At age 36, you were a working Hollywood screenwriter with a summer movie coming out, and a few weeks before the premiere, you walked away from your life. What happened?
With a movie coming out, you’d think I would’ve been happy, right? Nope. I was miserable, in a bad marriage, drinking way too much and weighing 265 pounds. I was spiraling out of control…and a few weeks before the premiere, I hit rock bottom. It was a Saturday and my husband and I had gotten into a huge fight, which we did often, and we spent the day arguing and breaking stuff. Real mature, right? By the evening, we weren’t speaking. He was locked in the bedroom, and I was in the living room sitting on the floor in silence. Exhausted. I went to get a drink, my favorite escape at the time. I just wanted to disappear.
Did you have an epiphany? A wake-up call?
I remember passing the living-room mirror. I caught my reflection, and I stopped and stared at myself. It was the strangest moment. I didn’t recognize the woman looking back at me. It was like I didn’t know her. I was staring at this very lonely, sad-looking, obese woman. And I thought, What happened to you?
In that moment, I knew if I didn’t change my life right then, I was in real trouble. Four days later, I told my husband I was going to the post office and walked away from my life. Everything.
Where’d you go?
At first, I crashed at a friend’s house in Los Angeles. I needed to figure out how to fix my life. Then I moved up to Northern California, where my sister lived, to get healthy. It took me about a year and half to lose 50 pounds. Then, I was randomly introduced to a life coach in New York City named Lauren Zander. She’s the cofounder of Handel Group. From opposite coasts, we started coaching together and everything changed. I got divorced, lost 80 more pounds, dealt with all my issues and cleaned up every mistake in my life. I was happy, a size 4 and, literally, a new person on the inside and out. I would go to LA for meetings and people wouldn’t recognize me. And guys who used to ignore me were now flirting with me and asking me out. It was strange.
Sounds like you did some extraordinary personal work. What would you say was the key to sustaining the new you?
Well, I was ready to start over. And Lauren was an instigator. Every time we’d talk, she’d say, “Come to NYC and hangout with me and my friends.” So, I did. I moved to New York, dove back into my career and started to rebuild my life. Lauren connected me with an amazing group of friends who were supportive and looked out for me. Having a support network of people around me was tremendous. The trust, the love, the power of letting people help me was huge for me. Everything was awesome except…something was still missing. I mean I cleaned up everything in my life, felt amazing and looked the best I’ve ever looked. And I had warriors around me, but I still felt empty. Like something was wrong. I couldn’t pinpoint it.
Were you dating?
At the time, I was. I had jumped back in the dating scene and wasn’t having much luck. I even had a dating coach for a short time who fired me, because she said I wasn’t serious about finding love. And she was right. I wasn’t. Truthfully, deep down, I didn’t really believe in love. I grew up in a strict Catholic family, and there were real opinions on love, relationships and what was right and wrong. It was all about what the Catholic Church thought. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school, a Jesuit college and spent my teen years, twenties and thirties trying to be who I thought everyone wanted me to be. I dated lots of different men and eventually got married at age 30, not because I was in love, but because that was what you did. That’s what I was taught.
After a while of unsuccessfully dating in NYC, I decided, I didn’t want love, but instead, I would just find a Mr. Saturday Night to have dinner with and hook up with once a week. I did that for a short while and got bored. I came to the conclusion that some people were meant to find love and others weren’t.
Do you think it was you or the men you were dating?
Funny you should say that. One day about a year and half ago, I was talking to Lauren on the phone, and I was bummed, lost and unhappy. She said to me, “I think that what’s happening with you, Katie, is that maybe you’re gay.”
Now, when she was coaching me, we had discussed my sexuality a bit, but I always would say, “I’m not gay. I like men!” Whenever I would discuss my sexuality with anyone, that was my line. But this time I didn’t say that. I thought about what she had said. A few times in my life I had questioned my sexuality, but l would always tell myself I like men. I’m straight. I mean, when I was young no one discussed sexuality with me or even what it was. Being gay wasn’t an option. It was wrong. You didn’t go there. End of conversation.
But this time, I didn’t give my normal comeback. Instead, I responded, “I think you’re right. I think maybe I am gay.” The words just flew out of my mouth. As soon as I said them, I felt a shift in my body. It was like this huge weight had left me. And the emptiness I had felt for so long was gone. For the first time in my life, I felt normal, like everything was going to be okay.
So you realize you’re gay, now what?
Well, whenever I figure something out about myself, I typically just go for it. The next day, I switched my Tinder account from looking for men to looking for women. A month later I met Kerri on Tinder. We fell madly in love immediately. She was my first date with a woman. We’ve been together ever since. She moved in with me this past Thanksgiving, and I’ve never been happier.
I spent years overweight and with a wall around me, feeling like something was missing or wrong with me. The only thing that was wrong was that I was afraid to be me.
Your story is in Lauren Zander’s new coaching book, “Maybe It’s You,” which is being published in April. Tell me a little about that.
I am! “Maybe It’s You” is being released April 4, 2017. It’s exciting. My weight loss and coming-out story are in the book. You can follow all the exercises I did and see the steps I took to change my life. It’s a great book. Her method works. It changed everything for me. You can preorder “Maybe It’s You”now. It’s brilliant.
You’re writing a book too, right?
Yes. It’s called “Just Breathe.” I’m currently rewriting it now and adapting it into a screenplay. I want people out there who may be struggling with their weight or sexuality to know that they are not alone. I’ve been there. And if you want to change your life and find true happiness, it’s possible. I promise.
Katie Torpey is an award-winning screenwriter/filmmaker with an MFA from UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She has sold several screenplays, written for television and worked for numerous studios and networks. She co-created “Mother Up!” a Hulu original animated TV series about motherhood, starring Eva Longoria. It was one of Hulu’s first TV shows and premiered in 2013–14. She wrote and directed the independent film “Truth About Kerry” shot in Ireland, starring Stana Katic (Castle) and released in April 2012. Her original screenplay “The Perfect Man” was released in theaters in 2005, starring Hilary Duff, Heather Locklear and Chris Noth. The following year, her romantic comedy “On the Other Side,” hit theaters in Bollywood. Her latest screenplay, “Spaghetti Park,”is in preproduction, and she is currently adapting her memoir, “Just Breathe,” into a screenplay. In January 2017, Katie launched her own production company, Your Story Productions, a Film, Television, and Digital Media Company, that focuses on helping writers to discover and write their stories, creating content that entertains and makes a difference. She has several projects in development.
For more information on Katie or to learn about her online screenwriting product “Write a Screenplay in 40 Days,” connect with Katie on Here: