Category Archives: featured

We have a podcast…..

I’m so excited to tell you about my new podcast. The Real Deal: Recovery talk with Julie Maida and Veronica Valli
You guys have asked me for a long time if I have a podcast, while finally, I do. If you don’t know Julie, you totally should. Julie is the founder of Sober Mommies, a non-profit dedicated to helping mothers in recovery.
I always liked Julie’s vibe and when we connected at She Recovers it confirmed everything that I hoped was true. She was my kind of girl.
Julie and I are also sober twins. We got sober at exactly the same moment. We share the sobriety date May 2nd, 2000. We both bring 17 years of continuous sobriety to the table and between us have experience in just about everything that can happen in long-term recovery.
We intend our podcast to be real, honest talk about life in sobriety. The challenges, the joys and everything in-between. We take requests, so if there’s something you want to be discussed then get in contact.
You can subscribe to the podcast here.

Relationships and drinking

I am over 17 years sober and have been with my husband for 11 years. I cannot emphasize how astounding it is for me to write those words. Because whilst drinking, my relationship history was a spectacular disaster. I really wasn’t capable of a healthy relationship until I got sober, and even then it took a bit of work.
Relationships don’t come easily to a lot of people, but it’s even harder for people who drink. Add some alcohol abuse to a relationship and stand back and wait for the explosion.
Dating and drinking
For me, relationships and alcohol were inextricably linked. I drank so I could meet ‘someone.’ I drank to get over being dumped; I drank because I was scared of being alone. I always drank the first time I slept with someone. I drank on all of my dates. I drank because I had no idea how to have a relationship sober.
My relationships whilst drinking were complete and utter disasters. In hindsight, all of my relationships were based on my misguided belief that the right person would ‘fix me’. If I had the right relationship, the right man, then everything would be perfect.
I was still focusing on external fixes at this point and it really didn’t cross my mind that I was an insecure, manipulative, dishonest, frightened, needy, shallow, unmanageable, screwed-up mess, and that no right minded, decent, emotionally intelligent man would come within a hundred paces of me.
Instead of attracting the right man, I attracted a lot of wrong men. Because you see, emotionally healthy people are just not attracted to the kind of person I was. Unhealthy men, however, found me very attractive and I had endless pointless, insincere relationships, because frankly it was better than being on my own.

Relationships as a ‘fix’
However, a relationship is never going to work when two love-starved and needy individuals demand the other person ‘fix them’. I just had nothing to give.
As I wasn’t capable of having a healthy functioning relationship, I took ‘hostages’. I grabbed on to someone and didn’t let go, no matter what I thought or felt. I was just desperate not to be alone. I ‘engineered’ all of my relationships. I was controlling and manipulative. Some of the men I had relationships with I cared for, but the truth was that they were never based on love. They were based on fear.
Fear of:
• not being loved
• being ‘left on the shelf’.

And once in the relationship, the fear was of:
not being good enough,
• being rejected,
• having them discover who I really was.

I used sex to get love and attracted men who used love to get sex.

Relationships in recovery can be equally hazardous because without the security blanket of alcohol we are laid bare. We are exposed and we are most definitely frightened as hell. Romantic relationships key into our deepest fears of not being worthy of love. We are frightened of the other person getting too close, seeing who we really are and rejecting us, thus confirming what we believed in the first place – a faulty belief, by the way. So from the start we are unconsciously pushing the other person away and acting on this faulty belief and, in this way, we create this as our experience again and again. And thus the faulty belief is reinforced.

It’s the constant illusion that love from another person will make all the bad stuff go away. But the truth is that when you don’t love yourself, or even like yourself, it’s impossible to receive love from another person. We either destroy that love under the weight of our insecurities and fear, or we settle for second best because we are so scared of rejection or being alone, or worse, because we believe we don’t deserve better. If we indulge in those feelings for too long then we will eventually drink again, because we use alcohol as an anesthetic.
A new love
But there is a way out of this pattern. And God knows if I can do it you can too. The first step is to have a close look at your patterns. Look at where you make decisions based on fear instead of love. Then acknowledge your fears. Your fears limit you. Pick them apart, bit by bit. It’s a process and it’s hard work but I’ve seen lots of people break these chains. If you can practice self-honesty. Then you are on the road.

