My mother was killed by anorexia and it ruined my childhood. My mother had so many different personas. On one hand, she was funny, wacky and a talented artist who never gave herself credit for the outstanding drawings she created. But then she was also volatile, stubborn and an expert liar. Mum was so good at manipulating me and pretending there was nothing wrong with her. She never once admitted the fact that she was anorexic – even though she’d been battling it since she was 16.
Anorexia ruined my childhood
I wish I’d known that my mum’s mood swings, controlling tendencies and weird food habits were all part of her illness, then I wouldn’t have been so angry with her all those years. I didn’t know exactly why, I just knew our situation wasn’t normal.
My parents split up not long after I was born. Dad was an alcoholic. I’d see him on weekends and he’d take me to McDonald’s and give me money to spend on food. Sometimes he’d take me supermarket shopping; I’d bring all the groceries home, but Mum would often go mad and throw most of it out. I became good at hiding stuff in my room and eating it in secret. I was also lucky that my mum’s parents lived only a few minutes up the road, so I’d have dinner at their house at least once a week. They were the most stable relationship I had at that time; they were my saviours. However, I never said to them, ‘Things aren’t right at home, I need your help’. The food was enough for me – I didn’t want to upset Mum.
Mum always said we had to eat healthily, yet she gave me vegetables from a can, never anything fresh. When I had friends over, she’d serve tinned spaghetti. If she made me a packed lunch, it might be a lettuce sandwich with no butter – just bits of bread and a piece of lettuce.
Some days, I’d come home from school and Mum would be really nice and relaxed. She’d sit next to me and draw while I’d do my homework. Other times, she’d fly off the handle about the slightest thing. Mum would send me to the shops with very specific instructions. I once came home with a tin of tuna in oil instead of brine and she went ballistic and told me to go back and exchange it. I had some pocket money so I bought a tin of tuna in brine for her and secretly ate the tuna in oil.
My mothers anorexia ruined my childhood
If Mum was happy and having a good day, she’d want to cuddle me, but it was more upsetting than comforting because she was just skin and bones. She always felt cold. Her hands were often freezing and, even on warm days, she would wear baggy jumpers.
Raed part two of how my mother’s anorexia ruined my childhood here.