Mackenzie Phillips' Family Secret
"I was like: 'You can't keep living this way. You're going to die,' and he actually said to me, 'Macks.' He called me Macks. 'Get down off your high horse. I know what I'm doing. I'm an old hand at this. This isn't my first rodeo. I'll be fine,'" she says. "And he chose an alcoholic death for himself by never even making a stab at recovery."
While John lay dying in the hospital, Mackenzie says she confronted him once again. "I said to him, 'Dad, we've been through a lot—good, bad, indifferent,'" she says. "He was looking up at me, and I said, 'I would not be the woman I am had I not been your daughter, and I'm very proud of the woman I am, regardless of my past.' I said, 'So I want you to know that I love you, and I forgive you.'"
Mackenzie's dad didn't respond. She says he just sighed and put his head down on the pillow.
When John died in 2001, Mackenzie says she thought she'd feel free…but she was wrong. "I learned that something about my father's existence had helped me to stay clean, helped me to stay well. It was almost like I was flipping him off by staying clean," she says. "And I unraveled."