Sign up for more posts on relationships in the next few weeks.

Exhaustion, sobriety and motherhood

pexels-photo-269141Most of us realize pretty soon after we get sober that alcohol was never really the true problem. That in fact, it was life that was the problem. Newly sober, we have the challenge of living life without the crutch of alcohol.

We need tools and the instructions on how to use those tools, but most of all we need each other. This path cannot be walked alone. Ask around, many have tried, it never ends well.
Healthy sobriety is about connection and living our truth.
Eventually, if we stick with it, sobriety becomes our ‘new normal’ and our old life seems like it belonged to a different person.
The challenges don’t stop when we get sober, in fact, most of us have lots of learning and growth opportunities to grapple with that we postponed because of our drinking. Like developing emotional intelligence for instance and responding to our feelings in a healthy manner, not a destructive one. Creating balance in our lives where we used to have chaos.

Yep, balance is essential to healthy recovery.
Just because I have balance today does not mean I will have it tomorrow.

I have to work at balance in my life especially now that I’m a mother.
I wouldn’t say that my recovery was easy, it wasn’t, but it was certainly easier than drinking and using. I had a major crisis at about 3 years sober because of a relationship (dating disaster hell) and a few more speed bumps along the way. But I found that as long as I continued to stay connected and use the tools I was given I was able to learn and grow through each challenge.
I was 12 years sober when I had a baby, so I had some solid sobriety under my belt. However becoming a mother was an enormous learning curve. I didn’t sleep for a year. My son is now 5 and I have another son who is 2. I can’t remember what it’s like to feel properly rested. I look back at my old life and actually feel embarrassed at ever complaining I was tired before.
Exhaustion became my ‘new normal’.
All I did for the first year of motherhood was look after my darling one whilst trying to remember to shower occasionally. I didn’t use any of my recovery tools because I didn’t think I needed to. I wasn’t doing a whole lot, I certainly wasn’t getting resentments and I adored my baby beyond anything so I just cruised for a while.
Then came a speed bump. It was a big one.

My son was about 15 months old when I realized I just didn’t feel right in myself. People were starting to annoy me and I was withdrawing from my husband. I was exhausted, nothing else mattered except sleeping and taking care of my son.

Despite my exhaustion, I had to find some internal strength to do what I’ve always done; to take care of myself spiritually and emotionally. Even bone crunching exhaustion wasn’t a good enough excuse.
My mind is insidious like that, it will still look for reasons to not do the things that are good for me. It will always try and find the easier option.
But there is not easier option for someone like me.

I wasn’t close to taking a drink, but I know the pathway to drinking and I had stepped on it. Maybe I’d have stayed a dry drunk for years, who knows?
But there’s no way I want to find out.
My sons deserve a sober mother, but they also deserve an emotionally healthy and spiritually fit mother too. Becasue there’s so much more to staying sober than just not drinking.

“Yes, I’m definitely a virgin, thanks.’

Twice this week I went to a fundraising gala that had an open bar. And at each event, I ordered my signature cocktail; a Shirley Temple.
And each time the bartender said to me ‘are you sure you don’t want me to put some vodka in that?’

I have to admit I struggle a bit with open bars. Not that they tempt me to drink, I just think it’s incredibly ironic that when drinking alcohol, I never seemed to end up in an open bar situation. In hindsight, this was probably a good thing, lifesaving even. My mother is from the post-war generation (bear with me) who grew up with rationing, so she installed me the belief that it was sinful to waste food…. or drink. Along with growing up fairly poor, it was equally sinful to waste free food or drink. So, there is an internal struggle within me when I am at these events to not waste anything. Which is why I always order a Shirley Temple. As I at least feel like I’m going someway to getting my money’s worth….

