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Lisa Hochstein is finding her way back to happiness amid her split from her husband of 13 years, Dr. Lenny Hochstein.
"I want to be happy again," the Real Housewives of Miami star confesses to ET over video chat. "Not that I'm so sad. I have, like, bits and pieces of happiness. It goes in waves, but ultimately I want to be in a long-term relationship. I would love to get married again."
"I just want to be standing on my own two feet and look back at this and not be angry about it," she says. Helping her get through the heartbreak is some new love; Lisa's been spotted out and about with entrepreneur Jody Glidden in recent months, but has yet to confirm their romance until now.
"I guess it's sort of out of the bag," she cracks. "Yeah, I'm dating. I'm dating this guy. He's a great guy. He's been super supportive of me... you may or may not see him at the [RHOM season 5] reunion, but I don't wanna dive into that too much. We'll just see how that unfolds."
What she will divulge is that Jody is "different to what I'm used to," as in with her ex. "[He] has empathy, he cares," she lists, "wants to motivate me to do better, be my best. So, it's a lot of things that I'm not used to dealing with, or used to having from my previous relationship."
Lisa's still picking up the pieces of that relationship, which ended abruptly while RHOM cameras rolled on season 5. The season finale streams Thursday on Peacock.
"It's out there, there's nothing I can do about it," she reflects. "I'm not excited about everything that happened. Obviously I wish it didn't go down like that. But it did, and it's real life."
"This was the darkest time of my life," she admits. "Compare it to a death, or worse; probably worse. A lot of people do say that it's almost worse than a death, depending on how amicable or not your divorce is, and mine is definitely not amicable at this point."
Lisa says she sees "no end in sight" for her impending court battle with Lenny. News of their split broke last May, after Lenny was spotted out with his new girlfriend, Katharina Mazepa. Lisa has joked she's getting divorced from two people, given how much Katharina's involved herself. For instance, a judge dismissed a restraining order she obtained against the reality star.
"I don't know if I want to give this individual any more attention, because it seems as though that's what she wants," Lisa offers. "So I'd rather not talk about her, or that person... whoever that person may be."
As for Lenny, Lisa has a lot of thoughts on the father of her two children, Logan, 7, and Elle, 3.
"I almost felt like I was sleeping with the enemy, for... I don't know how long," she laments. She still describes the divorce as a "blindside," despite hints at Lenny's unhappiness caught by RHOM producers and edited into episodes.
"Look, a couple of weeks before [he asked for a divorce], we had a dinner off-camera with some some friends, and he was asking me for a whole new baby!" she reveals. "He was asking me for a third child, so I certainly didn't think that I was headed for divorce, because how does that work? You're asking for a new for an addition to the family, but yet you want a divorce two weeks later?"
That said, watching the show this season has revealed things to her about her estranged husband that she never took notice of in the moment.
"Watching it back and seeing Lenny's dismissiveness of me, even before he dropped the bomb about divorce, was very upsetting for me to watch," she shares. "Watching it back on TV, and seeing him give me that glaring look? ... It's just gross like, how could you look at me while being on camera and being aware that you're on camera and give me these looks? I don't know. Maybe he thought that the cameras aren't catching every angle? But there's literally three cameramen there, catching all of our our faces and reactions."
Lenny also seemed to be under the impression that whispering would make private confessions inaudible to the show's editors. That wasn't the case, though, with a "hot mic moment," in which he confided in a friend about wanting out of his marriage to be with the woman "I actually care about," becoming a central focus of the season.
"That's the craziest thing," Lisa admits. "I don't know how he could think that that wouldn't get caught. But he did, and it's out there. And that was a surprise to me; I found out about that moment the day-of, the day I got that episode."
"It kind of put all the pieces together and made everything kind of crystal clear," she adds. "I thought it was paranoia. I thought I was just being paranoid about certain things that happened leading up to that moment, and it turns out it wasn't. You know, that hot-mic movement proved it."
When The Real Housewives of Miami returned for season 4, Lisa opened up about an emotional affair Lenny had while the show was on its eight-year hiatus. Now, she questions whether that was the only one, suspecting much worse went down behind her back.
"I have had a lot of people -- true or not, I don't know -- but a lot of people have come forward with some kind of evidence, or just things that they saw in regards to Lenny and other women, and his behavior after this all unfolded," she says. "And there's also things that I didn't approve of, and I kind of thought I was being paranoid, or I was being 'the crazy wife.' But it it turns out I wasn't."
One of those worries was Lenny's interest in hosting parties that catered to a younger, sexed-up crowd. Lisa went along with it, logic that got turned against her by Lenny's mother, Marina, on the most recent episode. After being Lisa's biggest support system in the aftershocks of the divorce, Marina jumped back to her son's side, calling Lisa out for allowing him to be around a buffet of lingerie-clad women. She also accused Lisa of giving Lenny ample opportunity to cheat, leaving for girls' trips over long weekends.
