Podcast: From Divorce to Besties

How did Gabe and Lisa go from being married to divorced to being best friends? Do they still have a residual anger at each other? Hurt feelings? Secret Attraction? How do your current spouses feel about their friendship?

If you're curious to understand their unique journey, join us as they tell it all on today's podcast.

(Transcript available below)

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About the not crazy podcast hosts

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and public speaker living with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Insanity is an asshole and other observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.

Lisa is the producer of the Psych Central podcast Not Crazy. She is the recipient of the National Alliance on Mental Illness' Above and Beyond award, has worked extensively with the Ohio Peer Supporter Certification program, and is a workplace suicide prevention trainer. Lisa has battled depression her entire life and has partnered with Gabe for over a decade to advocate mental health. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband. enjoys international travel; and orders 12 pairs of shoes online, chooses the best and sends the other 11 back.

Computer generated transcript for "Divorce to Bestiesepisode

Editor's note:: Please note that this transcript was computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Many Thanks.

Lisa: Y.You're listening to Not Crazy, a Psych Central podcast hosted by my ex-husband with bipolar disorder. Together we created the Mental Health Podcast for People Who Hate Mental Health Podcasts.

Gift: Welcome everyone, on this week's Not Crazy podcast, I'll be your host, Gabe Howard, and with me, as always, is Lisa Kiner. Lisa?

Lisa: Hello everyone, today's quote comes from the Live Happy website: When two friends become lovers, that's normal. When two ex-lovers become friends, that is maturity.

Gift: Lover. That's all I hear, like in this whole quote, do you remember that Saturday Night Live sketch?

Lisa: Yes / Yes.

Gift: And then we became lovers. The word lover just has that awful connotation that I feel very uncomfortable with, especially with you, Lisa.

Lisa: It makes me more uncomfortable the more you say the word, frankly.

Gift: Right, but that's weird. It's strange that at one point in my life you were my wife and I talked to you like a woman, you know? Hey sweety. Hey pookie Just what you would expect from a romantic relationship.

Lisa: Correct.

Gift: We were married for five years. We were together three years earlier. I mean two years.

Lisa: Is that correct?

Gift: I dont know. We were together for a long time. This was not a cuff season situation. We were together for years.

Lisa: What is the cuffing season?

Gift: Never heard of a cuff season?

Lisa: No.

Gift: In the cuffing season, it gets cold outside and you don't want to go out and date because it's hard.

Lisa: OKAY.

Gift: But you still want to be with someone. So you only tie her up for a few months.

Lisa: Cuff them?

Gift: And then you break up. It's called cuffing season.

Lisa: Oh, so is cuff synonymous with sex?

Gift: I think it's like being handcuffed.

Lisa: That makes no sense.

Gift: I don't design millennial words, I don't know what you want.

Lisa: Ok, all right, it's a millennial thing, OK. Yes,

Gift: It is only.

Lisa: I do not understand their ways, their ways are a mystery to me.

Gift: Cuffing season is when it's cold outside. So you don't want to put on the short skirt and high heels and go to the clubs to meet people. So you stay in a relationship for a few months until it warms up outside, and then, boom, you're back. And it's cuffing season.

Lisa: I go to google.

Gift: It's UrbanDictionary.com. I highly recommend it. There I learn everything my nieces and nephews say. Otherwise we would have two different conversations.

Lisa: Yes,

Gift: Similar to now.

Lisa: The thirsty thing.

Gift: Yeah, I had no idea.

Lisa: I know right, it's so weird and all that swoll, I don't get it at all.

Gift: Well, I mean, I'm puffy. I am A.F.

Lisa: Oh it took me a second

Gift: Yes / Yes.

Lisa: Because I am not one of them.

Gift: Yes. Laugh at me what you want. I just want people to understand that this wasn't a short relationship

Lisa: No no.

Gift: It's been a long relationship.

Lisa: We were together for years.

Gift: We owned a house together, we bought a house, we bought cars, we went on vacation. We.

Lisa: We had pets.

Gift: We had pets, everything. And now I can't see it. At one point, Lisa, I called you Dear Honey Pookie. We held hands, we cuddled. We have done everything that a married couple has done and behaved. I mean we were married. We behaved and acted.

Lisa: Correct.

Gift: Like a married couple. And now, all these years later, when someone says, hey Gabe, do you miss making out with Lisa? I think eww, eww.

Lisa: Oh yes, eww

Gift: Correct.

Lisa: Wow, I've never noticed that before.

Gift: I get this visceral reaction and it's completely normal. Nobody wants to make out with their best friend.

Lisa: I never noticed

Gift: Correct. It would be like

Lisa: Ick.

Gift: When someone said, hey Gabe, do you want to make out with your sister? No, that's disgusting. I don't want to make out with my friends. It's a different relationship. But what makes that interesting?

Lisa: I never noticed that.

Gift: How did we go on, you know, hey, at one point we made out all the time and now we're like uck. That's disgusting.

Lisa: I never noticed that. That is interesting.

Gift: Where did that come from because we were very stereotypically married, right?

Lisa: Of course we were married like any other married couple.

Gift: We're very stereotypical best friends with maybe a touch of code.

Lisa: A line?

Gift: A line.

Lisa: A little line

Gift: A small one like a cup.

Lisa: Maybe several cups, yeah

Gift: As a

Lisa: Maybe a pound and a half.

Gift: A Sam & # 39; s club bag full of code,

Lisa: Correct. Correct.

