Drew Barrymore’s New York Mag profile is so good & also kind of heartbreaking

Drew Barrymore covers the latest issue of New York Magazine, and this profile is a total fever dream. Drew is… Drew. At this point, I feel like people know what they’re getting, for better or for worse. She’s not someone who secretly has a completely different personality off-camera. She’s the same enthusiastic, dorky work-in-progress as always, just with more therapy and wisdom these days. Drew is also riding high with her daytime talk show, which is why she’s on the cover of New York. The show is filmed in New York, and she lives in the city now with her two daughters, and she’s still close to her (third) ex-husband and his family. This profile is about how Drew didn’t have to change, she just stayed true to herself and people eventually started watching her talk show. It helps that she has a world-class social media team, and that she started booking guests who were willing to really talk about their own troubled histories (because Drew will sit there and be like “me too, girl”). Anyway, the profile is chaotic and messy but also very Drew. Some highlights:

Active love: Her longtime therapist Barry Michels would call this “active love.” With his colleague Phil Stutz, Michels is a practitioner of what they call “the tools,” a fusion of Jungian psychiatry and self-help. (It’s very popular in Hollywood.) In so many ways, the emotional structure of The Drew Barrymore Show, which is to say, how Drew Barrymore thinks and feels, manifests these precepts. Active love, a technique used to shove negativity out of the mind, goes something like this: “Imagine you’re in a universe completely made out of love. It’s a world that’s almost dense with loving energy. Feel yourself taking in all the love in the universe and gently but firmly place it all in your heart. Right at that moment, you’re the principal leader of love in the whole universe.”

She actually sets non-negotiable rules for her daughters: “Like, ‘Can’t do anything else until homework is finished.’ Just consistency. Homework, dinner, bath. It took me so long to learn the simplicity of how to say ‘no’ because growing up, I didn’t know how comforting and safe that is.”

Her three marriages: “In my early 30s, I realized I didn’t have any relationships that could have gone to the next level, a.k.a. marriage and kids,” she says. At 37, she married Kopelman, an art consultant and son of the former president of Chanel. She sold her house in L.A. and moved to New York so they could be closer to her husband’s family. “I think that’s why I took the marriage so hard. Because I was the best I could have ever been.”

The third divorce: She was drinking to numb the pain, and Michels (her therapist) broke up with her because she was stuck in an endless rut. She doesn’t want to elaborate because the fact that there has been no public scandal around the divorce is something she’s proud of. But she stopped drinking for two years, which convinced Michels to take her back. “Then the pandemic happened, and I was like, Thank God I got my sh-t together. Because I am the strongest I’ve ever been. Then we were building the show, and it was hard, challenging, scary, emotional, exhausting, and overwhelming, but I could handle it. Which was so great because the divorce convinced me I couldn’t handle things.”

The Drew Barrymore Show: “We have been told we were DOA — dead on arrival — almost every year by higher-ups. The show spoke to us odd birds, but it wasn’t necessarily speaking to a commercial audience. I knew we weren’t reaching our potential in year one. It was a public-access show on premium television.”

Her father, John Drew Barrymore, was an abusive drunk: “Talk about someone who was not a careerist. He was like, ‘I will burn this f–king dynasty to the ground.’” As she grew older, her attitude toward her father softened. “I just understood what an incapable human being he was,” she says. When he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, she paid for his hospice care until he died in 2004. Then she spread his ashes around Joshua Tree. Meanwhile, she and her mother have never fully reconciled since she left the house at 14, though Barrymore still supports her financially. “I know that must be so hard for my mom. It’s like she gets all the heartache and he gets given a free ticket.”

Moving on even though her mom is still alive: “All their moms are gone, and my mom’s not. And I’m like, Well, I don’t have that luxury. But I cannot wait. I don’t want to live in a state where I wish someone to be gone sooner than they’re meant to be so I can grow. I actually want her to be happy and thrive and be healthy. But I have to f–king grow in spite of her being on this planet.” An hour after the words leave her mouth, she already regrets suggesting any ill will toward her mom. “I dared to say it, and I didn’t feel good. I do care. I’ll never not care. I don’t know if I’ve ever known how to fully guard, close off, not feel, build the wall up.”

Her love life nowadays: “I spent a lot of my life loving romance and drama and all of that. I just burnt myself out on it. I genuinely am tired and exhausted…. I’m curious to examine why I’m not open to a relationship. I really think I have some serious sh-t buried. And I don’t know if it’s like I need to try an MDMA treatment or psilocybin as a way to get to some state where I could see things in a different way.”

But still, the rest of her life is going well: Her makeup & furniture lines are selling out and “I want to be cereal and toilet paper and underwear, just commonly used things that don’t make you angry and bring us all together.”

