Oprah: I think the statistics show that the second marriage is more likely to fail than the first. But I'm thinking that by the time you're on the third or fourth, you ought to have some sense.

Geena: You tend to keep marrying the same person.

Oprah: So after three, you figure out how not to marry the same person?

Geena: Yes. This is completely different because I've changed. I never would have been attracted to Reza ten years earlier. Back then I felt the value I could bring to a relationship was in profoundly taking care of the other person. You know, I will invest everything in your life and in making you feel great. I was really sucked into that pattern of wanting to fix.

Oprah: How did you change that?

Geena: Reza doesn't need caretaking—and I finally figured out I don't want to give it. Getting to that point took years. I knew I wanted to have self—esteem, and I was going to get it somehow. But you cannot just decide you're going to have self—esteem. And winning an Oscar doesn't help.

Oprah: That's what people don't realize. If you don't have it, it doesn't matter how many square feet your house is. In some ways, having lots of stuff makes it worse.

Geena: Because you look at all you have and think, "It didn't work."

Oprah: The public assumes actors have self—esteem.

Geena: They're like, "My God, what else could they want?" I once read a quote—I think from Michelle Pfeiffer—where she said she thought that perhaps getting millions of people to approve of her would help.

Oprah: But it doesn't. What finally clicked for you?

Geena: There were a few steps along the way, but therapy was an important part of it. Taking a self—defense class was another part. The class motto was something like "Because I deserve it." Like most women, I would fight to the death for my kids, but I couldn't imagine being physically aggressive on my own behalf or protecting my space. The first day of class, we did an exercise where they stood us in a line and had a man approach us. "When you feel he's close enough, stop him," our instructor said. I let the man walk right into me! I was too polite. It was illuminating.

Oprah: So you had no personal boundaries?

Geena: Right. If somebody convinced me they needed attention or help or fixing, I did that.

Oprah: That means you were a people pleaser. You didn't know how to say no without feeling guilty.

Geena: Absolutely.


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