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: http://reabochner.com.