Gift: But it's not romantic in nature, that's my point.

Lisa: No, that has not been the case for a long time.

Gift: It's a 180.

Lisa: Is that true, is it a 180?

Gift: I dont know? What is the opposite of marriage?

Lisa: I'm not sure that this is the opposite of marriage.

Gift: It's interesting, and I think that's where the maturity part of your quote comes in. Many people think that the opposite of a romantic relationship is a hateful one.

Lisa: It is not exactly that.

Gift: In our case, that is certainly not the case. I think the opposite of a romantic relationship is probably nothing.

Lisa: Yes, the exact opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.

Gift: Well, I don't even think it's apathy, I think it doesn't exist, I think it's oh, yeah, I remember being with him.

Lisa: Like I said, apathy. This is apathy

Gift: Is that apathy?

Lisa: I guess so.

Gift: It's just nothing.

Lisa: And we've already talked about it, oh you know the opposite of love is hate. No it is not. You loved your ex-husband. Now you hate him. No, it's still such a strong emotion. This is not good.

Gift: I agree, and whatever the opposite of a marriage or romance or love or romantic love, they are not best friends forever.

Lisa: Probably not, no.

Gift: Do you know anyone else, literally everyone else, who is best friends with their spouse?

Lisa: No.

Gift: Lisa, obviously I think everyone knows exes who are not enemies. I think everyone knows exes who get along. Co-parents, for example, have many divorced couples who raise children together. They maintain the appearance of a relationship. But that's not our relationship.

Lisa: No, and we get comments on it all the time.

Gift: All the time

Lisa: The whole time,

Gift: All the time.

Lisa: It's interesting.

Gift: Yes.

Lisa: Usually negative, but sometimes positive.

Gift: Can you believe that i mean what? What kind of crazy world do we live in where someone is like, oh, Lisa is your ex-wife? Yes. And you don't hate her and you want her to die? No, I really appreciate her. Oh what's wrong with you

Lisa: I know it's a little scary.

Gift: They are mad at me, they think I did something wrong. I don't know about Viroj, but Kendall, my wife, is pulled aside all the time. You can't tell me there's nothing going on there.

Lisa: Yeah, that doesn't happen that often for Viroj because it's a gender thing.

Gift: Yes.

Lisa: But yeah, that's one thing.

Gift: Do you know what I love about this event? It's Kendall's answer.

Lisa: Oh, what's this?

Gift: Yes, she says well, if Gabe and Lisa run away together, that's the punishment they deserve

Lisa: Yes,

Gift: Because I would kill you

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: Light. We'd only kill each other within a month of running away. One of us would try to take the other off. Would we both be in jail? Can you imagine the fight? It always makes me laugh when she says that because I think she is right. We are at the right level. If you and I tried to remarry for any reason, let me be very clear. That is very hypothetical. Nobody discusses it.

Lisa: That doesn't happen, yes.

Gift: But it would be a train wreck, we would both be unhappy and it would cost us the good we have. I think a lot of people don't understand that. They are like, why are you friends with your ex? And the answer is because we should never have married. We have exceeded.

Lisa: Most of all, we are usually mistaken for siblings.

Gift: Yeah what's creepy because we naturally have that romantic past, right?

Lisa: Right right.

Gift: It is clear that people can see that we have a close relationship. And they don't just want to say, well, these two are friends or co-workers etc because they feel like this is another step. But whenever we correct it and say, yes, you are right, you took it in. We're very, very close. Lisa was my ex-wife. We're just best friends now. This is where the questions come into play.

Lisa: Yeah, that confuses people.

Gift: We've already discussed the negatives. The negatives are a bummer. I'm sorry people react this way, but we get a lot of people who are naturally curious. How did you do that?

Lisa: I also get a lot of people who are almost a confessional. You know where they're going, I'm actually friends with my ex too, but they take you aside and tell you it's a secret. They don't just say it like that, oh yeah Oh that's interesting. You know, or even. Oh, that's unusual. You know my ex husband and I are very you know they are like, well, you know, or the number one thing that happens is people tell me, well, I think that makes sense . I know so and so. And even after their divorce, she helped him through cancer. It's always like this. She always helped him. And it's always cancer. It is never a man who helps a woman do something. There is always a woman to help a man through cancer. That's number one that people say to me. It is strange. So just let them know that you have cancer.

Gift: I am great. Great.

Lisa: I'm just telling you.

Gift: I like, I don't have enough problems, I

Lisa: Number one is. Oh yeah, I knew a couple who cared for him through cancer and number two is, oh, I share this deep secret too. Let me share it with you now.

Gift: It really reminds me of when I give a speech and then when I come off the stage people pull me aside and say, you know, I also have bipolar or mental illnesses. And they want to tell me their story.

Lisa: Right, yes, it reminds me exactly of that. Because they feel like only you can understand, because they think the story is so incredibly unique that they can't just share it daily that they have found this kindred spirit.

Gift: Okay, okay with all of this, but I still feel like you're kind of dropping the question Lisa. How did we get here?

Lisa: You know I was trying to think about it.

Gift: How did we get from a married couple to a divorced couple to BFFs? It's a strange journey.

Lisa: I don't find it so strange, part of it is on TV, people have been married and divorced for years and then never speak to each other again. In real life, you're not just breaking a long-term relationship and being out of touch forever. Their lives are intertwined. You have the same group of friends. Maybe you work together, you have children, you own property together. You live in the same city. In real life, cutting off a cold turkey is not that easy.

