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The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir
When all else fails, chocolate heals
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Annette Fix thought she had it all. She had been the sole support for her son for 12 years and was planning her happily ever after with the man of her dreams, when her life turned upside down and she got dumped. Hard.
Her immediate remedy? Hot fudge topping, and not spoonfuls. She needed vats of it. And fast.
Her breakup – and how she recovered – is told boldly, heartbreakingly and humorously as it unfolded in her book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir. What I love about this memoir is that it’s so much more about Annette’s life than just her breakup. She had her chocolate and her Wonderboy son to get her through the rough spots, and she charged onward. An alternative title might be: An Exotic Dancin’ Homeschoolin’ Mom’s Break-up Memoir.
Let’s meet this amazing mother, shall we?
Stephanie Elliot: So, you thought you were going to marry this guy and he ups and dumps you. What was the first thing that ran through your mind when he told you he didn’t want to be with you?
Annette Fix: The phone call was the worst way to find out. We lived together, but he went to work and called me from there. It didn’t help that he woke me up to tell me. It’s pretty hard to drag yourself out of a dream to comprehend the magnitude of a call like that. Of course, I started crying. I guess my first thought was, Why? Why am I not the One?
SE: I get the feeling that you have taken a lot of crap from people, and that you have a fierce mother’s instinct. For instance, you pulled your son out of school in sixth grade and impulsively decided to homeschool him? Before that meeting at the school with the principal and teachers, had you ever even entertained the thought of homeschooling?
AF: I was considering it, but I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. The catalyst for my decision to do it was based on my concern for my son. When a sixth grader comes home from school each day and says: “Everyone hates me and thinks I’m stupid. I wish I would just die,” that’s when you have to take a stand. Things could’ve turned out horribly if I hadn’t taken that cry for help seriously.
I homeschooled Wonderboy through junior high and allowed him to reenter public school when I was confident he was capable of succeeding. I honestly believe if I hadn’t stepped in and taken over his education when I did, by the time he would’ve reached high school, he would’ve either dropped out, become a delinquent or a drug addict, or killed himself. Now, at 20, Wonderboy is living on his own and working as a professional photographer.
SE: You worked as an exotic dancer to support your son. Were there any mortifying moments that you regret in being a dancer?
AF: One major thing about me working as a dancer that many people don’t realize (and I don’t often think to correct) is the perception of what it was really like. I was not the stereotypical dancer, and the gentlemen’s club where I worked was not a typical club. Guys jokingly refer to it as Disneyland with tits. It’s in a conservative, Republican, affluent area with a heavily Christian demographic. Welcome to the real OC.
The only time dancers were topless was for three minutes on stage, a mandatory six feet away from customers. Absolutely no touching allowed. So, essentially, the main source of income was $20 for three minutes of dancing in front of a guy while wearing a bikini. I made a comfortable living working 18 days a month, and considered myself a capitalist in eight-inch platform heels.
SE: Wow, those are some tall heels!
AF: It’s amusing to me that you used the word mortifying. The only thing “mortifying” to me was the hypocrisy of a youth minister from a local megachurch who came in for a beer and a lap dance, yet broke a land-speed record trying to avoid me at church the following Sunday.
I don’t have any problem with where I worked or how I carried myself while I was there. I spent more time talking to the guys than dancing for them. That includes a lot of time marriage counseling. You’d be surprised what men reveal about their relationships and their own thoughts and feelings when they know they won’t be judged and they know you can’t/won’t tell anyone their secrets.
SE: Were you ever afraid of your son’s reaction to finding out you worked as a topless dancer?
AF: My son did find out – on his 13th birthday. It wasn’t the way I would’ve wanted him to find out. Everyone thinks the answer to this question will be touchy or scandalous or whatever, but with the type of relationship my son and I have, the fact that I worked as a dancer didn’t (and doesn’t) have any bearing on my parenting skills, our relationship or anything else between us.
SE: Do you think if you hadn’t had your son to focus on during your breakup, you would not have recovered as you did?
AF: I think any woman who goes through a tough breakup has a hard time with it. I wouldn’t say it’s any easier or harder if you have a child. Although the dynamic is different. You can’t hide your broken heart from someone you live with. They see it. My son saw it, and at times, I’m sure it was difficult for him to see me hurting so much. But, on the other hand, I think it gave him a rare insight into how emotional women can be with regard to love and intimate relationships. I think it has made him a better man by seeing that. He is very careful with the girls he dates, because he doesn’t want to hurt them the way he saw me hurt.
SE: What are you doing now? Are you working on another book?
AF: In addition to being an author and a freelance editor, I’m the senior editor and co-owner of an online women’s writing magazine WOW! Women On Writing. And I’m branching out into speaking. It sort of fell into my lap when I was asked to give workshops at a writer’s conference. I’m still trying to decide which path to take. It’s the curse of a woman who loves so many things and wants to do it all, but has only so much time in a day! I’m sure many Betty readers can relate!
SE: If you were to have 10 minutes to say anything you wanted to “Kevin,” the guy who inspired The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, what would you tell him?
AF: I think I would want to know that he’s happy. And that he found someone who believes in him as much as I did. I hope he’s still pursuing his dream of golfing on tour. I tried so hard to help him reach those dreams. And I would want to thank him for knowing it wasn’t right between us and staying strong in what he believed – even when I didn’t understand and didn’t want to believe it. Because now I’m with someone who totally gets me and I’ve never been happier in my life.
SE: What is your advice to women going through a rough breakup? Do you really think chocolate is the answer?
AF: I think chocolate certainly helps! There were nights when I’d sit in front of the fireplace and eat fudge topping out of the jar – and I don’t mean a few spoonfuls; I mean the whole jar.
The thing I know that definitely doesn’t work is trying to scramble to find a replacement, just to fill the void, to find some sort of validation. I think it takes time, which will give perspective. It takes upbeat friends who can support you through it. It takes a focus on pursuing your own goals and passions so that you focus less on the loss. And it takes never giving up on the possibility for happiness.
Head on over to the BettyTalk forum to share your own breakup tale and to enter to win an autographed copy of The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir!