Born Edna Rae Gillooly in 1932, Ellen says her pattern of destructive relationships started with her parents. "My mother was tough and she cared for us. I mean, we always, in her words, had a roof over our head and food on the table," she says. "But she was controlling and violent. So that sets up a certain pattern of punishment and of feeling you're not really worthy, that you're wrong."
Because her parents divorced when she was young, Ellen says she only remembers seeing her father one time when she was away at boarding school. At 19 years old, Ellen says she sought out her father, hoping to establish a relationship with him. "I arrived on his doorstep and ... he didn't consider me a daughter, he considered me a hot babe. So that ended that relationship," she says. "What happens is that you go on trying to look for a father all of your life until the day comes when you realize I have to father myself."