Gift: Ok, but it's not that hard and look, we don't have kids and we didn't have an intertwined group of friends.

Lisa: We lived in the same city.

Gift: Of course, a city with 1.2 million inhabitants. Did you think we'd meet at Tastee-Freez or McDonald & # 39; s? They always say the McDonald & # 39; s in small towns. Did you think we'd go get fish? I feel really bad now because all of our listeners in small towns will be sending us hate mail. I apologize.

Lisa: No, because they know that I am one of you and that Gabe is a city that he does not understand.

Gift: That is not true. I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania.

Lisa: No, you are not a second generation city anyway.

Gift: That is, one that is just offensive.

Lisa: This is true.

Gift: My senior year had 29 children. How many did your senior year have? I miss you from a small town and I don't.

Lisa: Gabe grew up in Columbus but moved to a small town to finish high school.

Gift: Yes,

Lisa: I'm just saying yes.

Gift: My mother grew up in the city where she got pregnant in the back of a car after watching a soccer game on Valentine's Day. How much more small town land can you get than I imagined? It was a Dodge Charger, people. It was so stereotypical in 1996. I'm pretty sure Foreigner was on the radio.

Lisa: You mean 1976.

Gift: What did i say

Lisa: 1996.

Gift: I am old that is

Lisa: Yes,

Gift: When I graduated from high school.

Lisa: I know.

Gift: In a small town

Lisa: Uh-huh.

Gift: Where i lived

Lisa: Yes / Yes. First off, no, you are a city dweller, you have always been a city dweller, we all know you are a city dweller. They do things like cross the street without looking either way. It is ridiculous. Also, don't check both directions in front of railroad tracks. Yes, it is true. Sometimes Gabe drives directly over railroad tracks. He calls Pop Soda. That is all that needs to be said.

Gift: Lisa.

Lisa: If he wants a Diet Coke, he says he'll buy soda, not pop, soda. Yes, city. City all the way.

Gift: I understand why you'd want to change the subject because you feel uncomfortable admitting that you just have no idea. You are uncomfortable admitting that this was an accident. Our relationship was saved by accident. I think you are very uncomfortable with this. I don't think you like the idea

Lisa: Why should I feel uncomfortable with this?

Gift: Because this is the third time I've asked you, how did we get from being a married couple to BFFs?

Lisa: Well, I answered that.

Gift: No you weren't. They said it wasn't that unusual, it happened all the time. "Really?"

Lisa: No no.

Gift: Name someone else.

Lisa: What I said is that in real life you can't just cut off a cold turkey because your life is intertwined.

Gift: But just because you can't cut off cold turkey doesn't mean you'll become BFFs, all of them go through the same divorce process.

Lisa: I come there

Gift: Are you?

Lisa: Not everyone goes through the same divorce process. What makes you think that?

Gift: Yes, some people have children.

Lisa: I agree? Every situation is unique. Nobody goes through the same process.

Gift: That makes us even stranger, that binds them and they don't become BFFs.

Lisa: I think part of that was, like I said, we had an intertwined life etc, and then the next would be, honestly, because we kind of had to stay together because of the house and health insurance. That gave us a window.

Gift: On the one hand, it gave us a window, but I don't think it did. I really don't. Lots of people have houses for sale. Many people in America struggle with their divorced spouse's health insurance and fail to become friends. I have just.

Lisa: It gave us a longer period of time than usual, and that gave us time for some of the hurt feelings to recede.

Gift: I try to explain this to you again and again, but it is not unusual. This has not happened to us what has not happened to other people. Our result is different. Every single divorced couple in America faces issues with home sales, money sharing, legal proceedings, and health insurance. That said, you haven't brought up anything unusual or unusual for a divorced couple in America, but their stories don't show that they're best friends. Your stories become very stereotypical and they become nothing, not enemies, just nothing. You just move on. For example, everything you just listed happened between my first wife and me. We had problems with health insurance. We had to sell our house. We had to go through the judicial process. How come we're not best friends forever?

Lisa: Ok how come What's the answer?

Gift: Because we.

Lisa: You ask me how I think this happened, how are you? What do you think the answer is?

Gift: I really believe part of it was that we got married for the wrong reasons, but the reason we got married was a very compelling reason that is hard to ignore. You saved my life. You literally saved my life. That really creates a bond.

Lisa: Is that why we got married?

Gift: I guess so. Is not it?

Lisa: See, I never really saw it that way until we were divorced and then I started listening to your speeches and you started, not started, but you kept saying that all along. That surprised me a little. I've never seen it that way in particular. And I was surprised at how much emphasis or importance you put on it.

Gift: My theory has always been that the reason we got married is because we were connected by this amazing thing. Good or bad, it was a very traumatizing thing. You know, it's just not every day that you find yourself suicidal and help them.

Lisa: But that was a different experience for you than it was for me.

Gift: Right, but it was still an experience that we shared in a unique way. Just because we experienced them very differently doesn't mean that there weren't any overlaps that we experienced at the same time. I am sure that you have felt very protected by me because you have established yourself as my protector.

Lisa: I did. I still struggle with that today.

Gift: Yes, I felt very indebted to you because you protected me and I needed to be protected. I didn't know anything and you knew a lot. It's a different experience on both ends, but it's still a connecting experience. And I got it wrong because a marriage can be built on it. You cannot base a marriage on a single event. Marriage is based on things like shared values, shared goals, and the ability to tolerate one another in the same house. I only understand what I am saying, don't I? The things that make a marriage successful are actually much more mundane.

