Gwyneth Paltrow made divorce look easy when she consciously uncoupled from Chris Martin three years ago, but now the actress says the experience was one of the hardest in her life.
“I wanted to turn my divorce into a positive,” Paltrow, 44, tells The EDIT. “What if I didn’t blame the other person for anything, and held myself 100% accountable? What if I checked my own s— at the door and put my children first? And reminded myself about the things about my ex-husband that I love, and fostered the friendship?”
Maintaining that positive attitude, Paltrow admits, was the hard part. “What I put myself through to get there was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she explains.
If she has any regrets from the breakup, coining the much-derided phase “conscious uncoupling” is not one of them. “People are coming around. I know it’s a dorky term, but it’s very worthwhile,” she says. “I’m always the person who gets s— at first, but then later people say, ‘Hey, maybe that’s a good idea.’ I don’t mind.”
For Paltrow, the criticism over the phrase was just another example of the blowback she feels she has received since rebranding herself as a lifestyle guru with her website Goop. “It’s got a few layers to it,” she says of the backlash. “People were fine with me as an actress, but with Goop it was like, ‘Stay in your lane.’ Women in general get a lot of pushback, especially if you’re successful and attractive … I’m not saying I’m attractive. I mean when you’re considered attractive.”
Ultimately she sees the divorce, like other major turning points in her life, as an opportunity for growth. “I’ve had an extraordinary life, where things have happened in a huge way – huge success, huge joy, huge pain, huge loss,” she says. “And the reason I feel happy today is because I’ve milked the f—– out of every opportunity. I haven’t made one mistake that I haven’t used as a stepping stone to get somewhere else. I’m ruthless when it comes to using the hard things.”
As for her kids with Martin, Apple, 13, and Moses, 11, Paltrow says both have adjusted well to life in the spotlight. “They passed laws a couple of years ago about [paparazzi] not harassing children, so I take them everywhere with me like a shield – they’re good for something!” she joked.
“My kids can handle [fame]. They know their lives are extraordinary,” she added. “And girls today are allowed to be anything; they’re self-possessed, confident, they like themselves. In Apple’s peer group, I don’t see the insecurity I saw at that age.”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE
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