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Isabel Gillies was a guest on The Gayle King Show on August 3, 2011 to promote her new book, A Year and Six Seconds, on OWN

Gayle King: You may recognize my next guest as a dependable housewife of Elliot Stabler of Law & Order: SVU- that’s Christopher Meloni and Isabel Gillies. But in real life, she got married, had two babies, as it turns out, she got divorced and then the good news is she got remarried to someone else. She’s captured the journey in a captivating memoir, “A Year and Six Seconds”. And she’s here to tell us all about it. Welcome Isabel Gillies, can I just say I love the cover picture of you.

Isabel Gillies: Oh, thank you

GK: I love the shot of you, it’s so, I mean the smile on your face is so enchanting. I really really love it. Because it says to me ‘she looks really happy’. Are you as happy as you look?

IG: Yeah, yeah, yeah

GK: Pretty much!

IG: I mean, we were just talking, well they’re not going to know what we were talking about, but I’m so happy, but that’s life…

GK: Let’s give your backstory: here’s Isabel, she was married with two beautiful kids, you’re living in Ohio, and then your husband comes in and says the things that no woman wants to hear. You find out he’s a cheater cheater pumpkin eater. One thing leads to another and your divorcing and you end up moving back to New York in with your parents- yikes- and you write very moving to me because your parents, while they love you and love their grandchildren, you sense that there’s a part of them that are kinda like ‘how long are you going to be here?’ You talk about this beautiful living room that at one point a section of it looked like romper room.

IG: It did. Well, that’s the thing you’re a parent until you’re dead. That’s sort of the deal. I have children and you always want to help your children get back up on their feet and be there for them. However, they had their life, they had their second, third careers starting, they had their quiet mornings and then crashing in with two toddlers. It wasn’t fair.

GK: Isabel, you write too movingly because you were really trying to put your life back together. There’s something very nice when you said ‘I like putting my eggs in the wife basket and I like being a wife’. I’m divorced, as you know, and after I got married I loved saying “My husband…”

IG: Yeah, I loved that

GK: …so I liked the wife basket too. So when I heard that you said that, I thought ‘yeah I understand what that means’ and now you’re trying to navigate that you no longer have that title of ‘wife’?

IG: Yeah, there’s a very specific role that you have as a wife and you know what that is. Then not being that, not having that title, suddenly you go ‘oh, I’m a single mother’. And then you go ‘no! I’m a single mother!’ and it’s okay, you get behind that, sorta, and then you learn that you are fine. Although it’s hard being a single mother.

GK: You said there was a stage with your boys when you said ‘Nobody wanted us and we needed everybody’. Talk about that. When I read that, I went ‘ahhhh’

IG: Well you know, you grow up, and then you’re supposed to get married, your wings go out, and fly away and then you have your own life, your own refrigerator, and your schedules, and your lists, and then to have it taken away, it’s very rug getting pulled from under you. You’re in need and that’s a weird place to be in because it’s shameful to say ‘I need, I need you’.

GK: Why is it so hard to say ‘I need’?

IG: I don’t know and I think that ‘you want’. I wanted to be able to have a strong life and I want to be there for my children and really I was needy, I needed help.

GK: Here you are, on the Upper West Side, back with your mom and dad, still trying to navigate the divorce, still trying to navigate the kids, get the kids situated in school. Did you think you would have true love again? Did you think that?

IG: Well, I hoped I would but I didn’t know and my father used to say- it was usually about college or something- statistically there’s too many people in the world for you not to get into a college or not. He would use math, and well, I’ll be like ‘there’s a whole lots of people out there’ so I think there’s statistical chance that I would find deep real love I just thought maybe…

GK: You thought maybe it would allude me but you were also to because you can’t really move forward until you’re truly ready because for a long time you seemingly were still hoping you would get back together

IG: Oh yes

GK: I remember Taylor Dain has a song called ‘Love Will Bring You Back’ (sings) I can remember sitting in the living room all by myself playing this song, saying to myself ‘this is just ridiculous’. So at some point you were still holding on to maybe we can get back together.

IG: Oh yeah, I was determined

GK: I want to get back together

IG: It was my responsibility because I had children together a) I wanted to and b) I thought it was just something I needed to do, I had to do, but when someone doesn’t want to be with you then that’s that. And then there was defining moment- he said it, it’s his credit.

GK: What was the defining moment?

IG: Well, first of all, he never ever led me on about getting back together or anything, he said ‘nope, that was it’. So that was very good.

GK: He was clear but you weren’t accepting it, but go ahead, your defining moment.

IG: I felt I would be abandoning the children to not want to be back with him.

GK: Children throw us off and I always think that when you have children you should do whatever you can to stay in the marriage, whatever sort of abuse. And then you reach the point of where you go even with the children this isn’t a good situation. What was your defining moment?

IG: Well it was a betrayal, because what they want is mom and dad together rand they really do. But there’s other ways to be together you learn than being married because if you don’t have a choice, you find a way to be together for them that’s happy and smooth and actually sometimes its better

GK: What was your defining moment though?

IG: A friend of mine said ‘Why would you do that?’ and I’m like ‘What you mean? He’s my husband!’

GK: She said ‘would you go back with him?’ and you said ‘yes’ and your friend said ‘why would you want to go back to someone who hurt you badly?’ I thought that was such a great thing.

IG: …and remember there’s a lot of pain and all that stuff but then it was so daring, brave when she said ‘wouldn’t it be more fun to do something else?’ and I thought about that moment in ‘Titanic’ where Kate Winslet is dying and he’s dying, literally going down in the cold water and she thought ‘maybe I’ll go die too, go with him, he’s my true love’ and then she went, you know, she started to swim to the other dead, a policeman or something, blowing the whistle and I thought ‘I’m going to blow the whistle and get my life back.’

GK: That was a good defining moment. The title of your book, Six Seconds, because when you said ‘You can fall in love- true love- in 6 seconds’. I went 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, if you can fall in love

IG: It’s science

GK: But you are now in love, you met somebody else and you would say that true love, love at first sight is possible.

IG: Yes, oh yeah, and I fell in love before in 6 seconds. It’s scientific. It’s from back in Serengeti or whatever, when the lion had to see their gal and get them and have babies.

GK: What I like about your store is that you go through heartbreak, you get through pain, and you come out to the other side as we all do if there’s one message you can take from this because divorce can be so painful, there really is good on the other side, and yours is in the form of Peter!

IG: Peter! But the trauma becomes part of you but it doesn’t define you, so you can move on and you know, turn on your light, sort of.

GK: Even after you got together with Peter, there were still some bumps.

IG: So love doesn’t mean that you’re fixed. It doesn’t solve it. It’s not like ‘oh I got a divorce and it was really bad but then I met Peter and everything was great! Yeah!’ and keep going. You can fall in love and I felt big time love and we have this happy life. He had a kid and I had two kids and they are boom-boom-boom, but then I still had work to do on myself because you’ll be all happy and suddenly you get in a fight and it’s the same fight you had…

GK: I know, it comes back

IG: It does, and it’s the same fight you had with the other husband, but then they’re totally different and you’re like ‘uh oh’.

GK: History has a way of repeating yourself. Before you go, let’s talk about Law & Order because Christopher Meloni is leaving…

IG: I know, 12 years

GK: …and I assume you playing the wife, you are leaving too.

IG: I assume so, although I haven’t been officially told

GK: It’s kind of interesting because you were getting divorce in real life and on the show at one point and you didn’t have to act out at that part. I thought ‘okay’. Now that he’s leaving, how do you feel about that?

IG: Well you know, I love writing, I really do

GK: You do it well

IG: Thank you. I love doing it every day and you don’t get to act everyday. I love acting but I LOVE writing. And so if that drifts away, it’s okay because here comes something else.

GK: Isabel, it’s always going to be okay. “A Year and Six Seconds”, I highly highly highly recommend it if you been though divorce, you’re going through with divorce, how you can get through that and really come out the other side okay. Because wouldn’t it be exciting to try something else? The answer is ‘yeah, it would!’ Thank you Isabel, thank you

IG: Thank you so much.

Transcribed by Jeannette