Gwyneth Paltrow, goddess of wellness, sultan of second acts, leading light of smoking one cigarette a week, is also a divorce sage. Paltrow probably didn’t mean to become a divorce sage, but when she announced she and Chris Martin, her ex-husband and the father of her two children, were “consciously uncoupling” on her wellness blog, Goop, in 2014, her personal journey to extricate herself from a marriage became a cultural force. She was then, as she is now, a guiding light of divorce.
And so when she was on fellow divorcée Anna Faris’s podcast, Anna Faris Is Unqualified, on Monday, it came up. “I never wanted to get divorced,” she told Faris. “I never wanted to not be married to the father of my kids, theoretically. But I have learned more about myself through that process than I could have imagined.
“And because I focused on accountability, I was then able to find the most amazing man and build something that I’ve never had before with Brad [Falchuk], my husband,” she added. Go through the hard thing, do the work, and come out on the other side with Ryan Murphy’s number one guy, a producer of Glee as well as American Horror Story.
But what is the work? What is accountability in the world of Paltrow? Is it mixing this powder with that powder and suddenly glowing from within, a glow that signals to one’s next partner that it’s time to get together? No, it’s more “radical” than that even. “You have to know that every relationship is 50/50. No matter what you think, how you think you were wronged, or how bad you perceive the other persons actions, or whatever the case may be.
“If you are brave enough to take responsibility for your half and really look at your own garbage and your own trauma and how it’s presenting in the world and in your relationship, then there really is somewhere to go and something to learn and something to heal,” Paltrow continued. “We are all part good and part bad; it’s not binary. We are all gray area. We all are trying our best. I really wanted my kids to not be traumatized if it were possible.”
Speaking of garbage that you carry with you and also gray areas, Paltrow recalled her mixed feelings about being nominated and winning an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. “I remember I was staying with my parents at their house in Santa Monica, and I just kind of hid for three weeks afterward,” she said. “It was so intense. Lonely is the right word. It was really strange.”
Paltrow went on to describe her own imposter syndrome. “It was the weirdest, most surreal time. You’re also kind of embarrassed that you’re nominated for an Oscar, and you have imposter syndrome, and you think, I can’t even believe this is happening. I’m not even that good. Does everybody hate me?” she said
“I was kind of like, Well, of course I’m not going to win, but it’s kind of cool too,” she added.
Reader, she won. And her desire to do a midlife career change was perhaps precipitated by that win, as she’s since spoken often and extensively about how she detoxed from the acting bug. During a radio interview in December, she mentioned how after winning that Oscar at the ripe old age of 26, she knew she wanted to eventually move on to other things. She didn’t “love acting that much, as it turns out.”
“I sort of felt like, well, now who am I supposed to be?” she said. “Like, what am I? What am I driving towards?” She attributed the burnout to the “intense public scrutiny” that came with the job. One could say commanding a large following through one’s wellness platform comes with its own form of scrutiny, but perhaps being the architect of your own cultural schisms has its benefits.
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