Reading this autobiography, “Eating My Way to Heaven,” (Book Publishers Network, 2005), by Denise Martin was like watching a movie where all the characters are flawed and you find yourself cheering for the most damaged one of all; David, the father. Her mother, sister and brother are there, but recess into the dalliances of Martin finding herself by lending episodes of forgiveness to them that she never really gave to good old David.
A successful man in business on the outside yet portrayed as incapable of connecting mentally and emotionally to his family, especially with the author, Denise Martin. I kept hoping he would at least be kind to her, and sadly he never was. Martin takes us into the diary of her life as a lost child perhaps the identified one who was the most difficult and therefore the target for the families woes-clearly, you want to cheer for her, too, but can’t quite seem to get there. Martin’s survival instincts are strong and in, “Eating My Way to Heaven,” she joins her friends in a life of drugs and eating bad food early on. All the while, seemingly a witness to herself and the behaviors that she realizes are self destructive, she doesn’t break out of it, and like many at first she can’t seem to change.
If I had gone through what Martin had to meet Oprah and to get into the audience like she did, I would have put that important part of my history into the beginning of this book. I would also have placed the memory that surfaced as a result of a hypnosis session about the sexual abuse by her father alongside the Oprah encounter as Oprah has also spoken about having been sexually abused as a child. Martin hitchhiked 2,100 miles, got into the Oprah show against the odds, and yelled loudly from the audience, “I just want to tell her (Oprah), that I hitchhiked 2,100 miles to give her a message.”
“What’s the message?” Oprah asked.
“There is a connection between food and spirituality. I nearly died from sixteen years of bulimia, and what I have learned in my recovery is that food is part of the spiritual journey.”
“2,100 miles. Where are you from?” Oprah asked.
“Isn’t hitchhiking dangerous?” The final words from Oprah to Martin followed by Oprah’s exit from the set and a handshake episode with the audience … “When she got to me she grabbed my hand and pulled me towards her. She peered deep into my eyes as if to say, ‘Who are you lady?’ … I smiled lovingly at her.”
Sometimes, the connections are not what you see but what you may not see.
I do think however, that Martin is on to something, in fact a lot of things about food, the quality of what we eat, our acceptance of how it is grown, marketed and abused (if you will), and how the nutritional-spiritual component has been lost due to generational layers of poor family habits is real. She gets that. She generously wants others to get it too. What we eat and the behavior chemistry is not new, but Martin does jump into the apple grove with fortitude that is wonderfully healing.
Martin understandably has a special connection to children and shares in part the outcome of an experience at Albertina Kerr, a special facility for abused and abandoned children in Oregon. Briefly, she spent time with the overly medicated and exposed them to gardening and farming, “What happened to the plants in those gardens was nothing short of miraculous. Mother Nature gifted these deeply unhappy children with beets the size of grapefruits, sunflowers too big for their stalks, peas as sweet as candy and flowers that glowed and danced in the breeze.”
Once you get through Martin’s hitchhiking and traveling history that culminates to the food, equals spirituality, equals a better planet belief of Martin’s-you might just find that “Eating My Way to Heaven,” is a good read.