There is always a before and an after in these cases. A date that changes who you are and what you believed to be true. For me that day was January 28. I had recently returned from a study trip to France. We had visited the European Parliament and attended many lectures at the University of Strasbourg where some of the students had actually met and had coffee with a Nobel Prize winning chemist. One of the workshops which was given by a medical researcher who studied rare diseases. He explained that all the parents of these children share one thing in common; they all remembered the date of their child’s diagnosis. It’s impossible to forget the day that everything changes.
We returned home on a Saturday. On Monday I received the phone call. It was the school psychologist, a former colleague and friend of mine. “Your son is binging and purging. It’s been going on for some time now.”
Shocked. Speechless. Numb.
“You should observe.”
The reality is that I had been observing, just not in the right place.
My son returned home at 5:30 pm. I had prepared his afternoon snack as he was a vegetarian and avoided anything with meat or fish in the lunchroom. He ate it as usual. Then he went into the bathroom. I turned off the radio and the dishwasher. I took off my slippers and crept after him in my socks and hid behind the door. That’s when I heard it… for the first time.
It’s hard to explain what happened next. I was standing up but my body bent over. I clenched my chest and found it difficult to breathe. I also recall some involuntary shaking. There may have been other sensations but I can’t remember them. Simultaneously my mind was racing, or maybe it stopped. My son was doing this to himself. How could I have been so blind? I couldn’t bear the sound of it. I had to hide behind my bedroom door. I didn’t want him to see my reaction when he came out of the bathroom. The toilet flushed. Water. Cleaning up.
I wanted to die.
But I knew I couldn’t because I had to save him.
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