I read the news of celebrity break-ups carefully, sometimes cheering on a strong woman who will surely rise up on her own in a way that brings the spotlight to single parenthood, and sometimes with a bit of sadness about what a very public couple must be going through that I thank the stars I got to go through (relatively) privately. But when the news came that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were not just splitting but going through a "conscious uncoupling," I cringed. I didn't want to read about it - on Goop, where it was first published, or in People or even in my Facebook feed. I wanted the news to go away. Quietly.
But of course it didn't. Because people love to hate Gwyneth. And how many of us really love Coldplay? And these are perfect-seeming blond, thin, super-privileged talents who have Bey and Jay-Z over for Sunday grill-outs and carry $4,000 diaper bags and somehow convince their kids to keep the mini-fedora on until after all the photos are snapped, edited and published on newsstands. So there was more than talk about the uncoupling power couple. There was ranting and joking and many wishes for a DISLIKE button.
Gwyneth Paltrow is not the problem - for me, anyway, although I have written many, many posts about the ridiculousness of her lifestyle site that only really speaks to the way the 1% lives, and lives in $800 cashmere wrap "mommy must-haves." While I am not a fan of Coldplay myself, Chris Martin isn't even an issue for me with this story. And "conscious uncoupling," - that is a term I have known and read in some form or book or article or another over the last six years, so it is not abrasive to me.
The reason I wanted to run from the Gwyn-Chris-uncoupling was because of the way the news was positioned, and because too many of the comments came from too many people who had never had to consider, let alone announce that they were splitting up from the mother or father of their children.
Here are the exact words published on Goop:
It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate. We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.
Gwyneth & Chris
What follows this post and a picture of the couple in couple-y days, relaxed and happy and decidedly A-lister looking in the most Bohemian of ways. Then there is an analysis - or perhaps more accurately, an explanation - of "conscious uncoupling" by Drs. Habib Sadeghi and Sherry Sami that is so full of statistics and trends and "this is why divorce happens", that I honestly had to force myself to just skim the 19-paragraph, 6-section monstrosity. All of this together, even the sweet simplicity of the short bit written by the un-couple('s publicist) was just too much. Just too, too much.
I want Gwyneth Paltrow to be relatable - just an eense - if not in describing how her kids call legendary musicians "uncle" and in taking off in a convertible with Batali to gasp over food most of us will never put to our taste buds, then in the moment of such great vulnerability, such great opportunity to connect. I guess it would be nice for Chris Martin to be that way, too, but as a single mama and divorced mother, my gaze is on her. And really, I just want to look away.
I haven't chosen the perfect words to describe my own travels through and beyond divorce (although I feel like I have mastered the descriptions of my ex-husband in a few key moments), and I don't expect anyone to when there is pain and heartbreak and crap things like making it official to your family or friends or on social networks or to your gazillions of fans. This whole Paltrow-Martin package was, however, very clearly put together with lots of care and a whole team of advisors. Each word in that one-paragraph statement was placed there purposely. There were lots of eyes and tapping fingers and opinions in the doctors' academic dissection that followed. Perhaps a little bit of it could have spurred an "oh, yes" moment for readers?
Lots of people, at least those in my feed and whose words I eventually read in comments on major media posts about the split, poured out their sympathies and support and supposition that this all was very sad for Gwyneth and Chris. Maybe they are very sad, or have been, or will always be. But if you scroll up and read the words, you will notice that they never mention it. No sign of negativity at all, in fact, among the not-cussing, not-throwing shit, not-stalking outside of Trader Joe's and on Twitter, not-weeping openly.
Perhaps that is a tenet of conscious uncoupling. Maybe it is how Gwyneth and Chris do. Or did. But I am not buying it. I don't want to read anymore about it. I can't relate, and that is because they've not allowed me - or us - to relate to them.
That's too bad. Maybe. Or possibly, it is letting us off the hook of caring that their relationship is over. Just like mine, or yours or ours.
So let's do that - stop caring about their uncoupling. Every word they've used in this epic media share tells us that we should.