Lisa Ling’s Misery Doesn’t Stop Her From Moving Forward

The feisty journalist opens up about the harrowing challenges of her four-year marriage, including a public miscarriage, and her efforts to raise awareness of women's issues. An edited version of the interview follows.

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
lisa ling wants to kick breast cancer to the curb image
Photograph: P&G Give Hope

More: So, busy lady, how's married life?
Lisa Ling: Married life is great.Certainly it has not been without its challenges, especially when you have two people with very busy schedules come together. We have been working and managing to figure it out. It is wonderful to have someone you respect and who is a real friend.

More: What obstacles have you faced?
LL: Let’s see…my sister got abducted by North Korean border guards and was incarcerated for five months. That was after our first year of marriage. Right after that my husband’s father died of kidney cancer and his mom was in a massive car accident. Then right after that I suffered a miscarriage. That is what our marriage has been beset with in only four years.

More: Yikes. And back in December 2010, you went public with some personal news you just made reference to—that you had suffered a miscarriage. Did sharing your story help you heal? 
LL: It did, actually. When it happened to me I felt so alone. But the more I started telling people, the more I realized how pervasive it is—I did not know how many of my friends had had a miscarriage. That is why I helped start a Web site called Secret Society of Women. It is a community where women can find one another and talk about things like having a miscarriage, their marriage, diet, family or whatever is on their minds. There are things that women hold inside them, and we want for them to know they have a support center they can turn to.

More: You once stated you blame yourself for losing the baby.
LL: I think it is what most women do. You start thinking: Did I drink too much coffee? Was I too active? Did I not eat enough? I am a person who is used to being in control of her life, so to me, the loss represented failure.

More: Are you scared to try again?
LL: It is definitely scary. Especially when you aren’t successful, it is difficult to try again. We are going to try. But I am lucky because adoption for my husband is a very important possibility. I have spent a great deal of my life in underprivileged areas around the world and have always loved the idea of saving a child, and I feel so blessed my husband feels the same way. I know we will. We both have so many great experiences we would love to share with either a biological or an adopted child.

More: On the subject of drama, your younger sister Laura was detained by North Korea for illegal entry into the country and sentenced to 12 years in a labor prison. Thanks to the help of President Clinton she was released back on August 4, 2009. How has she been doing since that horrible ordeal?
LL: She is just doing great, and she had a baby about a year and a half ago who is the light of our lives. When we look at her we feel so grateful that she exists. There were many moments when because of my sister’s captivity we thought she would never have a child.

More: Was it upsetting that she had a baby and you didn’t?
LL: Not at all. Not one bit. In fact, it made me want to have one even more. To have a little buddy would be great.

More: Did the incident in North Korea have an impact on your relationship with your sister?
LL: I honestly don’t know two sisters who are closer than my sister and I—twins included. We have always been that way. We went through so much as kids, and because of that we have this unbreakable bond. When she was in captivity I became a beast and my only goal was to get her out—there was nothing I wouldn’t do to get her freed.

More: You wrote a book about that experience?
LL: We did called Somewhere Inside. Although we wrote about that experience, we also focused on the bond of sisterhood and how our relationship evolved.

First Published October 7, 2011

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