How Andie MacDowell Overcame Her 'Crazy' Childhood with Alcoholic Mom

In her four decades as an actress, model and mother Andie MacDowell has learned many life lessons but says one of the most valuable things she has realized over the years is the importance of forgiveness.

As a young girl in Gaffney, S.C., MacDowell lived with her mother, Pauline Johnston, a music teacher, who divorced MacDowell’s father when the actress was 7. Johnston struggled with alcoholism and often wasn’t there for her daughter but MacDowell tells PEOPLE in the new issue, “she always loved me.” The actress says she doesn’t harbor any resentment.

“I don’t have a lot of anger,” she says of her mother, who died of a heart attack when MacDowell was 23. “I have a lot of compassion. Poor thing. It’s an awful disease.”

For more on Andie MacDowell pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on stands Friday.

Lambertz Monday Schoko Night 2018 in Cologne, Germany - 29 Jan 2018

MacDowell was able to overcome her unstable childhood and moved to New York where she became a model and worked with Calvin Klein and L’Oréal Paris before setting her sights on an acting career. “At that time it was shunned to try to do both,” she says. The gambit paid off and she became a huge star with roles in Sex, Lies, and Videotape, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Green Card.

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Next up, MacDowell, who turns 60 on April 21, can be seen in the film Love After Love and the Hallmark Channel movie The Beach House, airing April 28. Off-camera, she loves hiking, yoga and spending time with her three kids Justin, 31, Rainey, 28, and Margaret, 23, with model ex-husband Paul Qualley.

And although she admits her childhood at times was “crazy” she adds it was also filled with love.

“I felt loved so that was the saving grace,” she says. “There were good things. There were a lot of good memories too.”

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