In case you need it spelled out; Shirley Temple is a virgin cocktail i.e. it contains no liquor. NO LIQUOR. If I wanted liquor I would order liquor. I’m really just good with the sugar rush thanks.

I’ve had years and years of experience of turning down drinks, I’m very skilled and a polite but firm ‘no thanks,’ that makes it clear to not keep pushing me. Because it can sometimes be a little wearing. Not to mention, that this insistence one day could come on a really, really bad day, when I’m low on resources and a ‘yes’ just pops out of my mouth. And then my innocent Shirley Temple turns into a weapon of mass destruction in my hands.

So, do me a favor. If you drink that’s great but please don’t push it on people who don’t. If someone orders a soda or water respect the fact they are a grown up and if they wanted alcohol they would DAMN WELL ORDER ALCOHOL.
Because if someone was gluten free you wouldn’t keep insisting they eat bread, would you?
And leave me to my Shirley Temple’s. Because it seems after all, that it is possible to become a virgin again.

Recovery Rocks – Liv Pennelle

FullSizeRenderI met Olivia on Facebook, there was something about her posts and humor that I really liked. Plus, like me, she is a Brit who now lives in the USA. When she needed somewhere to stay so she could attend SheRecoversNYC I didn’t hesitate. I just knew we would get on. Luckily for me, we more than hit it off and it was so great to have someone to share the traveling and experience with. The wonderful thing about the online sober community is so many people I’ve met online have become real life friends. Liv is now a friend and I’m so happy I can share her story with you.
About Liv
Writer and wellness advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. Liv passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is a resource for the journey toward health and wellness in recovery. For Liv, the kitchen represents the heart of the home: to eat, share, and love. You will find Liv featured amongst top recovery writers and bloggers, published on websites such as: Recovery.Org, The Fix, Intervene, Workit Health, iExhale, Sapling, Addiction Unscripted, Transformation is Real, Sanford House, Winward Way & Casa Capri.

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’

I ended up in my apartment having left my job, completely alone, with few friendships left. I’d drank 14 bottles of wine and taken a packet of codeine over three days. I was covered in blood and my apartment was a chaotic mess. I had zero recollection of what had happened. I reached a point of surrender: I had utterly had enough, to the very core of my being. Something had shifted and I was faced with two choices: either to die, or to get help. Emotionally I was shattered into a million pieces; thoroughly broken. Mentally, I was acutely depressed. I had a breakdown. I chose to get help.

2) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?

Hell and enlightening at the same time. I might have made it through the acute effects of alcohol poisoning, but what I was left with was a shell of a person. I had gained 150 pounds by drinking, using, and binge-eating.

Mentally, I felt utterly broken. I had zero comprehension of who I was, or how I had ended up there. The best description I have heard of the first few weeks of recovery, was like someone turned the volume right up and put the lights on full blast. I felt like I was on stage for all to see—completely exposed, with nothing to hide behind. Yet, I was compelled to walk this new path and am so glad that I did.

3) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?

I got clean and sober, and have maintained that for over five years.

I have no desire to use.

When I stop living in fear and start living in faith everything has been provided for me. For example, I moved to America and have acquired work each week since I arrived. I have been through some pretty traumatic times (the death of my brother, breaking my arm) and have been able to stay sober.

4) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?

That I was worthy of so much more than survival, and that a life of my dreams was waiting just as soon as I put down the bottle.

5) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?

I realized what a strong and incredible human I am; who is able to overcome trauma, turmoil, and her demons, and triumph over them.

I discovered that I have an incredible entrepreneurial spirit, which
enabled me to start a side hustle which turned into a career. I carved out a niche in the online recovery community, in the area of the journey toward health and wellness in recovery. I was able to quit a job I hated and move across the world to pursue a full-time freelance position as a writer and entrepreneur.

I uncovered creative talent. In fact, creative expression is a cornerstone of my program of recovery—as much as exercise.

I know who I am today, and am not ashamed to stand tall and declare it.

6) Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.

I moved continent to pursue a dream and it came true.

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?

All it takes is faith, trust and pixie dust.

You are so much stronger than you think.

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’

What is great about recovery is that:
• it gives me the space to process what is happening and how I choose to respond—life is no longer reactionary (most of the time)
• I no longer have to spend my life consumed and obsessed with getting my next hit to avoid life
• Life today is something I actively want to experience rather than exist in
• I experience great joy in my life
• I am able to have a relationship with myself—a person who I love today.

Liv and I on the train to SheRecoversNYC

Liv and I on the train to SheRecoversNYC

She Recovers Day 3 – and when I ugly-cried in front of 500 women

Marianne Williamson and me at She Recovers

Marianne Williamson and me at She Recovers

We have all been to a meeting, an event, to see an acclaimed speaker, and felt that they spoke only to you. That their words were already written on our souls, they just had to call them forth.
That’s what happened to me when I heard Marianne Williamson speak at She Recovers.

This wasn’t why I came. I came because I had the incredible honor of being invited onto the sober blogger team. I came to serve. I had no idea there was so much here that I needed. But my soul knew.

Marianne is the spiritual teacher I had been waiting for, for a long time. A Course in Miracles is my spiritual truth. This is the second time I had heard her and she delivers such a powerful and important message. I love how politically engaged she is. The personal is political, Marianne made that very clear. What we are doing to our planet, how women and children’s voices are silenced. She spoke to me today.

As I wrote yesterday, the theme of this whole event has been about ‘pain.’ Her quote ‘Let me not squander the hour of my pain’ pierced my soul.
I am in pain, but the enormity of it frightened me so much I have been holding it at bay. She Recovers showed me I could no longer do that.
I am a warrior. I have felt deep dark emotional pain before and I can get through anything. Anything. You can throw anything at me and I will get through it. I have done before. But just don’t throw it at my child, ok? Because that is a level of pain I am not prepared for. But it is here and it is mine. And. I. Will. Not. Squander. It.

Because Marianne spoke so passionately about the planet and the political situation we are currently in I wanted to ask her if she was going to run for Congress again. Like many of us, I have felt despair at our current political situation and I want a leader I can believe in.
I wasn’t expecting to full on ugly cry in front of y’all. I wasn’t expecting 500 women to surround me with unconditional love. I wasn’t expecting Marianne Williamson to lead the room in prayer for Luke’s healing from lead poisoning*.
I just wasn’t expecting that.
But my soul thanks you, for grace you extended to me.

This weekend has given me so much to think about. It has deepened my connections with you all. Every time I see you, I love you more. We are all in these incredible process’s, but what matters is we are all in it together.

I am still digesting what was said and how I feel. I know there is so much growth that will come from this. But for right now, I’m treasuring that Marianne Williamson came and said exactly what I needed to hear.

My son Luke. He likes mud.

My son Luke. He likes mud.

*If you are interested in learning more about lead poisoning in young children then please check out my friend Tamara Rubin’s website. Tamara is a mom whose children were lead poisoned by the house they were living in. She has since become an ‘unexpected lead expert’ and activist. She has worked tirelessly to help families and raise awareness of the situation and has been a great support to me. Her movie ‘Mislead’ is coming out soon and you can watch the trailer below.

She also has a ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign where she is raising money to buy an XRF machine (the best way to test any object for lead) so she can help more families. If you are able to support her in any way I would be very grateful.

She Recovers NYC – lets meet up

We are just days away from the She Recovers event in NYC. I will be taking part in the ‘meet the bloggers’ event on Friday night at 5pm. The sober blogging team will be around all weekend and we love to hang out, so please be sure to come and say hi.
I will be giving 5 copies of my best-selling book ‘Why you drink and How to stop’ away to the first 5 readers who come up and introduce themselves.
I will also be celebrating 17 years of recovery with the very lovely Julie Maida from ‘Sober Mommies’. We are sober twins, sharing the exact same sober birthday. I will be blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting and Instagraming live all weekend.
If you can’t come then check out social media and become part of the She Recovers global group.

Sobriety – what I’ve learned so far….

Image courtesy of Prakairoj /

Image courtesy of Prakairoj /

On May 2nd 2017 I celebrate 17 years of continuous sobriety. This did not come easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I made some big mistakes along the way. But through these mistakes I learnt some vital lessons that have helped me stay sober and become the best version of myself that I’m capable of being.
Long term recovery means you never stop learning and growing. Here are the things that have helped me learn and grow the most….

1. Just when you think you’ve nailed it…..
More than once I’ve thought ‘I’ve got this!’ ‘I know everything there is to know about recovery and addiction’, ‘I’ve dealt with all my issues…. I don’t really need to do anymore work on myself’. Yep, that usually happens right before I fall flat on my arse.

2. The growth never stops…
Ever. I mean, like never, ever stops. It smooth’s out a lot, things are definitely less bumpy. But there is always more to know and if you think you know, all there is to know, then see above.

3. We teach other people how to treat us.
My behavior will instruct you on whether to walk all over me, abuse me or hurt me. Instead, I can teach you how to treat me, with the boundaries I protect and by saying what I mean.

4. Say what you mean, mean what you say…
People do not need to hear me waffling on about my story, they do not need excuses, they generally just need a truthful ‘yes’ or a ‘no.’ my life became so much similar and calmer when I learnt how to do this.

5. I have to take responsibility for the experience I want to have.
By practicing the above I become responsible for the experience I am having right now. If events or circumstances are out of my control then I always get to choose my response. Therefore, I am responsible for my experience, in all circumstances, without fail.

6. If you don’t do the work, the shine will go off your recovery.
Being sober is just not enough. I need more than that. If I don’t put the work in, then I may stay sober, but I’ll stop feeling comfortable in my own skin. I’ll drift back to being discontent and fearful. Which means I have to keep being accountable and looking and reflecting on my behavior.

7. Give it away to keep it.
When my life came together in sobriety and my career and personal life went well I forgot to work with newcomers. Don’t do that. Giving of yourself is actually what fills your tanks.

8. Does it always need to be said and does it need to be said by you?
Not usually, I have discovered. Only give your opinion if explicitly asked, trust me, it saves a lot of time and trouble.

9. Exercise
Out of everything I have just told you, this is the most important one. Seriously, the benefits of exercising on your emotional well-being outweigh everything else you can possibly do.

10. Practice listening.
None of us listen well. Quiet the noise in your head and really focus on what people are saying. You will be amazed at what you hear.

11. It was never about you
OMG! The relief! It was never about me anyway. What YOU did or said, had bollocks all to do with my life. Everyone else is wrapped up in their own stuff too! Now I can stop worrying what other people think and get on with it!

12. Nothing is ever personal
See above. What other people do, say or think is always about them, not me. Even when it seems like it is, what other people do or say, always without fail, comes through the filters of their own experience, values and judgment. Therefore it is not personal to me but a simple expression of how they feel at that particular time. Took me a while to get that one.

13. The journey is joyous….
It was never the destination. We are always in a state of becoming the best version of ourselves. Uncovering who we really are is the point of it all. All I ever had to do was just keep moving.

14. Be still.
I am a human ‘being’ not a human ‘doing.’ Life is not an never-ending ‘To-do’ list. Sometimes it is in the stillness, or the quiet moments that we feel the most alive.

15. Love well
There was always much love here for me; I just refused to see it for a while. Always choose love, the chooses I have made in my life based on fear have never worked out. If I choose love, then things don’t always work out the way I want or planned but man, is the adventure a good one!

16. Friendships above all else.
At some point you will have cause to regret not making more effort to see your friends. We get busy, life gets in the way. But friendship is the soil your spirit needs to grow in. Good friends are hard to find, which is why treasuring the ones you have is more important that anything.