Lisa: Yes, it doesn't make a dramatic thing.

Gift: Well, right, and that's all we had. I think the reason we ended up together is because we thought that this one dramatic thing would be enough to build a relationship. To be more precise, I think we would have made a date if that hadn't happened. I would have thought you were intelligent. You would have thought that I was funny. We would have had some conversations, but then we would have started saying that this is the purpose of dating. We would have noticed that Gabe does not want to travel to the country. Gabe wants to own a house. Gabe spends money differently than I do. Gabe really likes exercise, and I don't like exercise that much. And maybe we would have gotten to the point where we lived together, but then we would have realized that we value things. And I like having a lot of people in my house. And you don't want anyone in your house.

Lisa: Correct. This is what your house is for.

Gift: Right, those things would have started to compete against each other and we would have made the very sensible decision that we don't have enough in common.

Lisa: We are not compatible.

Gift: Yes, we are not compatible and would have split up. If we were sane, you would have been a two- or three-year relationship that I fondly remember around the campfire.

Lisa: Are you going camping now?

Gift: I dont know. I'm going camping now. And I have no idea it is.

Lisa: You don't go camping. I'm ready to bet you've never gone camping.

Gift: My point is, I think if we hadn't had this big, dramatic thing we would have realized that we weren't compatible and we would have split up.

Lisa: So you say you think it was the drama. That we mistook these feelings for compatibility?

Gift: Well, I also think I was incredibly grateful. I mean, Lisa, what you did was amazing. Most people wouldn't do what you did. This is all the reason we became mental health attorneys because most of the people, after meeting a clearly mentally ill man who is extraordinarily suicidal, have all of these problems and have been with at best casually, and me casually say go out you come out like a lady.

Lisa: Yes / Yes.

Gift: You would have just walked away. You would have made me ghostly to keep the theme of the Millennial Words and no one would have accused you. If you'd sat by the campfire and said I would have met this red-haired guy like 20 years ago. Well what happened to him? He was crazy. He was crazy. I had to get away from him. You know, I heard that he later had bipolar disorder. People would have said, oh thank god you escaped. You don't want to confuse yourself with it. As you know and I am not trying to call your family here but your mother was very disappointed in you. She thought it was a very bad idea. And I want to point out that she was half right.

Lisa: Not exactly, but.

Gift: Nothing is accurate. The point is, is your mom, she had serious reservations and would actually have preferred if you said, hey, you know, that guy I've been with for a few months? It turns out that he has bipolar disorder that is untreated. So we broke up. That would have been a much better outcome for your parents. And again, I want to point out that they are not wrong.

Lisa: It was the number one advice I got then, not just from them but from everyone.

Gift: Are you not helping the sick person, was the number one piece of advice you received at the time?

Lisa: No, no, no, they don't say that. No, nobody says they don't help sick people. What they say is not to get tangled up with sick people, get out. In fact, I think we had a whole episode about it. We already talked about like when I said, hey, I met this guy and he has cancer, I leave him people like, oh my god, this is awful. What a bitch But if you say, hey, I met this guy and he has bipolar disorder, I'll stay with him, people will go, hmmm, what's wrong with her? If it's a mental illness, people expect you to leave. And if you don't, something is wrong with you. But if it's any physical problem, you are angry when you go.

Gift: So tie that back, not only did you not leave, you married the guy and

Lisa: Yes / Yes.

Gift: If the marriage didn't work out, you still haven't left. Really.

Lisa: I have no answer for you. And I don't think that's the answer, but I don't have a better one. And like I said, I never thought that was part of it until we were divorced and you talked about it. And we've talked about this many times over the years. It never occurred to me that we wouldn't remain friends. And I do not know why. I have no good reason It doesn't even sound reasonable when I say it. You always talk about it, hey, I always thought that at some point we would just lose touch. To be honest, I would never have thought that. I never thought there would be a future where we wouldn't have contact and I'm not sure why.

Gift: I'll go because you're an idiot, except that you were right.

Lisa: Did you really think that would happen? I mean when I called you answered, you called me, you kept in touch. It's not like you started sliding away and I ran after you. How did you think this lack of contact would happen? Neither of us got out.

Gift: There are generally things that decrease contact, right? Someone is dating someone else, this relationship is getting more serious. I really thought I was getting a girlfriend and I wasn't going to tell my girlfriend that I was still hanging out with my ex-wife because I thought that was inappropriate for the girlfriend. Fortunately, I'm apparently not as good with women as I thought because it took a long time to get a girlfriend. And when I got a girlfriend, I turned around. I had decided, no, Lisa crossed the Rubicon. Lisa's a girlfriend now, and whoever I'm dating needs to understand that I am actually friends with my ex-wife. But there is a period of time that if I had been involved in a serious relationship, I would have stopped contacting you because it is inappropriate to hang out with your ex in your new relationship. I mean.

Lisa: We got so much at the time, I didn't get that much because it's a gender thing again, but the idea that when you start seeing someone, you definitely have to cut off because it's disrespectful to the person other person is. In fact, the other person should be on guard because, after all, you are just waiting for this to happen.

