Hey, everyone, today's guest is actress and comedian Ellie Kemper from The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Over the last few months, I've been re binge watching the office. We need a word for every binge watching. Is there a word? So even though we just met, it feels like I've known Ellie for years. She's just so good. I'm also excited to welcome back Dr. Alex Karakus, who joins me at the end of the episode to help answer your questions.
Dr. Alex is the clinical director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles, a regular contributor to Psychology Today and the author of multiple books on erotic intelligence in healthy sexuality. You can hear more from Dr. Alex on the Alex Caractacus podcast. And please don't forget, I want to hear from you. Visit unqualified dotcom and send us your questions, your answers and your stories. Now, here's Ellie.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are listening to Unqualified with your host unfairest. Ali, I can't thank you enough for doing this. I can't thank you enough for reaching out. I mean, I'll just say it. I'm your biggest fan, so I'm absolutely delighted and honored to be here, especially during this time, specifically where things are a little grim. It's such a bright spot. Ellie, can I start out with envy? Truly career envy with somebody that I admire.
You are fucking incredible.
You know what? Listen, that is me for you. And for a long time, I've always known that since I first saw you in a movie, which I think it was scary movie. It's like, oh, you can't teach what you do. You just have it. I feel like I have had a lot of cases being in the right place at the right time, which I am forever grateful for. You know, it's like you never know how something is going to work and timing is such a big piece of it.
I was thinking about you, though, and how our careers are kind of parallel. I was thinking about how it irks me. Maybe when people describe me as sort of quirky sometimes, well, I'm forty.
I feel like people mean that in a nice way.
The weird adjective, it's so patronising, right.
I feel like it's almost problematic that it is meant as a compliment because it's like you call a baby adorable. Yeah, right. Right. Yeah. So it's but I would never describe you is that I just thought that that would be a good gateway as to how you and I have maybe been described or like underused.
That's exactly right. I guess it's the desire to put things to categorize, to arrange things to put in. I was about to say put someone in a box. But by that I mean like, oh, you know, well, you don't usually hear men described as adorable, certainly not quirky. I don't know if this has ever happened for you, but we're it affects real life where someone assumes that you're that in my case, like a redheaded clown that you play on television and then you think, oh.
But this is real life now, right? Yeah, and then you think, oh, but that doesn't even define me, you fucking dick.
Can I ask you a series of questions? Yes. OK, are you sure?
I'm sure. Yes, I hope I know the answers. I've been so starved for human interaction. Will see how I do with a conversation.
OK, we'll start out with an easy question. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Oh, you made it very easy for me. Thank you. Yeah, my favorite. It changes, by the way. It changes not monthly, maybe four times a year currently. And for a while we've been holding steady at and Jerry's milk and cookies. Have you had it? No. Oh no.
It was a different from cookies and cream. They have different cookies in it. It's not Oreos and vanilla ice cream. It's all different kinds of cookies and. All right. You know, I feel like it's chocolate chip and an Oreo for someone who claims this is your favorite flavor, I actually don't know enough about it. I don't know the specific varieties of cookies that are in that. That is my favorite. Ice cream flavor at the moment. Ellie, what is Midwestern cynicism like?
Is it well hidden? Is it like buried deep beneath the snow and only emerges like when the first sun appears in March?
I think what you just named is what it is. So I grew up in St. Louis. I love St. Louis. I love the Midwest. When I moved to New York, I realized that really is a very real thing, that people in the Midwest are warm. I'm not saying they're warmer. They're warm, they're friendly. It's interesting because the cynicism I think that, you know, any brief interaction with an acquaintance, I don't think you're going to see that cynicism.
But I think that when you are like called to it, I think it's some of the like, most wry, hutting funny cynicism you might find if that makes any sense, you know, because where did you grow up?
I grew up north of Seattle. OK, but it sounds like I always have to qualify that a little bit because it wasn't Seattle like I grew up truly in the suburbs in a cold, dark, rainy, depressed area. And but geographically, when the sun is out like there's nothing like it. Sure, it's the mountain ranges and it's just curious.
Yeah, but you went straight to New York. You went off the deep end into cynicism.
Yeah, that's exactly right. I mean, in a different way. Yeah. New York. It's like a badge of honor. Right.
It's like nothing will crack this face. Exactly. Nothing you can do to surprise me. And isn't there such a pride taking in that? Right. And I feel like in its own way it's much friendlier because it's direct. So it's like I mean, for better or for worse, there's not a huge amount of time wasted on pleasantries not wasted. That's so judgmental. There's not a lot of time spent on pleasantries or at least it just takes a different form.
