The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Mid-Life: A Q&A with Betsy Brenner

Betsy Brenner

**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptom use. Please use your own discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.

Betsy Brenner is a high school tennis coach, bereavement group facilitator, and a retired hospital attorney. For many years, she worked as a hospice volunteer and speaker on grief and loss. More recently, Betsy has been an eating disorder recovery speaker, peer support mentor, and support group co-leader. Her recovery story has been shared widely on many eating disorder blogs and websites. Originally from Rochester, New York, Betsy and her husband Jeff have resided in Barrington, Rhode Island for 30 years and are the proud parents of three grown children. 

Here Betsy tells us about her memoir, The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Mid-Life, how healing from trauma doesn’t have an age limit, and how sharing your story can be incredibly empowering.

Describe the process of writing your book, The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Mid-Life. 

I had written my recovery story several years earlier and was told that my story had the makings of a book if I were willing to put the time and effort into expanding it. The pandemic gave me that time. I started by mapping out my life–for example, important people, places, and events. I then took the time to read through all of my diaries and journals from childhood and adulthood. This allowed me a wide lens directly into my past. Thus, my writing was enriched beyond memories and recollections. I share quotes from these diaries throughout my memoir. I wrote one chapter at a time from March 2020 through January 2021. My memoir was published on May 5, 2021.

What do you hope readers get from the book?

My inspiring message is that it is never too late to be a work in progress! In midlife and beyond, it is possible to heal from past trauma and recover from an eating disorder. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. At any age, we can become healthier in body, mind, and spirit.

Any excerpts you can share with us? 

I would like to share an excerpt from the last chapter of the book. The chapter is titled, “Inner Peace.”

“Recovery required that I give myself permission to feel all feelings and emotions, both positive and negative, without guilt. I am no longer at war with myself and have learned to embrace authenticity, vulnerability and connection with those who understand me and accept me for who I am.”

How has the response been so far?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I remember being nervous about first sharing my cover on social media, revealing that I had struggled with an eating disorder. I was always a private person, but now, literally being an “open book” has been truly freeing and empowering. Readers, including family, friends, and strangers, have applauded my courage and vulnerability. Sharing my personal story has fueled my passion for giving hope and inspiration to those who are struggling.

Is there anything you want to say to women at midlife and beyond who are experiencing an eating disorder?

It is never too late to be a work in progress! Please do not give up! It is possible to heal, recover, and begin a new chapter. Recovery makes it possible to be fully present in your life and live that life to the fullest!

The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Mid-Life is available on Amazon.

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