Gift: One of the things that helped was that after we separated, divorced, and moved into the apartment, we didn't try to be in a relationship. It was debauchery. And then I realized that going back to my old habits wasn't healthy. But luckily at that point, I had a therapist, psychiatrist, and support groups. And I realized that I was going back to old patterns. Well, when I was single, before I did the following things and started doing them again. So I worked with my therapist. My therapist said look, you don't have to go out with anyone. You're doing it wrong You run out and hang out with people and then decide if you want to be with them. Why don't you choose who you want first? What are your values What are you looking for? What are you hoping for? What is a pros and cons list? What kind of person are you looking for?

Lisa: So you say that you've met someone before and then you say, OK, are they good, yes or no, while instead you should set some criteria in advance and find someone who will meet them?

Gift: Yes, and this trip took me a long time and it took me almost a year to figure out what kind of person I wanted to be married to.

Lisa: Or date?

Gift: Something. This was the first time in my life that I really thought about it. And during that time, you and I took a mental health walk for continuing to volunteer for the charity, which by the way, I worked smart for. And that made you one.

Lisa: Oh yeah that's why I did it.

Gift: That brought us very close. And you always showed up at all of the volunteer meetings and events. You have taken on projects and completed them exceptionally well, I would add.

Lisa: But you realize that wasn't a fluke, that was part of the protection thing because and we talked about it, I was pretty sure you were going to crash and burn. I was pretty sure you wouldn't make it. What do I say? I'm pretty sure I was positive. I was sure you would get burned saying, hey, I have problems with this charity. I have problems at work, I have problems walking. I thought, OK, sure, he needs me to save this. I clearly have to protect him in this case.

Gift: They realize it was the normal amount of anger all fundraisers, marketing and development managers have. I need more people, I need more money

Lisa: Probably.

Gift: I didn't have a mental crisis. I had to meet my numbers and my people and get the word out. And you were an excellent volunteer and your loss was felt, your loss was felt.

Lisa: Well, nobody knew that. Little did you realize that these are the normal growing pains anyone would have in this job, and neither have I.

Gift: It's really irrelevant, it just allowed us to do this thing. I consider this fundraiser to be the first thing we did as friends.

Lisa: Yes, I would agree with that.

Gift: Looks like a significant thing, I mean, I realize we watched Star Wars Symphony as friends, I know we had lunch as friends, I realize we watched reality TV and made pasta friends. I get it. These are simple, stupid, simple things. The first big thing we did as friends of Gabe and Lisa was this fundraiser.

Lisa: Well, it was also the first big project we ever did together. We don't have children. That's it. I mean, I suppose we bought the house, but I did most of the work on it.

Gift: It's fascinating to hear you say this because I think the first big project we did together was tackling bipolar disorder.

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: You gave that nothing. It took four years.

Lisa: Well, I mean, I think in some ways I saw this as a continuation of that because you went out and got a job and existed in the world and you know what I mean?

Gift: That's all right and good, dear Lisa, the point I'm making is that this has given us something to build on. I didn't think Gabe and Lisa would be able to do something positive, like a hard stop. We got divorced for a reason.

Lisa: Well, according to your logic, we just got over bipolar disorder, which is pretty positive.

Gift: Yes, it was great, and since that no longer existed, there was no reason for us to be friends.

Lisa: Because you felt the big project was over, we could just do it now.

Gift: Yes it was amazing.

Lisa: I can't explain, I didn't feel like that. When I look back, I see this as a project we did together, but I didn't see it then. When we were lost in it, I didn't see it that way.

Gift: The reality is, I just thought it was over. Gabe and Lisa did something together that was amazing. And then we did something together that wasn't amazing. And that was our marriage. It had a lot of problems. It had some good parts. I don't want you to hear that I never had fond memories, but the marriage failed. Now it's like one and one. So I really saw this fundraiser as a tiebreaker. And the fact that it went so well together showed me that Gabe and Lisa might have some juice left over. Maybe we still have the ability to do good things together. And because it was so successful, I was ready to try something different. And ironically, it was next year's fundraiser that we ran together. And then we started my speaking career.

Lisa: The fundraiser for the third year. Yes.

Gift: And yes, the third year fundraiser, my speaking career. And we worked on the podcast together. They have been making them for years. Now you are in front of the microphone. I've just built all of these successes here. But that's really where it started. And when people say how did you become friends, I think the answer to that question is that we started over. I understand that we had history and it is not possible to start over. But we had a friendship that turned into a failed marriage. And then we started over and it worked.

Lisa: After a word from our sponsors, we'll be right back.

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Gift: And we tell the story of Gabe and Lisa's genesis again.

Lisa: So you're saying that you actually made these conscious decisions: hey, let's start this new project together, see what happens, and if that project is successful, think, oh, that went well, let's get in do another project? Have you actually thought about it like that?

Gift: In a way, I wasn't happy with it when you showed up to volunteer for this fundraiser after our divorce. And if you remember.

Lisa: You asked me.

Gift: No

Lisa: Yeah, I was sure your life was going to fall apart and then you said to me, hey, my life actually fell apart, I'm going to lose my job because terrible shit happens while walking. I am desperate for help. And I said OK. And I rushed in and helped. That's how I remember it.

Gift: This is

Lisa: Didn't that happen?

Gift: I think the answer lies in the middle. I don't think you made this entirely out of whole stuff.

Lisa: You didn't say you gotta do this, you just said hey this is in trouble. And I figured I can help with these problems.

Gift: I think we both tell the same story. You're just putting the emphasis on the wrong point. They believe you came in and saved my ass while I believe you stayed here and were very helpful.