17. Ask for help
You will always need others to help you, friends (see above), or professionals. No matter how many years sober you have, life willthrough you a curve ball and it will be more than you can handle. Asking for help is skill that you can never forget. No matter how old you are.

The Opiod epidemic is the new AIDS crisis

I was driving the other day when a Prince song came on the radio. I felt so sad listening to him, his death was so unnecessary. Then it struck me, that despite a star of his magnitude dying of an opiate overdose, still, nothing has changed.
His death wasn’t the turning point.
50,000 people die every year from opiate overdoses. We are in the middle of a crisis and we have still no adequate response.

With permission by

With permission by

Andrew Sullivan wrote this piece on the Opiate epidemic, that it is our generation’s AIDS crisis. He is right and our response should be of the same magnitude.

In the 1980’s no one cared about AIDS. It only affected gay men, and in many people’s eyes they pretty much deserved what they got, with their devious immoral behavior. Communities were just devastated, the number of deaths increasing monthly. But no one did anything. Until a small group of outraged, devastated and determined people got together and started advocating. Motivated by anger, desperation and the inability to just stand by and watch this happen to their community, they started making a nuciense of themselves. They got in people’s faces and they kept demanding help until they got it.
They kept going until momentum started to build. Sure, it took ‘straight’ people dying of HIV for people to realize that this was a potential threat to everyone, to really get things going. But the response to the AIDS crisis really demonstrated what a small determined bunch of advocates can really do. Now AIDS research, prevention and treatment is extremely well-funded and understood. And most importantly the unnecessary deaths have stopped.

Why don’t we care enough about the opioid crisis? Across the country there are groups of angry and determined people who are demanding a response to this epidemic but we still don’t have the momentum and visibility required to really make a difference.
Chris Christie has just been appointed to the White House to tackle this crisis. I hope he succeeds, but it requires an effort on all fronts. More treatment, more education but most of all more regulations on the pharmaceutical companies who are pumping opiate based drugs into (particularly) rural communities. We need to be more angry about this. Because this is the main point, why aren’t the pharmaceutical companies being held accountable?*

I hear about the opiate crisis a lot on the news but what I don’t hear is talk of a plan. ‘We need to do something.’ Yeah, no s**t.
And still the deaths go on. It’s more like Prince and the (complete lack of a drug) Revolution.

*Senator McCaskill is launching an investigation into int the marketing, sales and profits of the largest opioid manufacturers.

Rea Bochner – in recovery from food addiction

Rea Bochner is in recovery from food addiction. I think you will find her story moving and powerful. So many people suffer with food issues but we still don’t talk about it enough.
Here’s more about the book:
The Cape House is a story both personal and universal, told with fearless honesty and laugh-out-loud humor. It begins on the day that Bochner’s mother, Debbi, tells her that she’s received a prognosis of terminal cancer, and has decided to move to the family’s beloved summer home in Cape Cod to die. Over the next six weeks, as Debbi deteriorates, Bochner writes the story of her family, and looks back on the winding road she trudged with her mother through addiction, recovery, and redemption. Readers travel with the author from Phoenix, Arizona, to a medieval Dutch castle, to the Old City of Jerusalem, where an array of colorful characters shape her destiny in unexpected ways. Meanwhile, Bochner presents a real-life portrait of a family struggling to stay together, even as their personal journeys threaten to tear them apart.

As both a eulogy for and a celebration of an exceptional woman, Rea Bochner writes unflinchingly of the powerful bond between a mother and her daughter. The result is a moving book that carries the readers from tears to laughter, from mourning to triumph. The Cape House is a testament to love as a force of nature, and the journey of one woman to discover herself.