[From Vulture]

There were several gut-punches in this piece, but this one hurt: “I think that’s why I took the marriage so hard. Because I was the best I could have ever been.” This is why she’s a successful talk show host though – because that’s the kind of statement which brings people to tears and you want to curl up with her and hash it out. I do think that’s how she experienced her third marriage too – she tried, she attempted to be who she thought she needed to be, someone with her sh-t together, a mother, a supportive wife, someone who didn’t need to put self-help quotes on post-its in her closet. But even though she tried to be that person, it still didn’t work out. This one also hits hard: “I have to f–king grow in spite of her being on this planet.” It took her decades of therapy to say that and she immediately regretted it. For what it’s worth, Drew has come out this week to say that she’s not wishing her mother would die. I interpreted her comment as more like “I’m not going to be in stasis just because my mother is still alive.”

Cover & IG courtesy of New York Mag.

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43 Responses to “Drew Barrymore’s New York Mag profile is so good & also kind of heartbreaking”

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  1. HeyKay says:

    Drew. 👍 I give her so much credit for how she pulled herself out of her horrid childhood.

    I also saw a picture of Mac Culkin, Brenda Song and their 2 young boys this AM.

    We all know their childhood histories.
    I am so glad both are still with us and going forward.

  2. Mindy_DeLaCalle says:

    So it never goes away, huh? After having my son two years ago, I understood where my sister’s aggression and issues with my mom on a much deeper level. Something about becoming a parent makes you face all the issues you had with your mother on another level. We live away, we have one phone call after weeks of no communication and that one phone call, where we approach it with the best of intentions always ends with us feeling AWFUL. My sister was being so mean to herself for expecting differently and I just had to tell her, much like Drew, we will always JUST WANT something different and comfort from our parent and THAT stinks but it’s not our fault, it’s not a flaw. It’s just nature, primal and psychological. It still stinks.

    • seacoast says:

      Thank you for sharing @Mindy_DeLaCalle and @North of Boston. I’m going through an eerily similar situation with my mom after the birth of my child. It helps to know I’m not a strange anomaly.

    • TheVolvesSeidr says:

      I fully didn’t expect to get emotional reading an article about Drew along with these comments. @Mindy_DeLaCalle your comment literally made me stop breathing while I read. Exhale. It is so hard. I’ll be 60 next year. Sigh.

  3. caitlinsmom says:

    Wow. the comment about her mom really hit home with me. I think I understand what she means- that you have to grieve for the mother you never had- but that process shouldn’t have to wait until the mother that you do have leaves this earth.

    • Renee' says:

      I took her comment the same way. It isn’t about wishing her mom any ill will. It’s about knowing you have to grieve her as though she will not be a part of your life.

    • B says:

      Replace mother with husband who changed after kids came.

    • North of Boston says:

      Yeah there is so much truth to what she said – not just emotional truth but also pragmatic self-protective truth.

      If you have someone in your life who is toxic or harmful to you, someone who is unsafe for you to be around, especially someone who is/was a parental figure, it’s very hard to grow and heal yourself from whatever if they are still in your orbit, pushing all the same old buttons, repeating the same old patterns and reminding you of who you were when you were younger, weaker, more intwined with their dysfunction.

      Sometimes the only way forward is to step out, step away and move on with your life without them. And yeah, you grieve who they should have, could have been in your life, and you cycle through anger and sadness and frustration that they for whatever reason can never be loving in a healthy way towards you. But at least you’re out of the blast zone rebuilding yourself and your life. And having other vulnerable people in your care, like children, sometimes gives you permission to do that, to make yourself safe FOR their sake, in a way you wouldn’t allow yourself to otherwise.

      I wish nothing but good and lovely things for Drew!

      • SIde Eye says:

        @North of Boston I cannot tell you how much I love this comment and how comforting your words were to me as someone who recently made the decision to cut off my toxic mom. Thank you so much for your post. It hit home so hard, and yes, my decision was motivated by protecting my own child.

      • saysay says:

        thank you for this beautiful write-up!

      • dina says:

        I relate SO MUCH to this and the other comments. Not a parent, but have a very toxic mom who I have very much separated myself from for all the above for my own peace of mind/growth. I can understand she did her best with what she had – but I’ve realized the last few years I do not owe someone who is unstable and toxic access to my life just because they are family. Still alot for me to to work through in general with all that, but it was definitely the best decision for me

    • Gelya says:

      The Mom comment hit home with me too. I am shaking after reading it. I have voiced the same words and then felt bad as if I was implying I wanted her to die, but I don’t.
      I want to hug Drew about this. You have to say this about your own Mother or you can’t move on. You need to grieve.
      My husband and I both have monster Mothers who should be in prison for everything they have done. That doesn’t even encompass what they did to us. They have left a trail of victims.
      My husbands Mother died in her early 60’s. Mine is still going strong at almost 90. My husband barely felt anything when she died. I was the only person to send flowers to her funeral. I told my husband that it was unfair his Mother died before mine. He was finally free. I still have to go on. My husband said Why? He shut that door years ago and made peace with it. I finally understood.
      I didn’t want his Mother to die. I don’t want mine to die.
      I needed to grieve and move on. I have done that. I understand exactly what Drew is saying.
      Monster Mother’s make us say horrible things.

