Mackenzie Phillips on Forgiving Her Father After Incestuous Relationship
In the decades following her long-term incestuous relationship with her father, Mackenzie Phillips struggled with forgiving him –and herself.
In her new book, Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction, the 57-year-old writes openly about the abuse and the years-long struggle to forgive her father, who died in 2001.
“Do I think that my father held me in his arms when I was a baby and thought, ‘I’m going to abuse my daughter some day?’ No,” Phillips writes. “I think that a toxic combination of chance and circumstance and drugs and alcohol morphed into something dark and ugly.”
“I don’t hate him,” she said in a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey. “I understand that he was a very tortured man, and he sort of passed that torture down to me.”
Now, Phillips writes, she tries to focus on the present.
“I don’t let my past define me,” she told PEOPLE last July. “Even though I experienced my share of trauma and a very public meltdown, I can hold my head high because my recovery is the best thing I’ve ever done, aside from being a mom.”
This is a powerful statement for Phillips, who was once a drug addict. In Hopeful Healing she admitsthat she used cocaine while pregnant with her son, Shane Barakan, who is now 30 years old.
“Should I apologize to Shane every day for shooting coke while I was pregnant? No. Is that appropriate? Absolutely not. Does he know about it? Yes,” she writes in the book. “So how do I deal with that? I just do better. That’s all anyone can do: just do better.”
Phillips is now a drug rehab counselor at Breathe Life Healing Center.
“I’ve changed my life and think it’s important for people to see you can recover,” said Phillips. “Shame is an illusion.”
Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction is available now.