Actress, comedian and autism activist Jenny McCarthy has never been shy about sharing her private life with the public. Still, those following the actress' five-year relationship with boyfriend Jim Carrey were shocked and saddened by a pair of tweets in April 2010.
Jenny tweeted: "I'm so grateful for the years Jim and I had together. I will stay committed to Jane [Jim's daughter from his first marriage] and will always keep Jim as a leading man in my heart."
At about the same time, Jim's followers received this message: "Jenny and I have just ended our 5yr relationship. I'm grateful 4 the many blessings we've shared and I wish her the very best! S'okay!"
Now, Jenny's joining Oprah to talk about their breakup for the very first time—and revealing why she's documenting her love lessons in a racy new book, Love, Lust and Faking It.
Jenny says the relationship ended weeks before she and Jim tweeted about it—and shares an inside scoop about Hollywood breakups. "Usually when people find out about [a celebrity breakup] in the media, it happened way earlier," she says. "Thank God, though. Because no matter who does the breaking up or who gets dumped, your heart still needs to mend. You still need to grieve the loss of a relationship."
In fact, Jenny says she and Jim called it quits "some weeks" before their tweets. "We really had some time to kind of go back into ourselves, heal a little bit," she says. "What usually winds up happening with celebrities [is] we get a call that says: 'It's leaked. It's going to come out in a major way tomorrow in one of the magazines.' So we decided to make the choice of [announcing] it on our own terms."
Since the breakup, Jenny says she's feeling better than ever. "That's what usually happens when you go through some type of a big crossroad," she says.
Before the breakup, Jenny and Jim spoke openly about their love for one another. Now that it's over, Jenny says she has no regrets. "Those moments where you saw us together, was it love? You're damned right it was," she says. "The problem is there wasn't a photographer when the times were rough."
Despite being deeply in love with Jim, Jenny says her gut warned her they wouldn't be together forever. "I would say I maybe had a little bit of an internal knowing because I kept my house. I never sold it when I did move in [to Jim's house]," she says.
Jenny says two major signs helped her realize the relationship had run its course. "When it's not fun anymore, you need to start investigating and do an inquiry into the relationship," she says. "You usually see fights happening a little bit more frequently."
Jenny likens the last days of a relationship to an hourglass. "The sands were coming through, and toward the end I just kind of noticed they were almost done and each [grain] was a lesson," she says. "All those lessons were being learned, and after the final one dropped, I looked at him like a teacher and kind of knew. And he did too."
Jenny says it was important to leave the relationship in the best shape possible. "You can honor the timing of that, or you can stay in a relationship that doesn't work for 30 years," she says. "I listened to my emotional guidance system."
Despite their connection, Jenny says she doesn't think she and Jim will ever get back together. "No," she says. "I definitely feel like—and I have that image of the sands in the hourglass—the lessons were learned."
One thing Jenny didn't do after her breakup was place blame. "If I went and blamed him, I miss the lesson," she says.
A simple exercise helped Jenny learn what she needed to from the breakup. "I actually wrote down a list of all the things that I would say were blame," she says. "[I wrote], 'He did that.' And then I crossed off 'he' and I put the word 'I,' and then I reread them and I was, like, 'Oh my God.' I found my participation also and really used those as life lessons."
Jenny says the most important lesson she learned was that she didn't need a lover to have love in her life. "I came out of it going, 'I am the love of my life,'" she says. "Now everybody that comes into my life is just whipped cream, but I come in as the full sundae."
Jenny says Jim also gave her a priceless gift. "During those autism years when he stood by me—and I'm so grateful for—he taught me how to cry and release," she says. "I came from the South Side of Chicago, and we're tough. We don't cry, you know? And he would literally teach me how to get things out, and I'd become such a lighter, not-so-angry warrior due to that release."
Jenny says she also had to confront some unflattering sides of herself after the breakup. "I went to a therapist once, and she said, 'You know you're a master manipulator?'" she says. "[I said]: 'What are you talking about? I am the nicest girlfriend a guy could ever have.'''
Jenny started studying manipulation and says some women take two approaches to getting what they want—the silent treatment and guilt. "Then I became awake to it, and that's when everything changed."
Jenny says she also learned she to stop faking it—and she doesn't mean in the bedroom. "Everyone talks about that two-year honeymoon period. ... [The guy asks], 'You like football season?' You're like, 'I love football season!'" she says. "Then [you're annoyed when you're in the relationship] and you're like, 'Turn on Dancing with the Stars!"
Going forward, Jenny says she's entering relationships as her authentic self. "All you have to do is just wake yourself up to when you're doing it," she says. "When he says, 'Do you like football season?' I go, 'No, I don't.'"
During their time together, Jim formed a close relationship with Jenny's son, Evan. When they broke up, Jenny says she handled her 8-year-old with special care. "To me, he was number one," she says.
Because Jenny never sold her house, she says there wasn't a big adjustment in their living situation. "Evan was homeschooled there, and so he went there every day," she says. "There was a little bit of a safety net there."
Jenny says the biggest challenge was deciding what to say to Evan. "I'm really big on being really honest and truthful, and I just said, 'We are still going to love Jimmy with all of our hearts, but we're going to stay in this house while he's in that house and still have love hearts for one another,'" she says. "He seemed to really like that and was able to move forward."
Now single, Jenny says she's dating but is taking one step at a time. "There is a guy that I like—and I will call it exclusive because I don't like to jump around too much—but he's very sweet," she says. "There's a precious cargo at stake named Evan, and so that's why I'm calling it 'diet dating' until I know that it's going to the next level or the sands of the hourglass [are] showing. And right now I'm just in the present moment of enjoying his company immensely."
When she considers her future, Jenny says she envisions sharing her life with someone—but isn't set on having another ring on her finger. "I [visualize having] a big awesome, hunky lover. I don't know if he's living with me, but I do know I'm in love and not necessarily married," she says. "But if I met someone that hadn't done it before and wants to do it, I would be open to it. Never say never."
Above all, Jenny dreams of being content. "I see a wise old Jenny."