Lisa: Well the same difference.

Gift: Well it's about, I mean, it's not the same difference, but I can see how you can get there.

Lisa: One, anyone, you just need a warm body, but you didn't have one, right? It wasn't anything special to me. They just needed someone to show up and nobody was. It could have been anyone, but it wasn't. It was me. I don't know you asked me to, but you specifically said you had this problem and I volunteered.

Gift: Once again I can see how to get there from there, but I don't think that's correct.

Lisa: Ok what do you think happened?

Gift: I believe you stayed a volunteer, and although I was uncomfortable with everything that was going on, I was unable to let you go. Lisa, obviously things aren't 20/20 in retrospect because memories fade and you forget different things. But at the time I needed you, I needed good quality, good volunteers. And you and I volunteered for this organization before I worked there.

Lisa: We'd volunteered for years and then you got a paid job.

Gift: Yes, to be honest, I was not able to let you go because I actually wanted and needed your help, the organization wanted and needed your help. And remember what you said about having friends in common. This organization was probably the only thing we had in common for people at the time we split up.

Lisa: Yes, but they saw us there as a whole.

Gift: They really did, and ironically, they saw us as a unit forever. I still think they do

Lisa: Yes,

Gift: See us as a unit.

Lisa: Well, because we'd always volunteered together. In the past, we always volunteered as a unit, then you got a paid job. I think people just expected me to be around, partly because most of them didn't realize we'd split up or that we were getting divorced.

Gift: You were like the first lady.

Lisa: People didn't necessarily know we weren't together anymore. We don't ventilate our entire business.

Gift: It was really irrelevant, the point I am making is that you asked me if I did it on purpose, like it was some kind of litmus test, like I was thinking, well, I'm going to let them stay. And if it works, I'll stay friends with her. And the answer to that is no. I didn't really think about whether or not you could stay here because I knew how important you are to the organization. Number one, I knew how much I needed your help because you were an excellent, excellent volunteer. Also, I felt I didn't have the authority in the world to tell you not to be a part of an organization we jointly founded. It was true that I was now an employee and you were still a volunteer. But we found this organization together. The day I volunteered for this organization was the day you volunteered for this organization. And it all merged when we hosted this event together. We just did it. And that was very positive. I remember the day of the walk. I remember walking around and tearing off the signs. And I remember probably for the first time since the divorce carefree, positive feelings toward you that weren't well bogged down, but. Well, but she did, it was just a purely positive thing. And I thought, well, I wouldn't mind having more of it. But there have been many people in my life who told me that this was evidence that I wasn't moving forward, or that it wasn't mentally healthy, or that it wasn't good for me. I don't know why I ignored all of these people, probably because, quite frankly, they all sucked on relationships too.

Lisa: Did you actively think that you wish I wasn't there? Because I never got that mood?

Gift: That is hard. There's a part of me that wants to say, yes, it would have been easier if you were just gone.

Lisa: It has never crossed my mind.

Gift: That's because this wasn't an option for me. I felt it was our organization so I had no right to keep you from it. That's why I never thought about it. But if you ask me if I thought it would be easier not to see my ex, I thought it would be easier. And if you were gone I wouldn't have gotten all the shit from my friends and family about how not to move forward and how to hold on to the past. And sometimes we argued about things. Never while we were volunteering. But remember, one day when I came over you are living in the house. I had moved into an apartment and we were working on something at the kitchen table. And I thought, oh, I want to bring this back to my apartment. And you said stop shopping my house. This is

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: My house. You can't walk around and shop here. Well? This is not a Wal-Mart. You don't pick up anything you need in your apartment, take it off the shelf and take it home with you. It is my house

Lisa: I don't remember it, but it sounds like something I'd say yes.

Gift: Since you're still there, that caused a quote unquote, fight I.

Lisa: It just never occurred to me not to volunteer there anymore. It was something I had done, we had done it for years. We've been there for a long time and at the time it was a big part of my social contacts. You know we knew all of these people. We were friends with them. It never crossed my mind to stop. I never got the impression that you wanted me to stop, or that you expected me to stop, or that you thought I should.

Gift: It was more complex than that and that's what I'm trying to explain. The reality is, you know, spoiler alert, everyone. The reason Lisa and I are still friends is because of happiness. There was obviously a bond. We obviously have a lot in common. We think highly of each other. We enjoy each other's company. All of these things are obviously true. But when you're about to leave your romantic partner, be it through a divorce or a breakup, and you're trying to figure out how to become BFFs, it's all just random. What happened for Lisa and me is that we started making new memories and building a friendship. And basically we just erased the past. And even that is a lie, because until today, 15, 16, 17 years later, Lisa and I will still get into a fight that will end with her accusing me of stealing her youth.

Lisa: Yes / Yes.

Gift: So we're not even over the trauma yet. I don't know how we can do it. The only reason we're reporting this is to get people to stop emailing and asking us

Lisa: We get this question very often.

Gift: I. Lisa, you don't seem to know the answer anymore. Why are we friends?

Lisa: You know, I often don't tell people the backstory of our relationship, or maybe I tell them we're childhood friends or something.

Gift: Oh that is good. I've never used this before.

Lisa: Yeah well it works well because people are back to the brother and sister business, you know, are you two related? Are you two brother and sister? Oh, we grew up on the same street or something. I dont know. We're childhood friends, folks, accept that because then a woman and a man can be friends if they were childhood friends and never became romantic

Gift: Correct.

