After 20 years of marriage and the birth of their son, Wolfgang, Valerie and Eddie separated in October 2001 and divorced in 2007. "One of the many reasons that Ed and I split up is to give Wolfie a better vision of what two people who are supposedly in love treat each other like. Ed and I weren't treating each other like two people that loved each other, and that's what Wolfie was seeing," Valerie says. "So I'm hoping that when he does get married and start a life for himself, that he takes his time and marries a friend and not just someone that he can't keep his hands off."
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."