But you're so right because you go from this very warm, friendly place to a place like you sit or it's like maybe the definition should be more of like the patterns of communications, like how we do this part first where we like, you know, make everyone feel comfortable and safe. And then I don't know if it ever has taken you aback when, like, a friend has betrayed you.
Hey, so that's my next question. When has a friend betrayed you, you know, are you asking me? Because I kind of am I wasn't on my list, but it seems like an interesting question, but it seems like a very interesting question.
And I really feel like I have not been betrayed. Let me think here. Have I been betrayed by a female friend first? Know.
Yeah, that I know. But that's the thing. There's so much life left to live. Who knows what I'll find out. I know. I know.
I have been very lucky. I don't think I've suffered a lot of betrayal. I'm trying to think of when I have let people down, which is many times.
So the only answer to that question is like, oh yeah. When my high school friend Stephanie fucked my boyfriend the right, there's only one answer.
There's only one answer. If it didn't happen, which I haven't had that happen, then there you go.
I'm from the Midwest. Can I ask you something that's such a fucking West Coast question? Bring it on.
Are you scared of open water, like actual open water? You have hit on something? I am. Oh, no.
Would you go to a beach? Well, truly, the visual of being around, even just knowing that it's there, the ocean makes me feel like, oh, I can escape like somehow even though I don't know how to boat.
No. And the water truly terrifies me. Do you not know how to swim.
I do know how to swim. You could stay afloat. Yeah, I could kind of. Yeah.
You can't count on me to save you. Do you have any of those things. But I bet you're comfortable with lakes.
I am fine with the lake. So in St. Louis is actually the intersection of the Missouri River and the Mississippi River.
So I love that. I don't know. So why it. So I'm embarrassed. Why would you know that?
I only know that because I grew up here, my husband who grew up in San Diego, he wasn't too sure of Missouri geography and embarrass himself in front of my family. But this is years ago. But the thing is that I'm embarrassingly bad with geography and it's not something to even mention because it's sort of unacceptable. But in any case, I do know about the Missouri River, the Mississippi River, because here's where I grew up. I love a muddy river.
I have total ease around a muddy river, which the Mississippi is very muddy.
But in terms of the ocean, I don't of an ocean and I don't know if it's because of the Midwest, but I remember once being with my grandma, who then lived in New Jersey. We were at a Jersey shore. I don't know which one, but I just remember she introduced the concept of the undertow to me and she said, be careful. It can bring you out, it can bring you across. And without you even realizing it.
And she said the ocean is much stronger than you. And I remember thinking, that's impossible.
I mean, like I'm a person.
How can a notion be stronger between sharks, between undertows, between wild waves? I don't love a notion.
I feel you on that. I love it that you love murky water. Yeah. You're like that feels fine.
I'm there. I'm fine. And there's something about it. And of course, it's because it's so mixed up with childhood and field trips to the arch and to the riverboats and all of that. But there is something like when you fly into St. Louis, wherever you're coming from, I mean, maybe I need to write a novel about this. I'm it's just occurring to me now.
But there is such a comfort there with that river. I love the sentiment, though, because I feel the same way. Yeah. We have this ferry boat system in Washington State and just seen a ferry makes me feel comforted by the familiarity. Yeah. And maybe because we moved away from our home towns that we crave those things.
Well, that's right. Right. And being here during this sort of well. Quarantine and then not quarantine then. Yes. Kind of quarantine again, it's a strange sensation to return to where you grew up when you haven't been here in a long time. And it's totally unexpected. It's weird.
I am so impressed that you are doing it. But also maybe it feels incredibly comforting.
It's just a mind warp because you're like, am I an adult? Because it's not like I moved here. Like I have friends who moved back here because they decided to do that because their jobs took them here or they wanted to be your family or whatever it was. Ours was by accident. So it kind of feels like I feel like a teenager again.
It's made me become even more irresponsible. And you even conceive of the future right now?
I can't no, I'm I'm having a real problem doing that, too. That makes me feel better. But the idea of like what are we putting our energy into right now?
I feel like I should get the pillowcases wash today somehow that it's everything like the dishes, the laundry, everything.
What you do normally very quickly now I feel like I'm like it must be perfect because I have control over this one hundred percent. The silver lining of this weird time is that we are able to spend time that we wouldn't necessarily spend time with the people we're with that you're. Taking time on relationships that might not otherwise have seen that time, I guess, but then I feel like it goes for me completely one hundred and eighty degrees where you're like, there is no tomorrow.
Yes, it's one or the other completely. Yeah.
OK, what was your favorite toy as a child. Oh I actually remember this one of the favorites. You remember the skip it. Yes. Yeah. How would you describe it for our three young young listeners.
I was like like almost a jeneen tool for like awesome jumping ideas.