  4. AnneL says:

    It sounds like she is in a good place overall but wow, that’s heartbreaking.

    I don’t know much about Drew’s history with her mother, aside from the fact that it seems like she was just given no boundaries or sense of security as a kid. I seem to remember her being out dancing in clubs when she was only about 10 years old. And that’s not all on her mother. Her father let it happen too. But like she said, her mother is still here (and was the primary custodial parent, I assume?)

    I didn’t know “breaking up” was a thing therapists did. I guess that’s part of of her brand of therapy.

    • Jaded says:

      It’s such a sad story. Her mother started giving her alcohol and drugs and dragging her to clubs when she was still a child. At 7, she became famous after filming ET. By 11 she was an alcoholic, at 12 she was doing drugs, at 13 she attempted suicide by cutting her wrists and was hospitalized, and at 14 she legally divorced her parents. She does seem to be in a good phase of her life, and she seems to be a very *genuine* person, not a Hollywood cardboard cutout.

      • I agree Jaded and am Very Happy for Drew, I wish her nothing but the best as she deserves to be happy and content. Until people have walked in our shoes, they’ll never understand the feelings we have (or do Not have) for our Gestation hosts…

      • Deering24 says:

        Drew had three traumas to deal with: instant childhood success; a famous family dynasty; and growing up a Hollywood kid in the most extreme way. Any one of those alone has sunk a lot of actors. 🙁 I respect her mightily for getting through/overcoming all of that–talk about doing the work and having incredible determination.

  5. Nicegirl says:

    Drew 💕 💗

  6. wordnerd says:

    The mom stuff hits me hard, but also comforts me. Therapy in the last few years has been helping me realize that I’ll never have the relationship with my mom that I’ve longed for. She’s a covert narcissist and it took me almost 40 years to start stepping back and seeing all of her toxic behaviors. I’ve had moments where I’ve realized that when she passes, a part of me will finally be at peace, and that’s a hard thing to swallow.

    • Jaded says:

      @wordnerd — I went through exactly the same thing with my mother. Hindsight is 20/20 and at 70 I realize she was a covert narcissist, a martyr, self-obsessed. She passed away in 2014 at 92, she’d lived with me for 7 years after my father passed and it was HARD. But I had to do it. I was sad when she died but like you say, there was a sense of peace once I got over the grieving.

      • Mustlovedogs says:

        @wordnerd and @Jaded, me too. It took me until my early 50s to finally realise with a dawning sadness and horror that my mother had severe NPD. I am still saddened to this day that my late sister, who suffered along with me, died before she was able to start to heal from our childhood. My mother passed almost six years ago, and at 61 I am able to finally make some sense of it all. Yes there is relief… and grief – not for her passing but for the pain of the realisation that you have suffered your whole life with the loss and huge chasm left by the absence of a ‘real’ mother. It’s a journey, but ultimately there is light, understanding, self acceptance, and warm love for the little girls we were. Motherless in the true sense. But with an apparent living ‘mother’. I think that’s what Drew meant. Hugs to all of you understand. xx

    • @wordnerd

      Hugs <3

  7. SKE says:

    The thing about Drew is that she has this sunniness that seems so effortless, and it makes it easy to assume the bad stuff is behind her. I think in this article, for the first time, I can really see how much time and effort she has to spend, even now, just to be okay. All the credit in the world to her for the effort she continues to put in to break that trauma cycle for her kids.

  8. Trish says:

    I had to click the link and read all that cos I didn’t understand when she said “all their moms are gone” I still don’t know who she’s talking about. Drew is all over the place and I’d like to see Courtney Love or Frances or someone who was around during wild Drew era to see what their take is. She paints herself as all loving hippy child and I don’t believe it. The fact that she’s so close to Paltrow, tells me something is wrong. I’m glad she explained about all the selling. She’s become like Shaq, she’ll literally sell anything nowadays.

    • tealily says:

      Yeah, that seems like something that was edited out. Other people who talk about their mothers?

    • North of Boston says:

      I took it like when people say “everyone is married” when your peer group is at an age and stage in your 30’s and you’re the one still single.

      Like maybe with those close to her, there moms are no longer alive. And her’s is *right there* still alive, but not a part of her life for reasons.

