Thursday, 28 December 2017

Shaking hands with his old school teachers / rugby coaches

Last year I didn't do anything on Christmas Eve; I was in the throes of a C-PTSD attack. But this year Ben and I actually made it to the annual carol service which is held in the school chapel every Christmas Eve. We've attended it every year since 2005 (except for last year and one year when it was cancelled due to snow), even through the eating disorder years. This year was the first time, since the terrible Christmas of 2009 (when Ben was roller coasting into anorexia), that I haven't felt triggered in some way.

We arrived just as the congregation was singing 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' and squeezed into a pew beneath the upstairs balcony. On our left was Mr J, one of the Deputy Heads (now retired) and Ben's former rugby coach from one of the years before his eating disorder emerged. On our right was Mr H who'd been head of rugby back then and who was one of the first people to voice their concerns that something was very wrong with Ben.

By that time (Autumn 2009) Ben had lost a heck of a lot of weight and, as the eating disorder's vice-like grip got stronger, his behaviour began to get out of control. Amongst a long list of other distressing and out-of-character things, Ben had been seen in the school gym, exercising like a robot. Mr H and one of the other PE staff were getting increasingly worried which was why they had a word with Shirley, the school nurse, and why she called me in for a chat which resulted in my husband calling the GP and insisted on a referral for eating disorder treatment.

But, this Christmas Eve... 2017... here I was singing Christmas carols next to Ben who looked absolutely amazing and was in a Good Mood. I could see the two girls in the pew in front of us taking sneaky looks and I felt was a tremendous sense of pride at having such a good-looking son, not to mention a son who'd excelled academically at university and - MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL - a son who had kicked the anorexia out of his life.

Then, after the service, both rugby coaches came straight over to shake Ben's hand and ask how he was getting along. Mr H commented on how "very well" Ben looked. The contrast between the Ben of Christmas 2009 and - worse, due to the loss of even more weight - Christmas 2010 and this Christmas Eve was evident for all to see.

Meanwhile, I stood there, bursting with even more pride as Mr J instructed me to "make sure you bring him along every Christmas" and I replied with: "These days it's him who brings me along!"

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