That's exactly right. It would get your legs trained to be able to do the awesome. And you could do it alone. Yes. Yeah, that was key.
So you were a lonely child. Yes, a lonely child. I remember doing in the basement and on the driveway. And the best thing, which I believe is from the theme song, Remember the counter on the Ball?
Yes. The very best thing of all is the counter on the ball. It counted, I believe it was like I mean, it was certainly manual, but it would turn every time you skipped, every time you made one revolution, I guess it would count. And so you would see how high you could get, how many ships in a row you could get without, I guess, tripping.
And I remember being very competitive with myself. You have to bring this back. This is the summer.
You are surprised. Everyone is alone, everyone's alone. Everyone's doing at home fitness. You're not wrong. We could put like a little like soundtrack to it and ship it. Let's keep it. Yeah. Yep, yep. You had a lot of good ideas.
This might be one of the best ones.
Well, did you have a semi solitary childhood? I have three siblings. They were obviously always around, but I had my younger sister Carrie and my best friend Katy Purcell. We were like the threesome. So I didn't have like we were the trio. I guess I use the word trio rather than three threesome.
I felt like at least until junior high it was just us so solitary it wouldn't say necessarily solitary, although now I have to walk that back.
But Ali, at that age, especially like a trio of friends cannot work, was a one party member betraying your sister? Right.
And the added dynamic of one of these girls being my sister, my younger sister, you aren't wrong. There was Katie and I. Katie was my neighbor. We were the same age. So we sort of like allowed Carrie, my sister, into our activities. But I do think there were some times when she's mad at you. Yeah. She can't be allowed. I know. I was mad at my brother. You're the younger. Yeah, it's just my brother and I.
But yeah, it was like, you know, the younger sibling could include me.
And was he. No, he wasn't. He was not nearly as kind as you were was the age difference.
I feel like the age difference plays a part three years. That's hard during our four years. I think four years gives you the distance. You don't feel competitive with each other. Yeah, the sibling thing is so it's fascinating. My husband's an only child. I have three siblings. He's much more easygoing, generous, gracious.
And does he roll like his eyes, like after like a stressful Thanksgiving or whatever, like can he absorb things and be like, oh honey, you're so right. Or is he more like, babe, like it's time to chill out? Like what's his take on things as an only child?
That's interesting. First of all, when you are used to a smaller family and then you're just like thrown into a larger family, I think it's overwhelming, of course, because it's so many people and so many voices. But I think, yeah, he's so calm. He's like used to be the observer.
He's like, right, OK, yes, I see this all these things that maybe he wanted at some point in his life and now he's like, now I have it, but I'm OK being like the boat offshore. Yeah, right.
It's like when you can see the drama from a distance then you're like, oh well this seems so maybe unnecessary when you haven't lived with like a sibling, irritating you from, you know, ages three to twenty on a constant basis.
Why do you still have the emotional investment? Right. I would imagine it would be frustrating to be like, no, no, no, you don't get it. Why is this why this bothered me so much? Because these are threads that have been woven into the theme of our family for decades.
And these are bad stuff.
Crazy because it is immediate when you reunite with your family, the one that you grew up with, you're like immediately transformed, right, aren't you? Yeah, every dynamic. Every thread is completely.
Yeah, I only have my older brother, but we grew up close to our cousins and aunts and. Look, I found myself three days ago getting really angry at my cousin for a memory when I was maybe nine, when she turned a hose on me and just sprayed me out of the blue. But I was like, this is humiliating and I wanted to hate her. Yes. And I was thinking like, oh God, that's like one of the more powerful memories I have for my beautiful cousin that I love.
But those elements, those are like weaved into her. The hundred percent. Yes.
And good luck trying to change that because it is there. Yeah. I started doing some meditation apps. And by the way, the cheesier the better for me. I don't even want to like disgraced the world of meditation with what I'm doing. I'm doing like cheesy mainstream, like breathe in, say you are vast, breathe out, say you are flexible. I don't know whatever the things are. And I realized you're one of them.
I was like I literally was like, I don't watch.
Yeah. Because I, I know I getting mad about stuff.
I was like me getting worked up about stuff.
I was like that's part of who I am. I'm not going to change that. And I was like a realization I had where I thought I would relive that incident over and over again.
And I do. And I'm like and I get mad all over again. And that's just how I'm wired.
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Dotcom promo code A. OK, what was your first boss like response was I think her name was Jack. I think it was short for Jacqueline because I remember see, that's what's coming to me. She was my boss at the Crumbs Bake Shop in New York, and I had summer jobs in St. Louis before that. But this is the first boss I really remember. And she was great. She was firm, but fair. And I had an early morning shift and Crum's sold cupcakes and other pastries.
And I remember that for an actress who's supposed to be able to memorize lines, I had a lot of trouble remembering the ingredients in these cupcakes. But there were so many different ingredients, like in such different iterations that it was like I couldn't keep them straight.
Do people ask you on a regular basis like, hi, I want the chocolate cream, but can you tell me what's in it? That's what it was. And then you had to say, like, well, there's a flower, there's butter and we put in cocoa powder and my God, excuse me.
It was on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. So, you know, those ladies wanted that information, but they didn't really fucking want it.
They didn't want it.
They wanted to make trouble totally.
Like you are in a cupcake store, like enjoy yourself. They were so mad to be there. I don't know if they were mad because they had given into their craving and we're getting a cupcake or whatever it was. But they were unpleasant.
I wish you had lied. I wish you had just told those ladies, just like, you know what this is like. First of all, it's gluten free. Sugar free. It's remarkable how I've lost weight with these cupcakes and I work here.
And you know what? I feel like I would have been doing them a favor. That's all they wanted to hear.
If they felt they were making the smart, healthy choice, then I give them this delicious cake and they're none the wiser. So you're welcome to the Upper East Side, ladies. Yeah, but anyway, Jack would drill me on these every morning, and it wasn't, like, demeaning. It was just she wanted me to get them right.
And I, I had a real block, a cupcake block, Baker's block, they call it.
But anyway. But she was great. And then one day this was like when I first moved to New York. So I was taking improv classes. I was doing stuff at Upright Citizens Brigade. I was doing that stuff. And I remember that there was a class I really wanted to take, but it was at like 2:00 in the afternoon or something. It conflicted with my work schedule and I quit the job to take this class and I gave, like, no notice.
And Jack was can't just quit today and not come in. And I said, I guess I can do it for two more weeks, but I'll miss my class. And she was very understanding. Oh, that's nice. It was really nice when she said she said, I know that's why you came to New York. So, like, best of luck, whatever it was. But I did leave her in a pretty bad spot because you don't have someone to fill that shift.
But she was very gracious about it. It sounds like she was fair. She was great.
Yeah. Then it was my first real I think, again, it sounds so to me like a little bit immature, but it was really like I felt like I'm in New York. I'm trying to work this job so I can support a dream, you know, that sort of thing.
But it felt like a real, you know, an adult responsibility. And probably quitting to take a class wasn't the adult choice, but it was nice that she was understanding.
I guess it was clearly all those things are building blocks. That's right. All right. What is the best or worst advice you've ever been given? I think that the best and I don't do this ever, but the best advice that I wanted follow more is I get this is from an agent, but I thought it was smart. Maybe this is the best career advice. No, it leaks over into real life. It was an agent who didn't want to work with me, but he was like, however, you need to bet on yourself.
And I thought, he's so right, because if you don't. Bet on yourself. People see right through you, you have to have confidence in what you're doing. This was 15 years ago. Maybe that's hard to follow because I often don't trust my gut like your gut is usually right.
I don't always trust it, but I do think you have a strong reaction to something for a reason. Yeah, my grandpa, who has since passed away, surprisingly, he was not in the entertainment industry, but he said, like when I moved to Los Angeles and started doing the pilot circuit and everything, and I was explaining the difference between a manager and an agent and lawyer and whatever it is. And he said and he pronounced your name Jolly, but he said, well, you know, Angelina Jolie just has a lawyer.
His point, I guess, was, why do you need anyone helping you?
You are just as stunning and as talented and you have the resume to show. Yeah, I love that there was some wisdom in that.
Again, I didn't have the heart to say it's Jolie, but I think the idea there is you can do more than you think you can completely.
Ellie, I want to do a camp movie with you. Yes. You would be an awesome camp counselor.
I don't know that I would. I think I might get impatient. I am good at playing certain things, but there might be a time where I feel like I'd say, OK, guys, that's enough. Now just stop. It's the discipline thing. When my patience is wearing thin, I'm on to the next. We got to explore this summer camp movie.
Yes. Yeah. Let's do a fucking camp, please. OK, what's your favorite rainy day movie? Something that I'll always stop for is a league of their own, just take it away, a league of their own. One, is that the perfect movie? Thank you. Yes.
I mean, is there a better movie than a league of their own? There's no movie like that. I know.
You know, I think the tragedy is that Geena Davis, like, decided to go back and be with her war torn husband, raise children.
What the fuck? I know. Get out of there.
She was, you know, could have started so much. I know. Turns out she did.
And she's amazing. And she loves this podcast.
Oh, there you are. No, no, no, no.
But she had tweeted about and I was like, oh, lega, their own room. Actually, that is something someone should do a remake of. Correct. Is that like me?
If we're in it, I have to learn how to play, you know, play baseball. That's the only thing I remember.
All the training balls seem so hard.
I take your bag, don't do a remake. It's going to be not so much running on dirt. The dirt sliding into third. Yeah.
Ellie, what's a trait you dislike in others? Oh, in others. I thought it was going to be about me and will be ready to go.
Good. In other words, OK, this might be controversial, I like it when people follow the rules and in that I like it when people are oh, I like it when people are polite. Now, I don't know that maybe we need to dig deeper because not everyone needs to be polite. But I think that manners are important. Like I feel like as a society, we have to have certain standards and like rules of conduct in place in order.
To function in any civilized way, and so when people disregard little things like, you know, not standing in line to things such as not saying thanks, yeah, I don't like that. I think that that is a tad reprehensible. So that's what I just like in others, a disregard for manners. I love that. And what is a trait you dislike in yourself?
I'm very impatient. That can work for you if you want to get something done. But it also works against you with like close friends and family when you're impatient and like I have a short fuse, I'll go from not being mad to being very mad in three seconds. I try to, like, get better at that, but I will never be known as a calm person. I've accepted that I'm too impatient.
Do you have anything like that or are you pretty steady? I think that when my anger rises, it feels of course, like anybody's anger. Very justified and very all consuming. Correct. Of my body. Yes.
Like if you're zero to 10, let's say in terms of mood level zero being, let's say, the angriest and most miserable, I hover around a seven if 10 is your happiness.
So then if I fall into like a two, it can be dramatic and jarring, right? Sometimes. Yeah. As someone who gets angry, I would say just playing a little bit of anger can also be effective, not even that you're intentionally doing it. But like if someone sees you get angry, OK, that person's angry. I better, you know, get my act together. Right. And I'm thinking of several different people in my life when they do get angry, my responses.
Oh, they're serious. Oh, they mean business. No, I tell you to again, during quarantine when we're like, you know, with a lot of the same people, a lot of the time I've gotten really good at being, like, not actually yelling, just saying. Now it sounds like my meditation apps informing me, but just saying, like, I am livid right now and just saying that is effective. It's helpful for the situation.
I really need to adopt that because that way I feel like you're all trying to help the situation.
So it's like just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm livid. So where is everyone else at or whatever it is? Look, I don't know. It to me feels like whatever the issue is, you're one step closer to resolving it. But also you are in a way, letting off steam.
I don't know. We should buy a few things like garage sale or just some China from IKEA that on occasion we can throw.
Just smash. Just smash. I think that's helpful. It could be kind of right. If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
There is a really beautiful section of France. I have relatives who live there and it's in Normandy. I don't know about the winter. I've never been there in the winter. Might get a little like actually visually dark. But in the summer it is the most gorgeous place on the planet. It's so serene, calming, beautiful, just stunning. And the food. Everything is so natural, completely. OK, so what have you taken the time to learn about?
It doesn't have to be like because I have as I ask these questions, I tell my guests that I haven't answered them a lot for myself. But with this one, I think a lot about like I wish that my vocabulary was stronger.
Yeah, I feel like my brain has gotten foggier as I get older and I don't know why. And I need to sharpen it because I'm just I'm so scared of becoming senile. But in terms of like building vocabulary and something like that, like. Yes, correct. To label you're trying to describe the emotions you're feeling, whatever that is, having a better vocabulary in that sense. But also I feel like I have not taken the time to learn about so many issues confronting our country both now and, you know, in the past hundred years where it's like it's so easy to get so wrapped up in your own day to day and your own work and your own family and your own friends and all of it that especially.
It's like, where do we begin with everything that's happening over the past few months, but so much that I just didn't know I'm so with you. Yeah, I just thought of a new one that maybe you and I could learn together someday. Tell me, OK, how to forage in the forest. Yes. And like, how do we make metals do, especially with our camp movie. We're going to need to know this thing.
Yeah. During lunch in between takes whatever it is, we are going to master that craft. Yeah. Slugs are poisonous. Yeah. Yeah.
Ellie, another difficult question in one word, how would you like to be remembered. That's so hard, I think I would like to be remembered as kind. I know that I'm not always kind, but I think that's the most. Value, I love them. That would be the best word, and do you have a favorite joke?
Can I be honest with you? Yeah, I like it when people fall down, so long as you're not hurt. I like farts. I think they're funny. I just do everyone farts. I think it's funny. I like really sort of base. I like physical things. To me, there's nothing funnier than seeing someone's umbrella get turned inside out in the rain, in the rain.
And it's so funny because it is really funny. It's so funny.
It is how that person reacts to it. Do they play it off today? Except it, it's like, oh, two days ago I was going for a run and I fell and it was a slow, slow fall, you know, and I kept trying to catch myself and I was so of course that embarrassment takes over. Like, who saw me do this? I fell while jogging.
Oh no, that is so embarrassing. But also wasn't hurt. It's so funny. Like everyone is so vulnerable in that moment. Oh, completely unending.
But I think it's that it's like seeing that happen to me or to someone that it will always make me laugh.
I love that though. Yeah. It's so funny. We're in the world of comedy and if we can't, like, learn to laugh at ourselves.
Yes. Yes. Ellie, I can't thank you enough. Thank you so much for having me. Because as I said, I'm such a fan. And also it was so nice to talk to you. I feel the same way.
Thank you for doing this and thank you for spending the afternoon with me. Right back to you. Bye bye.
Hey, dear listeners, I'm excited to welcome back Dr. Alex Karakus, to help answer your questions, to learn more about Dr. Alex and what she does. You can go to our website at Alex Karakus Dotcom.
That's AOL E X, Katie H, A.I.s Dotcom. At the end of her call, I'll also share a few other resources and information that I hope you find helpful. Hi, Dr. Alex, thanks so much for joining us. I wanna thank you for having me. OK, we're going to call Jennifer. Hi. Hi, Jennifer. Hi, how are you? Good. I am here with Dr. Alex Caractacus. She is a true professional and knows what she's talking about.
Hi, Jennifer. So, Jennifer, please tell us what's going on.
So, yeah, of course. So last year, my husband had an affair with well, I'll probably be safe to say with a friend. She was. I guess there are waiting, too. And it's just been it's just completely destroyed me. It really has. I'm just finding it so difficult to move on. And we have two children. And I recently found out that she is also pregnant as well. And I think what it is that I'm struggling with is why am I finding it so difficult to get over when you know.
These things have happened, it's just the system of the more that happens to me, the worse I find it to deal with.
I am so sorry, Jennifer. Thank you.
So, Jennifer, how long ago did you discover the affair? It was last April, just barely a year, right? Yes, that's right. Yes. And this woman was a, quote, friend.
Yes. I mean, she wasn't a particularly close friend, but we were acquainted enough that, you know, we were friendly with each other. We had conversations we would sometimes keep in touch. And as you say, you know, friendly enough that she was actually invited to our wedding. She was there to help celebrate with us.
Right. So this is a double betrayal. This is really, really, you know, extremely painful. And what you're experiencing is what we call betrayal. Trauma. And, you know, women that are blindsided like this often experience a lot of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms like an inability to sleep, images running through their head constantly weight gain, feeling sick to your stomach, you know, diarrhea, inability to eat. I mean, all of the symptoms of an acute stress disorder or PTSD.
So have you had any of those symptoms in the last year? Everything.
Yes, everything. You. Yes. Yeah.
And so that's because the attachment system in our brain and in our bodies is really robust when we fall in love with someone, when you have children with someone and you trust them implicitly. Our brains actually grow neurons that create networks where we recognize that person as our person. And when there's a betrayal like this, it feels like a physical loss, like somebody just sawed off your right arm. And the level of pain is physical and visceral and real. So I really want to validate the pain that you're going through and that it's not, you know, just in your head.
It's in your body and in your head.
Jennifer, I can't even imagine what you're going through. And, you know, then to be blindsided by another woman just adds insult to injury. And now is this baby his baby?
Yes. I think what else makes it difficult is at the beginning of this year, he actually left her and asked me to take him back. And I said, no good for you, but it was difficult and it wasn't actually what I wanted. Right. I think I was possibly hoping that we may have been able to sort of work out. I've been with my husband for 11 years. You know, I don't know anything else. So I said no.
He went back to her.
Right. So he seems like he's quite lost. And I said, good for you. And you said no, because no should have some contingencies to it. No, you can't come back unless X, Y and Z happens. And this is where it gets challenging to hold and set boundaries, to say to him, you need to get help. You need to see a therapist. We need to have boundaries around you. Talking to this woman ever again.
You get to set the conditions under which he comes back and then you really have to watch what he does, not what he says. But it seems to me that he clearly has a problem.
Dr. Alex. Yeah. Is it relevant how Jennifer found out?
Sure, of course. Do you want to tell us that, Jennifer, how did you find out about the affair?
Basically, I found it through social media. So my husband was diagnosed with depression a few months before I found out about the affair. And he lost somebody very, very close and his family. And I think it was that that sort of set off this turmoil of the bank so much. We were waiting. I don't drink alcohol. And he goes, so he was quite drunk or intoxicated. And while we were sitting at the dining table, he was massaging her.
No, I didn't think anything of it because we know who she is and she's a friend. So I genuinely didn't really think much of it at the time. However, he made a comment to me when I had noticed, and he just seemed or he seemed a bit guilty because I know I know that it's guilt that he was feeling. And then when we got home that night, it's something I've never done. But I looked at his phone, which is not something I'm particularly proud of, because it's not something that I would normally have done.
But I just felt this overwhelming sense of there's something not right here. And I found messages through social media which confirmed that. And and he apologized and said he was sorry. He was adamant there was nothing to it. We were just being silly and whatnot. And then about a month later, he told me that he was going to his friend's house and he has literally never returned. I actually ended our marriage over a text message. There's there's not even been a conversation about anything, really.
Dr. Alex, what does it mean when somebody wants to be found out? I mean, this just sounds so incredibly reckless on his part. Let me ask you this. Do you think he has a drinking problem?
No, I don't know. OK, he does drink, but only recreationally. But he doesn't drink all the time.
OK, so he's not an active alcoholic because that would add some complexity to this. No. Right. But he is using sex to get some kind of validation. And he was going outside of the relationship for that validation. And you have no way of knowing if it's just this one affair or if he's involved with other women. She's constantly seeking that, then he really has a very serious problem. Sounds incredibly painful that someone would end a 12 year relationship over a text message and clearly that he's feeling some remorse, that he tried to get back together with you.
But I still think it was wise that you set that boundary and said, no, I also want to respect that you love him and that you're loyal and you've been with him all this time and he has a problem and he needs to get help because he's sick. So if he's willing to get help and really willing to look at and understand why he's done what he's done and make changes, then you actually could have a marriage with him. But those are big contingencies to set.
And, you know, he's clearly in pain himself. So what is it that you want to do now?
I think I know this there is absolutely no future for us. I have started divorce proceedings. But I think what I'm struggling with is just the fact that I didn't want any of this at all and I longed for the life that I had. I also confuse and I frustrate myself because I know I deserve better. I know that he is no good for me. You know, it's not right for me to be with somebody like that. I don't know why.
I just seem to want to cling on almost to this life that I had. And I just want to try any step I possibly can to, you know, have my own recovery. I do, unfortunately, think that this whole pandemic can go on. It's not helped because I haven't been able to distract myself. I've not been able to get out to see people. So I'm hoping that know that things are starting to ease off, that I can, you know, find some sort of way that I can cope better, but I just don't really know how to start.
Dr. Alex, when you are the faithful party member in a relationship, how do you not absorb the idea that somehow you're not good enough?
Right. I mean, it's such a large issue, but it's an important thing to recognize, right?
Yeah, it's extremely challenging because I work with betrayal, trauma all day long with people. And women really feel like they've been hit by a train with this sort of thing. And that's why I think you're right. Jennifer, you need a community of other women who have gone through this. You know, it's really important. Your head sounds like it's still reeling from this. And I want to answer both of these questions. You're clinging to the past because you had a life that you loved, you had a husband you loved, you have children that you love.
And what was your reality was not really your reality. There was something else going on that you just didn't know about. And so the blind side of that is, again, like being hit by a train. And so you're disoriented. And instead of facing the present, which is filled with pain and grief and loss, it's natural for us to be in sort of fantasy or recall about a past that seemed idyllic and parts of that were real and parts of it weren't real.
So it's important that you not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but that you be in reality about who this guy is. And turning and facing the future is really what's required of you to grow and change. And your courage is what you need right now to do that and not clinging to the past. So divorce proceedings is a powerful move forward, even though it hurts like hell. Yeah. And then, you know, to Ana's point, for you to affirm yourself that you are beautiful and smart and capable and his bad behavior has nothing to do with you.
You didn't do anything wrong. You didn't ask for this. You didn't treat him poorly. I mean, we have incidences. We see it all the time in the news and tabloids where beautiful celebrities are cheated on all day long. And it's like, OK, if you're going to cheat on that woman, then you're going to cheat on anybody. So you can not do double damage by throwing yourself under the bus like that. And it takes work.
It takes a lot of vigilance to state affirmations, surround yourself by people who love you, that affirm you, and not to start digging through the past or trying to figure out what's going on with him so that you can remain mentally healthy for yourself and for your children.
Yes, I. I totally agree. I understand. Oh, Jennifer, I'm so sorry, though.
Do you have supportive friends and family?
I have had the most unbelievable support I could ever have wished for. Everybody has been incredible. You really have. But I also struggle with myself. Sometimes I worry that this literally consumes me. I talk about it all the time and it's just fear that I am starting to really annoy people because I'm needing that help. I just feel that unfortunately, whenever I seem to be getting to a point where I'm almost feeling a lot better and I'm starting to focus on the future and, you know, thinking about what I want and then something else happens.
I mean, my husband told me that it should have always been hard and that he regrets marrying me.
Oh, dear. So sorry. That sounds unbelievably cruel, is cruel.
I'm sorry to I wouldn't be too overly concerned that anyone in your life that loves and cares about you is tired of hearing of your pain at all.
Yeah, I think I know that deep down, it's just difficult. And in the news of the baby coming to that, just as complete other Lemelson. So I'm just I'm trying my best to figure it all out, but I'm just really struggling with all.
I just want to go back to that Hanus statement he made to you, that cruel statement that it should have always been her. That's his shame and he's blowing his shame through you. It's really important that you understand that, that he feels an enormous amount of shame about what he's done. And so instead of owning it, he denigrates you with it. And there's a gross amount of gaslighting to that. Or he's turning the tables on you so that you think, oh, my God, it's me.
And so you cannot take that kind of cruelty from him. He shattered your heart and he's not qualified or capable to take care of it. You have to do that. And I appreciate how kind you are and how much you're considering that while this baby, you know, it's not this baby's fault that this baby is going to be a half sibling to your children and you're going to have to deal with that down the road.
Yeah, I think it's hard to not absorb those feelings of, like, God, am I crazy and my insecure and my jealous. Am I not worthy of being married to like it has nothing to do with you, Jennifer, that this is his own fucked up journey and look at the way he's leaving behind him now.
He's got three children that don't have a father and two women who he's emotionally destroyed. And this guy is going to leave a lot of destruction in his wake until he hits a bottom and gets help. Yeah. So all you can do is look forward and get the support that you need. So I really hope that we can give you resources for online support groups, for partners of betrayal, trauma. There are books that you can read workbook so you can do some writing and start to really shore yourself up because you're right, your friends and family.
I've had this experience myself years ago where my best friend actually said to me, you know what, I think we're at the point now where you need professional help because I can't help you anymore so you can cry on your shoulder of your friends and family. But at some point you want to be with other women that are going through the same thing because they're going to have a lot more space and a lot more understanding and good advice. And you walk through it together.
You're not alone doing it.
I'm so thankful that you are able to share this with us. I think it's just incredibly courageous. And I know that your story, Jennifer, will be incredibly helpful to a lot of people out there for you to be so open and honest about this, this trauma. It's really amazing and a gift that you're giving a lot of people.
Yeah, I mean, we have studies that show that women who suffer betrayal, trauma often isolate. They don't talk about it, which is the worst thing in the world you can do. So I would encourage you to keep telling your story because it's important for your own healing from this trauma. And as you do it, you know, you are helping other women also.
Yeah, every time I talk about this, like I hear myself when I see it, I hear how he is with me. And I cannot believe I even got any. I felt sadness towards him. But it's just not the way I'm built. I'm just not built to be cool.
Or, you know, my ex used to say to me, but you know me, you know me better than anyone. Like, I don't know what I'd do without you. You know me after doing something incredibly painful to me. And I mean, at first it was like, I guess, OK, you know, but after a while, I started to recognize how manipulative that was. But right now, God, it's really raw. And I think it will always be a painful scar.
But like scars, I think that take comfort, Jennifer, that the pain will become much more dull. And you have two beautiful children and a loving family and friends and you're an amazing person. And I can't thank you enough for sharing your story.
Thank you. And thank you both. Also, I honestly cannot tell you how grateful I am. This is incredible. Thank you.
And take good care of yourself, Jennifer. Thank you. Bye, Jennifer. Dr. Alex, thank you so much for doing this today.
Your advice is invaluable and sure is humbling as well, but in the best of ways. And I. I would love it if you joined us again. You're welcome and I really appreciate what you're doing. I think this is enormously helpful, as you said, to a lot of different women. And so these conversations, I think, are super important and need to be had over and over again. So thank you. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.
All right. Really appreciate it. I've learned a lot. So much, too. OK, bye bye. Bye bye. Hey, everyone, before we go, I wanted to share some information in a few resources from Dr. Alex, the best place to start might be with Dr. Alex's book, Mirror of Intimacy Daily Reflections on Emotional and Erotic Intelligence. She also recommends conscious uncoupling five steps to Living Happily Even After by Catherine Woodward Thomas and Moving Beyond Betrayal, The Five Step Boundry Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts by Vicky Tidwell Palmer.
You can also look for the Center for Healthy Sex on YouTube, where you will find experts talking about betrayal, trauma. I know these issues can be hard to talk about, let alone deal with, and I hope you find these resources helpful. We will include links to everything on the unqualified Web site. Thank you, dear listeners. Talk to you next week.