    • smcollins says:

      No one else needs to offer their take on Drew because she’s an open book, pretty much always has been. You don’t even have to do a deep dive into her past to know how crazy, exploitative and destructive it was. The fact that she came out the other side to where she is now is pretty miraculous given how things usually tend to go for abused child stars whose families (in her case her mother) use them as cash cows and access to the HW high life (figuratively and literally). I think her sunny disposition is just who she is, and part of it may also be a defense mechanism, but I don’t think it’s fake. We’re the same age and I feel like we grew up “together” so I’ll always have a huge soft spot for her.

    • Lady Rae says:

      I think she neans Jeanette McCurdy and Brooke Shields as they are mentioned in the paragraph above as in they have figured things out about themselves and it’s easier as their mothers have died

  9. lucy2 says:

    Seeing where she is now, it’s clear she’s put in a lot of work on herself, and still does. I always wish her the best – she survived a childhood many would not have, and thrived.

  10. Meg says:

    This reminds me of the Disney channel actress with the book titled ‘im glad my mom’s dead’ people with toxic parents know what that means, that’s it’s not literal but those without toxic relatives will take it the wrong way
    Narcissistic immediate family here ✋ Acceptance is not the same as forgiveness, I accept they are who they are as theyve shown me for decades- this helps me stop seeking their warmth they won’t give.

  11. Nicole says:

    It’s weird but I feel like we’re friends (I know we’re not and I’m not a stalker). That said when she was early recovery as a teenager, I had a friend who used to go to some of the same meetings. I am so very proud of her. We’re the same age, and I absolutely could not do what she has done. She has grown so much and been successful in spite of her family. I learn so much from her. If I were only half as free as she.

  12. R says:

    man, I hope people aren’t too harsh on her about her relationship with her mom. I’ve read her comments more as ‘the way my mom has treated me still haunts and pains me and it’s difficult to grow and get past the hurt she has caused me, especially since I will never get the apology/closure/healing that I need from her’. kudos for her to to keep working on her mental health, her addictions and be a different, kinder, loving mom to her own kids.

    • Twin Falls says:

      I had a similar difficult relationship with my mom who was an alcoholic and before her death we had very little contact. It was really a relief when she died that she couldn’t harm herself or anyone else because I’d long given up that anything would actually change. So I feel the but she’s still alive deep in my bones with the utmost sympathy.

      • R says:

        @Twin Falls, so sorry to hear that. Parent-child relationships are so, so complicated. I think parents, more than anyone else, can hurt us the most, in a way no one else can. And that pain will always exists somewhere. Our parents influences the way we look at the world and interact with people. Yet, when we grow older and more adult, there is so also so much love and sympathy/understanding of how our parents turnt out the way they did…Hope you’re in a better place and healing.

  13. Normades says:

    I’ll always be team Drew. She’s a year younger and I feel like we grew up with her even though her childhood was hell. Irreconcilable Differences was one of my favorite films and I still think about it, how absolutely toxic Shelly Long and Ryan O’Neal were to her and each other. Also when she was dating the bassist of Hole and flashed David Letterman, we all thought that was so cool and edgy at the time (we were pretty dumb then too). Anyways she is a Gen X icon and has been through so much, wish her the best.

  14. Kitten says:

    I grew up with an amazing (and yes, flawed) mother but I would NEVER judge anyone who said that they were glad or relieved that their mom is dead. My mom grew up with abusive toxic parents and when her mom passed away recently this is exactly how she felt, even if she never said it. Even just typing this my eyes are tearing up thinking about what a tragedy it was all-around: my mom at such a young age being a beaker for all of her mom’s anger, fear, and anxiety and then fighting to shed all it all as an adult.

    My mom always says that the damage done during those formative years never leaves you–in some ways you’re always that damaged child. Sigh. Sending love to all my CBers who have struggled with toxic parents. You’re all so much stronger than you’ll ever know. ♥

    • Pajala says:

      My experience was different in that it was my two bipolar brothers who made my life hell and were so hard on my parents. It took me till my fifties to step back and recognize the profound damage they did to us. I hope you don’t mind my saying that sadly there’s comfort in knowing that others also spent decades in denial about the toxic damage. I’m obviously NOT glad it happened to those of you who shared. Just glad to know I’m not the only person to have spent decades in denial. I hope that makes some sense.

  15. K says:

    I love her. She’s goofy,flawed beautiful and ok showing her guts. Gloriously defying the shit that tried to destroy her. Amazing.
    I will say one nice thing about that family of mental torture artists. Their outrageously photogenic faces are stunning.

  16. February Pisces says:

    Even though she’s literally been around since forever, I feel like drew has come into her own the last few years since her show started. She seems very cool and I love her honesty.

  17. Mimi says:

    I’m 53 and after sharing some of my childhood stories with my daughter (who is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner) she suggested I read the book “ Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, Or Self-Involved Parents” by Lindsay C. Gibson.
    It was a real eye opener.