Excerpt: Valerie Bertinelli's 'Finding It'

Read the first chapter of new memoir from "One Day at a Time" star.

ByABC News
October 5, 2009, 11:06 AM

Oct. 6, 2009 — -- The following excerpt from Valerie Bertinelli's new book, "Finding It -- and Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge," a follow-up to her memoir "Losing It -- and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time," comes courtesy of Simon & Schuster publishers.

Chapter One

The Sex Talk

The only time I enjoyed being fat was when I was pregnant. Iweighed nearly 180 pounds, and I was in heaven. As I ate Italiansubs that my mom made to tide me over between meals, I wouldsmile at the thought of the miracle of bringing a life into this world,a life that I would raise and nurture, guide and fill with love andwisdom. It was a special time in my life.

I did not think the same thing when that miraculous creationof mine called on the phone from the road where he was touringwith his father's band and said, "Hey, Ma, can I sleep at my girlfriend'shouse?"

I wanted to vomit.

Actually, I wanted to open the fridge and eat everything on thesecond shelf, the third shelf, and then the top shelf. Not even theold brick of cheddar with the mold on it was safe from the surge ofanxiety and uncertainty I felt at that moment.

I kept my head on, though, and said, "I don't think it's a goodidea."

After we'd said goodbye, I held the phone at arm's length inshock. Wolfie's question lingered in the air, like a smoke signal inan old western portending imminent danger.

I looked around for Tom to ask him how I had gotten to thisplace. He had gone outside, which was lucky for me. With gleefulsarcasm, he would have reminded me that this situation was theresult of one night nearly eighteen years earlier when I had gottenfrisky with my then-husband, Ed. Now I had a sixteen-and-three-quarters-year-old teenager who wanted to sleep with his girlfriend.Then Tom came through the front door whistling his happytune. I was still debating whether to eat or throw up. I filled him inon the news.

"Tell me again—what did Wolfie say exactly?" he asked.

"He said he wanted to sleep at Liv's house," I said.

"Well, that's not exactly saying he wants to sleep with her," hesaid.

"You're talking semantics," I said. "I'm thinking sex."

"You are?" he said, his face unfolding in a giant smile.

"Oh, shut up," I snapped. "What is it with men? I'm in a quandary,and you've somehow turned this around and think you'regoing to get lucky."

"I'm not?" he asked, with a sad face.

"Come on," I said. "Help me think this through."

We sat down at the kitchen table and talked. Tom pointed outthat Wolfie had called home to ask permission. He hadn't sleptover at Liv's house, even though he was halfway across the countryand traveling as part of a rock-and-roll band. Tom suggested I think about how Wolfie's dad had been at that same age, somethingthat made me say a quick prayer of thanks. Wolfie knew right fromwrong, Tom pointed out. If he didn't, he was trying to figure it outand had looked to his mother for advice. He was a good kid. Ergo,what was I worried about?

"Losing him!" I said with an exaggerated whimper.

At the time, I weighed 132.2 pounds, down 40 pounds from whenI had begun a very public diet earlier that spring. I had already surpassedmy original weight loss goal of 30 pounds and at somepoint -- I had failed to note it on my calendar -- I had gone fromlosing weight to being on maintenance.

I had talked about maintenance for months as if it were achange of life. But I had no idea what it was really about. I figuredI would learn once I got there. Then I got there and wonderedwhat it was that I was supposed to be maintaining. My life was influx -- it wasn't a work-in-progress as much as it was simply work.As I would find out, maintenance was exactly that -- more work.

And it was life work, not losing-weight work.

If my weight was a barometer of the rest of my life, I still wasn'twhere I wanted to be. In addition to concern about my weight, Ialso knew that I could be better, kinder, smarter, more disciplined,compassionate, patient, and loving. I wanted to feel like I mattered.I yearned for a lightness of being that couldn't be measured on ascale. I wanted to feel whole, peaceful, and connected to a HigherPower even if just for a few moments.

But real life made that seem impossible. Whether it was Wolfiebeing away from home, Tom's struggles to be a hands-on father tohis children, my career, the house falling apart, or my anger atBush and Cheney for where they had taken the country, I was unable to relax much less get a firm grip. Then Wolfie fell in love andI felt as if part of the floor had given way.

"What about condoms?" Tom mused one day.

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"For Wolfie," he said.

I looked at him, aghast at his insensitivity.

"Not funny."

I liked Wolfie's girlfriend, Liv, who was a friend of Tom's oldestdaughter. Wolfie had met her the previous summer in Arizona, buthe never appeared to take any special interest in her. Nor did shein him. One time he mentioned that she bugged him. I shouldhave taken note.

Then Liv and her family moved to Kansas and we didn't hearabout her. In the meantime, Wolfie went on tour. We talked everycouple of days. He was semi-good about keeping in touch. Hetexted me from Indianapolis and phoned from Chicago and Detroit.He had a story about each city. Then he called from Kansas,where in an unusually excited voice, he said that he had the day offand that he and Matt, the young man who drove his tour bus andwatched out for him, had been invited to eat dinner at Liv's house.

He asked if I remembered Liv. Had I developed Alzheimer's sincehe'd gone out on tour with Van Halen a few months earlier? Ofcourse, I remembered her. He said that Liv's mom had invitedthem to have a home-cooked meal.

"Isn't that nice of them?" he said.

"Yes, it is," I said.

"I'm so excited," he said.

Wolfie was never that effusive unless he saw a new gadget atthe Apple store. All of a sudden I paid more attention. My son hadn't sounded like himself when he had asked, "Is that nice ofthem?" He crossed the line when he said, "I'm so excited." I realizedhe was telling me that there was more to this invitation thandinner. He liked this girl.

It was one of those subtle moments in life when you openyour eyes and discover that the pieces that have provided longtimefamiliarity in a relationship have shifted slightly in one direction oranother. It's like waking up in the morning and remembering thatyou rearranged a couple pieces of furniture in the room. You haveto create new walkways so you don't bump into things.

I'm not someone who likes change. I have had the furniture inmy living room for twenty years. I bought it with Ed early in ourmarriage. I have been meaning to get it recovered for the past fiveyears. It shows you how fast I move. I wasn't ready for my son tohave a girlfriend and everything that meant. Is any mother everready to relinquish her place as first in their child's heart? I wasn't.