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Mackenzie Phillips on Forgiving Her Father After Incestuous Abuse – and Her Relationship with Her Son

Mackenzie Phillips on Forgiving Her Father After Incestuous Abuse – and Her Relationship with Her Son

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.

“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.”

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She adds: “I don’t think that what he did was his intention; I don’t think that he planned to do what he did, and I think that I can see him as a deeply flawed human being in light of all this.”

The mother of one admits that she has often had “little moments” in which she has dwelled on the abuse, but “I’ve learned to give myself a wry inner smile and say, ‘Yep, that’s me, and that’s okay.’ ”

Now, Phillips writes, she tries to focus on the present.

“At a certain point, you realize you’ve done the deed – you’re practicing self-forgiveness,” she writes. “It’s either that or choosing to be perpetually stuck in the past. And you know it’s better to be in the now.”

Phillips, a former drug addict herself, also reflects on her relationship with her 30-year-old son Shane Barakan, admitting that she used cocaine while pregnant with him.

“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. Acknowledge, discuss, move on. Then you use love to heal that place — that broken place.”

Phillips is now a drug rehab counselor at Breathe Life Healing Center.

Hopeful Healing: Essays on Managing Recovery and Surviving Addiction is available now.