Ben Affleck is getting candid about his battle with alcoholism and the personal struggles that he’s faced. But he says that his biggest disappointment was getting a divorce from actress Jennifer Garner.
“I never thought I was gonna get divorced. I didn’t want to get divorced. I didn’t wanna be a divorced person. I really didn’t wanna be a split family with my children. And it upset me,” he said during a Good Morning America interview with Diane Sawyer. “It meant I wasn’t who I thought I was. And that was so painful and so disappointing…in myself.”
The 47-year-old actor grew up with a father who, Affleck says, was “drunk every day,” which ultimately led to their family falling apart. “That was really, really painful,” Affleck shared. “And I always said, ‘That’ll never be me. I’m never gonna do that.’”
Affleck eventually started drinking and ended up getting sober in 2001, which put him on track for a couple of years until he decided to start drinking again. “I thought, you know I wanna just drink like a normal person and I want to have wine at dinner and so on. And, you know, I was able to. I was able to for about 8 years and that was fine,” he explained. However, the drinking became so frequent that he was imbibing on a daily basis, from the time he got home from work until he was passed out on the couch.
At this point, Affleck had already started a family with Garner — they share three children, Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11, and Samuel, 7 — and struggled to come to terms with the fact that he was an alcoholic.
“I started to drink more and more and more and it was really hard for me to accept that that meant I was an alcoholic. I was like, ‘I can just go back, I was fine before. I just need to take a break, I just need to slow down. I’m OK. This isn’t me,’” he said.
He then became determined to get better and to be the father that he wants to be during his children’s formative years. “I really don’t want my children to pay for my sins,” he said. “Or to be afraid for me, which is one of the hard parts of being the child of an alcoholic.”
Now, he’s consciously stepping in the right direction by addressing his painful past in order to move forward.
“Divorce is very painful and alcoholism is very painful. They just are. If there’s something that your child is suffering, that’s a level of pain that is just not easily gotten past, not easily forgiven, not easily forgotten. And it’s hard,” Affleck said. “I took the last half of the year off and I just got to be dad. Drive them to school, pick them up. Go to the swim meet…that’s where the parenting happens. It’s in the cracks. It’s in the moments where you’re just taking them back from soccer and they see something profound or they talk about how they’re really feeling about something. And it’s like that’s where you get to be the parent. That’s the joy of it and that’s what I don’t want to miss.”
As for a message to Garner, Affleck told Sawyer all he’d want to say is, “Thank you. Thank you for being thoughtful, considerate, responsible and a great mom and person.”
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