"What blame do I accept? Well, you know nobody's perfect," Lisa remarks. "Marriages are hard. It takes two people to work at it, and we've been together for 15 years. That's a very long time, especially by Miami standards. Could I have, you know, been more attentive to him in the last few years? Sure. Could he have done the same to me? Of course! It was the two of us drifting apart, and then drifting back together, and there's definitely some things that I could have changed."
Lenny's described the situation as Lisa got to live the life of her dreams, while he was her "servant," providing for the family and stuck at home while she enjoyed South Florida's socialite scene.
"I think that is completely inaccurate," Lisa fires back. "My entire relationship with Lenny, I've always tried to please him and be the best wife I could. We signed up for the show 10 or 11 years ago, with the understanding that I would help promote his business and that's what I did for the last 15 years. I've tirelessly promoted and helped him promote the business. I've helped build and brand that business, and I felt that we were a team. So, I really wasn't focusing on my own businesses and my own career. It was really, I thought, this was benefiting both of us. And now, here we are divorcing, and now I'm really just fighting for what I worked for. I'm fighting for what I helped him achieve."
Lisa won't go so far as to say Lenny resented the show coming back into their lives, but she does say he believed "he didn't really need the help of the show" anymore.
"But the show really did help our business," she notes. "It was a great commercial. Yeah, he's one of the biggest plastic surgeons in the world, and I think a lot of that has to do with the show."
Lisa won't get into what exactly she's fighting for financially, but she is still living in their Star Island mansion worth a reported $52 million.
"I can't get into this too much, because we are in litigation and I am not sure what I can-- I don't want to say anything I am not supposed to, but we are really nowhere," she admits. "Nothing has been resolved, we haven't been before a judge. We are waiting to see a judge."
Lisa says coming to an agreement "really depends on both of us ... but right now, there's really no end in sight." She describes their communication as "not great," saying it's "gone from bad to worse" the longer the divorce has drawn out.
"It's just been so long," she notes. "I think that we're both so frustrated, especially him. You know, he wants to be back in this house, and he wants to be back, maybe having his parties, or I don't know what, but he's getting more and more anxious and frustrated, as am I, each day that goes on."
Complicating matters is the fact that some tabloids have obtained legal motions filed in the divorce, turning their contents into headlines that only disrupt the case.
"This is not fun," she says. "Our dirty laundry is just aired for everyone to see. I have no idea how people are getting these motions, but somebody is leaking them, or someone is getting them and that's very disturbing, so we can't really keep this private."
One report revealed allegations Lenny made about feeling as if Lisa was "alienating" him from their kids. She calls that "absolutely not true."
"If anything, I encourage their father to be around them," she offers. "He's here almost every other day. I never try to stop him from coming over. He comes over always unannounced. I have no idea if he is going to be here when I show up. I don't know if he is going to be in this bedroom where I sleep. He has his own living space, his own rental, and I have never tried to alienate my kids."
Lisa says she tries not to involve the kids in the split, but some things are impossible. Elle's picked up on the fact that Mommy and Daddy no longer get along.
"If she sees Lenny walk in, and she sees me in the same room, she'll ask us to hug," Lisa shares, "so it's kind of like, she understands that we're not communicating, or acknowledging each other in a room. So that's interesting, that a 3-year-old would would notice that."
"It just gets really awkward," she continues. "We just kind of smile at each other. But, we typically don't hug."
"Hopefully, one day, maybe Lenny and I could be amicable and co-parent amicably," she wishes. "I think that would benefit the kids. The most important thing to me is that the kids thrive, you know? We have to be together for the rest of our lives. We have to know each other for the rest of our lives because of the kids. So it's just in the best interest of both of us to try to like work this out and not keep having the press weigh in, and people weigh in on this messy, ugly divorce."
As she fights for her future, Lisa is readying what she calls "Lisa 2.0."
"There's a lot of conversations, there's a lot of things in the works," she teases, "but you're gonna have to tune into next season to see all of the things I'm working on. But this is going to be Lisa 2.0, and instead of promoting Lenny for the last 15 years, I'm going to be promoting myself. Finally."
Before then, there's a little of season 5 left to watch, including the reunion.
"It was very long, there was a lot of yelling," Lisa recalls of the all-cast sit-down taped in January. "It was hard to get a word in, Andy [Cohen] was super frustrated. He had to intercept so many on so many occasions during that day, because no one would let anyone else talk."
"This one was really bad," she continues. "You know, after filming ended and the last nine months, that was difficult, because no one really knew about these things, and there was a lot of focus on that. And that's hard to relive and talk about. There's things that I don't want out there, but it's too late. Like, people get a hold of these things, and I have to address them."
Lisa says her biggest lesson learned from this last year is "to not really trust anyone."
"This is the darkest time in my life, and there's a lot of sadness that came with this season," she says. "I am hopeful that next season will bring a lot of joy and light, and the viewers can come along for this journey with me and see how I get to the other side -- and I hope that the other side is amazing."
The Real Housewives of Miami streams on Peacock, with new episodes debuting on Thursdays.
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