Whether or not he will take advantage of them or just 'stew' is another thing.
I am aware that it's going to be bloody tough for him and all I can do is stand on the sidelines, observe as objectively as possible and provide the odd bit of moral support when required.
That's all I can say really at the moment.
To keep my mind off things, I'm meeting up with Sam Thomas from Men Get Eating Disorders Too tomorrow morning as he's in Leeds today. We're meeting for a coffee tomorrow morning. Ben isn't due to leave for uni until after lunch.