Tell me about your own recovery:
I struggled with food from the time I was young. I knew in kindergarten I was different from other kids; no one else dug half-eaten pizza crusts out of the garbage can or stole snacks from other kids’ lunch boxes. By eight, I was very overweight. At ten I started the first of many commercial diets, which I always failed. By fourteen, I weighed well over 200 pounds. At 16, as I approached 250, I tried to curb the weight gain with bulimia, which continued on and off until my early twenties. Around that time I also started experimenting with alcohol; although I never went as far down as I did with food, it was rare that I drank normally – I almost always binge-drank. I walked into my first 12-step meeting at 19 and had no idea what was going on. What was no one weighing me? Where was the food I was supposed to buy? I struggled for two years before I finally surrendered and was willing to do whatever it took to get better. Yesterday, March 29, was my 13th anniversary of the night I got abstinent. The big lie I told myself for years before I got clean was that once I was thin, my life would be perfect. I would be perfect. But lo and behold, a year and a half after I got abstinent, I reached my goal weight and discovered I was crazier than I’d been at 250. After I discovered the pain and loneliness hadn’t gone away, I started working the twelve steps in earnest and had a real spiritual experience. Around that time, I met my husband, who has only ever known me in recovery, with whom I had three boys, who have only ever known a mother in recovery. I’ve since gone through all kinds of ups and downs – financial struggle, job changes, motherhood, moving, the loss of my mother, and many others, without picking up. Underneath, I’ve always known that I’m being carried, that I’m meant for important work in this world. So I hold on and keep moving forward, keep growing, even when it’s difficult.

Why did you decide to write such a personal book?

There were a few reasons. First of all, before she died, my mother asked me to write the book, and I wanted to honor that request. I wanted to pay her the tribute she deserved while giving a real-life picture of what it looks like to help someone die. Many people have never experienced it, and I hope that by sharing mine it will empower people if they should ever have to go through it themselves, or offer solidarity to those who have already gone through it. Also, there was no way to talk about my mother’s and my relationship without talking about my addiction and recovery, because it was so tied up how we related to each other. I was sick and wanted her to save me, and she thought that was her job. It was only when I took responsibility for myself that things changed for both of us. I also wanted to be frank about what food addiction looks like because, despite the awareness of alcohol and drug addiction, there still seems to be stigma and moral judgment about that particular eating disorder. People don’t seem to realize that food addiction is just as real as alcohol and drug addiction. So I wanted to bring some light to that, in case someone struggling with it would see they’re not alone.

So many people suffer from food issues and have no idea how to solve the problem. Could you say more about what you feel was under your food addiction?

I was an imaginative yet anxious kid, very fearful, and I used food to anesthetize that. Fear played a big part in my life and informed almost every decision I made, and food was the only way I could cope. I remember always feeling different from my peers, not just because of my food or my weight, but just a sense, which many addicts have, that everyone but me had read the manual for life. It was a very lonely way to grow up, and again, food became my companion. I also grew up in a Jewish family, and many of our traditions revolve around food, so it was a perfect storm. Turning to food was a habit I integrated very young, to the point where I didn’t even think about it anymore; it was just what I did. There was anger under there, too, though it wasn’t something I recognized until much later, after I’d gotten clean and surprised myself by how rageful I was. Lastly, food was my way to hide from responsibility, and to control my life. If I could hide in my body and keep the parameters of my life small, then I didn’t have to worry about success or failure or getting hurt. Working the twelve steps and developing a relationship with a higher power was really my answer to all of these things; it didn’t wipe out the fear and loneliness, but gave me tools to coexist with them without self-destructing.

And, what would you say to someone who was struggling the way you were?
It’s not always going to be like this. There is a way out. And when you’re ready for help, there are thousands of us who are ready to show up.

About the author:
Rea Bochner is a writer, speaker, and recovering mother of five. She wrote her first haiku in third grade and has been writing ever since. Known for her witty, honest voice, Rea tackles subjects as disparate as pregnancy and parenting, grief, addiction and recovery, spirituality, and women’s issues. Her work has been featured in a wide variety of print and web media, including the New York Times Bestselling “Small Miracles” series. She holds a BA in Film from Emerson College and an MA in Education from Montclair State University. “The Cape House” is her debut memoir.

You can learn more about the book (and me) by visiting my website: