If you've ever read her blog "Something About Stacy," you know that Redbook magazine editor in chief Stacy Morrison likes to open up to her readers -- whether it's over her addiction to perilously high heels ("four-inch minimum, every single day"), her fear of other bloggers ("They are all...oh, I don't know, much MORE than I am!"), or a "big Christmas whoopsie" involving a fully trimmed tree, a terrible tumble, and shards of sparkly glass all over her floor.

But her new memoir, "Falling Apart in One Piece" (just out in bookstores), is a true confessional in every sense: Subtitled "One optimist's journey through the hell of divorce," the book begins just as Morrison's marriage begins to end. One minute she's swishing arugula through the salad spinner, and the next she's hearing her husband say, simply, that he's done.

"'I'm done with this,' he said, gesturing with his hand to encompass our living room, our kitchen, our home, our son, our future, our dreams, every single memory we'd ever made together in our thirteen years as a couple, and me, suddenly meaningless me," she writes. (You can read an excerpt here.)

At the time, she was interviewing for the Redbook gig. Their son, Zack, was just a baby. Her beloved, just-bought Brooklyn home began springing leaks and flooding to almost Biblical proportions. And then there was the beach-house fire...the emergency-room visits... "Had someone sent me a short story with a heroine living the events that were unfolding in my life," Morrison says in her book," I would have rejected it for being facile and unbelievable."

You'd think after all that she'd be just a bit bitter. Or caustic. Or even defensively self-deprecating. But no -- Morrison wears her optimist label with pride. "Life is everything all at once. Life is joys and challenges. Life is hair-raising and stressful," she tells us. "What I'm hoping people will get out of the book is that every day life is meant to be good."

We'll have what she's having! Now, learn what keeps her this way.




While you were writing, did you feel like you were reliving everything all over again?
Unfortunately, yes. I had gone into writing the book feeling so good about where I had ended up that I thought I would be protected. Because I am really proud about my divorce and I am really proud of who I am. It was a bit brutal. And unfortunately -- and fortunately -- at the same time I was writing the book I was falling in love, and that was exquisitely hard to allow and make room for. There were days that I felt I couldn't write the book or continue the relationship. I tried to quit both.

Did you tell your boyfriend about it?
It's not the thing you keep for the fifth date. "By the way..." I think it took him many months to understand what the point was.

Why did you feel like you wanted to tell your story?
I really wanted to change how people talk about divorce. I was quite shocked to find that people wanted to help me bury my marriage. I thought, why on earth would people want to do that? I realized it's about people trying to protect themselves. I thought that by being totally naked, and including it all, that I would be better able to make my claim that we're not doing it right. This is what it really looked like. This is how we are ushering out five, ten, twenty good years of people's lives. Because I think we all have to hold onto everything -- every experience that we have.

How did Chris, your now ex-husband, feel about you writing the book?
Chris is proud of what we've done too, and I know that, and that's why I give him so much credit toward the end of the book. He was my partner in what I call "the connected breakup." Not everyone can have a connected breakup, but I think everyone can have a compassionate divorce. But because I got to have a connected breakup Chris was very focused on me being okay. It was very important to him. He knows that ultimately that's what the book was about. I also find it very interesting that people ask me why he would let me write this book.... We automatically assume there has to be tension and hatred. And it's such an easy thing, to give people room to let go gently! And we need to. [Chris and I] have one wonderful thing that we share that we knew would be a boundary. I wanted to write the book in a way that my son, if he ever chooses to read it, wouldn't be confused, embarrassed, or ashamed. Also, Chris knows me pretty well; we had a long life together. I think we just had that trust.

Were there parts that were difficult for you to write about?
There are still a couple of places in the book where I wince. There's the moment when I'm on my hallway floor and my son is walking around me. I thought about cutting that 20 times. But I wanted other women who found themselves that flat out to be able to comfort themselves. I was able 10 seconds later to get myself up. I didn't do everything right. You say all the things you're not going to say -- like me screaming at Chris that it's about the money. Because that's what panic feels like.

You also write pretty openly about being fired from Marie Claire. Most people wouldn't be so forthcoming about such a setback. Though obviously it turned out well -- if that hadn't happened, you may never have landed at Redbook!
I'm laughing because apparently I'm not quite like everybody else this way. I'm very, very confident -- and confident that I will continue to fail. I'm not afraid of failure. Failure has brought me great clarity. I hated being fired. Hated it.... It just wasn't until my divorce that I was like, Oh yeah, it's not for just work. I may be in a good place now, but ooh, I had to dig through a lot of self-recrimination to get there. I felt sad when I turned forty. The grief comes back. It doesn't all get tied up in a bow. But I don't attach the grief to a bigger sense of failure. I say yes, it is sad that Chris and I didn't make it. But I kind of send up my prayer into the universe -- and I feel better.


Melissa Rose Bernardo is a freelance writer in New York City who hopes someday to acquire even one-fourth of Stacy Morrison's optimism.


More About Love and Marriage on Lemondrop:
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