Emma Forrest on sex, celibacy and solitude

Who hasn’t looked at those things you should have done by the time you’re 30/40/50/whatever lists and rolled their eyes? And yet consciously or not many of us still live our lives according to those timelines. 

But what does middle age feel like if you’ve been acing those lists since you were 16 - and then suddenly you’re not?

Today’s guest Emma Forrest was an early achiever. She had a newspaper column by the age of 16, had written three novels by 30 and then moved to Hollywood and became a screenwriter. There, she seemingly “had it all” - Big job, famous husband, fabulous house, beautiful daughter.

And then she didn’t. 

So How does it feel to be hitting 40 and walking away from the dream? Swapping An LA mansion for an attic flat in north London. And A glamorous marriage for a relationship with yourself. Someone who, by Emma’s own admission, she thought she might never get to see again.

Emma joined me to talk about her new memoir Busy Being Free and how she freed herself from a lifelong obsession with romantic attachment. We discuss how Trump contributed to her decision to step away from sex post-divorce (sorry, you’ll never unsee that!), rediscovering yourself in your 40s, why women who choose to be alone unnerve people, off-loading the “female factory reset” of gratitude and what an Enfant Terrible looks like at 45.

CW: I should warn you there’s also discussion of eating disorders, cutting and suicide.

* You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at Bookshop.org, including Busy Being Free by Emma Forrest and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me!

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The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

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