In her new book, Mackenzie Phillips writes about forgiving her father --and herself -- for their years-long incestuous relationship

By Char Adams
February 09, 2017 08:44 AM
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In the decades following her long-term incestuous relationship with her father, Mackenzie Phillips struggled with forgiving him –and herself.

In her first book, High on Arrival, Phillips revealed that she and her father, The Mamas & the Papas singer John Phillips, had an incestuous relationship for 10 years after he raped her at age 19.

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.

Yvonne Hemsey/Getty

“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.”

Mackenzie Phillips (left) and Shane Barakan
John Shearer/WireImage

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.”