Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
At her lowest point, Ali says she retreated into a fog of alcoholism and depression. "I [drank] out of total fear," she says. "I learned to drink holding a glass because I thought: 'Now I'm cool. They won't know I'm poor, where we live, all this ridiculous junk.'"
After spending a month at the Betty Ford Center, Ali says she began to make peace with herself. "I've been taking my recovery very seriously for 24 years," she says. "I don't miss the hangovers. I don't miss the lying. I don't miss the self-obsession."
In 1993, Ali made another life-changing decision. After a devastating wildfire burned her Los Angeles home to the ground and destroyed almost all of her belongings, Ali and her pets, which escaped unharmed, left Hollywood behind. "I thought, 'I'm going through this experience for a reason,'" she says. "I know this sounds like Pollyanna, but it's the truth—I felt, 'There's something I'm supposed to be doing because of this.' And it was, for me, getting out of L.A. If you are a big pop star, as I was in an industry, you're defined by, 'Hi, you look great' or 'Are you going to have a facelift?' or 'What are you doing now?' or 'Who are you sleeping with now?' And I wanted my life to be about more than just that micro-job."
Ali moved into a small adobe home in the New Mexico mountains where she now enjoys an intensely private life, works as an animal activist and is an avid student of yoga. "I have this amazing life," she says. "I'm learning how to live in the present and be grateful for what's working rather than look for the 'what's not working' piece."