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When Gabrielle Union titled the followup to her first memoir, You Got Anything Stronger? the actress and author gave us a hint that we weren’t quite ready for the level of vulnerability we’d find within the pages of the book just four years after she told us We’re Going to Need More Wine.

“With the first book there were a lot of chapters I left out because I knew I wasn’t ready to face the public and have meaningful, impactful conversations about those chapters,” Union tells ESSENCE. “With this book I needed to be ready. If I was going to put it in there, if I’m going to really stand in my truth, I need to be emotionally, spiritually, financially prepared for what may come and all of the possibilities.”

One of the chapters in the new memoir we, like many media outlets, were struck by was the first (Loved Even As a Thought) in which Union addresses the son her now-husband, Dwyane Wade, had with another woman in 2013 while they were separated. She writes: “The me of today would not have stayed with him, but would I be who I am now without that pain? That fiery explosion that created life and light? The advice I would give myself now would be to leave. ‘You don’t have to do this. You don’t think you have an option, but you do. Save yourself.'”

Asked what made her write those words, Union tells us simply, “It’s the truth.”

“Who I am, the healing that I’ve fought for, the peace that I have fought for — I wouldn’t, I just wouldn’t. That’s not what happened, but there is wisdom from perspective, and time, and therapy, and personal evolution, and accountability that changes things. One of the things I learned about giving advice is don’t take advice from anyone about anything that they haven’t succeeded at,” she says.

Expounding on that thought, the 48 year old who’s been married to Wade since 2014 and divorced her first husband, Chris Howard, after five years of marriage in 2006, adds lightheartedly, “If you’re going to ask me — a divorced woman who’s had a gang of relationship challenges — what you should do in a relationship, you’ve already failed. I could give you my coulda, woulda, shoulda, but at the end of the day I didn’t. So be careful who and when you ask for advice about what to do in the moment.”

Watch our full interview with Union as she talks about her new book, performative mothering and choosing herself in the video above.

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