Lisa: Because it's just too taxing to have to explain. The questions are always the same. It's getting boring. It just annoys me. It's annoying.

Gift: I think you just have to be open to the possibility, right? Really, that's the only real advice we can give, right Lisa?

Lisa: I'm sorry, I'm still largely stuck. Didn't you want me there, did you want me to stop volunteering? Did you say to yourself, gee, I hope she'll stop.

Gift: I never would have thought that, but it would have been easier. You represented a failure, you were an example of a failure in my life. You were my second divorce. You cost me money And I want to point out that you told me in as many words as you could that any day I would fail and be home.

Lisa: Yeah that's what i was thinking.

Gift: Then why should I want you with me?

Lisa: You have had periods when you are very unpredictable, have you? Many months after you left, I saw this as more unpredictable and thought this was his way. Today he is a vegetarian. Tomorrow he decides to take part. Who knows? Correct.

Gift: Don't forget, I was vegan for a day.

Lisa: I know you were vegan for a day.

Gift: I really like cheese.

Lisa: You always took on those projects that you discarded within hours, days or weeks. I thought, OK, this is another one, and any moment he's going to come to his senses and we'll go back to our normal lives. Many months after you left, I kept expecting you to get over it and we would just go back to normal life.

Gift: And I think this is problematic and I'm trying to explain it because I think what a normal person would hear is, oh, the reason he's friends is because Gabe left, but Lisa kept following him .

Lisa: Right and tried to get back together.

Gift: And that's not true.

Lisa: It's hard to explain, it's not exactly true, but it's not false either. I expected you to come home. I was still thinking that you are not home. And at one point that obviously changed, and I'm not sure when.

Gift: Well it changed after I got home. You see that, right? Lisa and I had a two month break during which we made up our minds, you know what? We'll clear it up.

Lisa: Well, like many long term couples who break up, we walked back and forth for a while.

Gift: This is what you go with, we went back and forth? Like many longtime couples who split up, Gabe pulled back for two months and Lisa kicked his ass out and realized that life with him is so much better when he lives across town.

Lisa: Yes yes yes yes

Gift: I'm only addressing this because.

Lisa: Yes, but not before you had to buy a second vacuum cleaner.

Gift: I had to buy a second vacuum.

Lisa: I'm sorry, I didn't think we needed two, it was weird.

Gift: You made me give up a vacuum cleaner and two months later I had to buy another one that you never paid me for. Do you know what else I gave away? A TV. That annoyed me more than the vacuum cleaner.

Lisa: I could see that, yes. Yes.

Gift: Yes, and a mattress I had to buy a new one.

Lisa: The really fun part was the way your friends who helped you move 3 times were like this, so you're moving out again, right?

Gift: Remember what he told me

Lisa: What?

Gift: That's it. Does she have no friends? Have your friends just worn? We're done. I'm bringing this up because it keeps the water cloudy. Correct.

Lisa: Yes it does, it does, you are right

Gift: We actually made another mistake, we think oh my god we get along, we're doing so well.

Lisa: Yeah, actually, yeah, that happened, we didn't fight, there wasn't all the trouble anymore, let's go. You know we can do this job. Look at how good things are together. There were all these bad things that happened before. That won't happen now. I still love you. We can do this work. Let's get back together Let's go back together.

Gift: Yes, everything came back.

Lisa: Yes it sure did. Quite fast.

Gift: Yes, almost instantly

Lisa: Yeah yeah pretty much yeah

Gift: Yes i blame you

Lisa: Yes.

Gift: You stole my Christmas party, that made it worse, we got together again like in October and parted ways in January. In order to

Lisa: Yes / Yes.

Gift: We just totally ruined a holiday season because we're honestly some idiots.

Lisa: But on the one hand I would say, well, we shouldn't have done that, we shouldn't have moved back in together, but or should we?

Gift: Now we know. We know we should always be friends, and I keep pointing out to people that Lisa did what she did for me when I was sick, took me to the hospital, explained mental illness and suicide to me and helped me diagnosed. And Lisa was a man. I would describe her as my brother. She is my family. She is my best friend, this man. Oh what he did for me is amazing. But because Lisa was a woman and I had all of these feelings, I confused them with the types of feelings you are facing.

Lisa: A romantic partner.

Gift: A romantic partner but good life partner, you have a lot of boring shit in common, you both like the same food, you both like to go to bed at the same time, you like the same type of mattress. You both want to live in the same neighborhood. They both want to manage money the way you both celebrate the holidays, just like you do. They have stereotypical values. And just on and on and on, I'm just listening, not emailing us and saying, well, I'm the complete opposite of my husband. We have been married for 45 years. Oh yeah. Me and my wife have never been like they used to be. And we've been married for 68 years. Yes, I understand it. But in general, the things that bind a relationship together are not the kind of things they'll ever make a movie or write a book about

Lisa: They're boring.

Gift: Because they're boring as hell. Lisa, we were never bored.

Lisa: There was a lot of drama, I didn't see how sick it was back then.

Gift: I didn't either. Now I come home and the world is calm and I miss some of this you know there's a reason Gabe Howard is home to all of his friends and family. It is Gabe and Kendall who house it all. We love this mess. Lisa, I don't think you ever threw a party in your house because you don't like it. You'd rather come to my house. And so you can see where this would be a problem if we were married because I wanted to host these events

Lisa: Yes you did

Gift: And you didn't like it.

Lisa: They realize that there is more to this story. Yes, you wanted to host the events but you didn't want to do any of the work, you just wanted it to be magical.

Gift: And the fighting continues years after the divorce.

Lisa: Who had to end up doing all the prep and cleaning and eating and who had to do all of these things, Gabe? You're right. I'm totally over it now. It's ridiculous to be bitter about it so many years later.

Gift: I have no idea whether that is relevant or not, however.

Lisa: It's absolutely relevant.

Gift: So you're telling me that if I had done all of the work you would have wanted 20 people in your house?

Lisa: Ok, excellent point, it doesn't matter. Period, gift.

Gift: We never passed there. I have no idea if Lisa did all the work for the party or if she remembers incorrectly or if she did too much work or if the answer is that she wanted to go zero. And the fact that she did 10 percent was too much because there were 20 people in her house and she didn't like it. I dont know. Even Lisa will admit that all of these things are possibilities.

Lisa: This is true. These are good points.

Gift: But at its core Lisa doesn't want 20 people in her house. Lisa has a four bedroom house and no guest rooms. I have a three bedroom, two guest bedroom house.

Lisa: He makes it weird and sometimes there are actually people in both rooms. What is it all about?

Gift: And here's the thing, neither of us was wrong. I've spent much of our marriage thinking that you were wrong about not wanting 20 people in your home.

Lisa: I did that too.

Gift: That's why we weren't compatible. And those are the things that we didn't find out. We don't have this problem with the BFF. Lisa loves that I want to have all the parties.

Lisa: They are good parties.

Gift: Yes. Lisa wants to see the Super Bowl. She wants to see the ball fall. She wants to bring some devilish eggs and cheese dip with her. She just doesn't want it in her house. And I want it to be mine, Lisa. And I want to stay up for six hours and argue about this worldly nonsense. And after this esoteric argument, Lisa wants to retire to her own house. We missed that.

Lisa: I'm not as sociable as you are, I never have been.

Gift: It's not the discussion that Lisa didn't like, it was the inability to get away from it.

Lisa: You are very energetic and it is exhausting

Gift: Yes but.

Lisa: But in small doses, it's great.

Gift: Exactly, and having someone who thinks it's awesome in small doses is awesome in small doses, these are all the things Lisa built our friendship on. That really is the only advice we can offer. Correct. If you want to be friends with your romantic, ex-boyfriend, girlfriend, ex-spouse, you have to start from scratch. You need to draw a line in the sand and determine all of your data points what will happen forward. Lisa and I did that. And that's not perfect either. She's still mad at me for a party she had to cook 15 years ago. What nonsense is that? Get over it. Forget it.

Lisa: I have a grudge, I nurse my grudge like children

Gift: It is good that you do not have children or pets.

Lisa: Well, Viroj is allergic, we would have pets if it weren't for that.

Gift: You have plants.

Lisa: I have the plants, I have the plants. You always hated my plants. Let's go. There was a fatal mistake.

Gift: Viroj hates your plants.

Lisa: Well, he doesn't hate her as much as you do

Gift: Yes he does, he hates all the more

Lisa: Possibly.

Gift: I'm ready to wear it, I won't get that. Your current husband is not ready to help you with the plants, but I, your ex-husband, are driving 45 minutes around town to help you with your plants, which you just said I hate. Maybe you remember wrong.

Lisa: This is a good point, last time you helped with the plants, yes they need to be moved twice a year

Gift: You're welcome.

Lisa: And I can no longer move it myself. You got too big.

Gift: Do you know what you stole from me recently? A back that doesn't hurt. This plant was easily 400 pounds. I have no doubt that this is a 400 pound plant.

Lisa: I bought the special lifting gear, not only did I ask you to pull it up there, I bought equipment for that purpose.

Gift: You bought a television set.

Lisa: It works out,

Gift: No it doesn't.

Lisa: It worked, the forearm stacker, folks, it kind of works

Gift: My back still hurts.

Lisa: "Really?"

Gift: Yes.

Lisa: Oh, I am sorry.

Gift: You stole my youth.

Lisa: I permanently damaged my shoulder last time. We'll be hiring moving companies next year.

Gift: These plants are fantastic. Lisa, I always like to hang out with you. You think our friendship is better than our marriage, don't you?

Lisa: Oh yeah are you kidding You know, I always find it uncomfortable to say that we had a bad marriage, but we were definitely very unhappy.

Gift: We were unhappy and it ended in a divorce, but you are uncomfortable calling it bad

Lisa: I know I don't.

Gift: If that's not bad. What would you define as good?

Lisa: Oh, good answer, gift, good answer, I don't know, I don't have good answers on these things. I've just always felt uncomfortable when someone specifically says you, when they say we had a bad marriage, and I have no good reason why that is because we obviously had a bad marriage or are still married. Those words always made me uncomfortable. I am not sure why.

Gift: Well Lisa I don't know how it happened, but I am absolutely glad that we are staying BFFs.

Lisa: Me too of course.

Gift: Thank you for being a friend. You're driving your car down the street and back again because we're not walking.

Lisa: (laugh)

Gift: Listen up, everyone. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of Insanity is an asshole and other observationswhich you can of course get on Amazon.com. But if you want to save money on having me sign it, if you want free swag, if you want Not Crazy Podcast Stickers please go to gabehoward.com/merchandise and buy there.

Lisa: And we'll be back next Tuesday.

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