Leaving Eddie wasn't an easy choice, and Valerie says it took years for her to come to grips with the idea. "We were all very raw from 9/11, and you heard all these stories of people coming together. They hated each other and they were back together and divorces weren't happening anymore," Valerie says. "And I'm like, 'Am I the only one in the world that wants out now because of 9/11? I'm not going to live my life if it's that tenuous. That's not how I want to live my life anymore.'"
Still, Valerie says she hit her own rock bottom after the divorce. For comfort, Valerie turned to food—jalepeño poppers were her drug of choice. "They were my Prozac," she says. "Those were some of the darkest days of my life, and I was eating my way through them. I became a hermit."