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Royal Wedding Fever; Interview With Nikki Sixx
Aired April 28, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST: So here we go.
Royal wedding eve. Are William and Kate in it for the long haul? I hope so, but I`m not so sure.
Then, Nikki Sixx -- rock star, heroin addict, the ultimate survivor.
And a woman confronts her abuser -- it`s her stepfather -- face to face, right here.
Also, I`ll be taking your calls. So let`s get going.
Well, the royal wedding is tomorrow. And check this out. Two billion -- that is with a "B" -- people are expected to watch this thing.
Now, women are going nuts apparently over the dress, the hair, the tiara. So we`re going to cover it.
But I can`t get to it without saying my heart goes out to the people in Alabama, particularly those of you in Tuscaloosa. We will be covering that.
Listen, we`re thinking about you. And please, please, stay well.
Now, this may surprise you about tomorrow`s wedding. When I cover it tomorrow, I want you to be here, because not only am I going to have a group of people talking about this -- the couple you`re looking at here, but I`m going to have psychics here.
It seems unlike me, doesn`t it? But I`m going to have psychics here to see if William and Kate can escape the royal curse, or maybe they`ll live happily ever after. I personally have my own theories. Let`s just say William has got some family of origin issues.
I`m also going to have Cat, the British bombshell from "The Real Housewives of D.C.," of Washington, D.C. She`s going to join us. Also, Lady Victoria Harvey. She`s a British socialite with close ties to the royal family. So I`ll be anxious to get her sort of take on what`s really going on here.
But right now I want to go to check in with "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`S" Brooke Anderson for a wedding eve report -- Brooke.
BROOKE ANDERSON, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Hi there, Dr. Drew.
Yes, about two billion people, like you say, are going to watch this royal wedding. And I`m a girl, so I love any kind of wedding. It doesn`t have to be a royal wedding.
But this is a huge deal. Not just here in London, but around the world. I mean, more than a million tourists are expected to be here in London.
And if you can take a look behind me, people have been camping out since yesterday. They are -- they`ve put their chairs and their tents in their spots and they are not moving. They want to see the procession firsthand.
And Dr. Drew, it is cold outside. I`m hoping nobody`s got a baby out there. It is cold outside.
They`re going to spend the night, and they are here to support the monarchy. And, you know, a lot of people say, well, listen, the queen, the royal family, they don`t have any political influence, what is the big deal?
Dr. Drew, they represent to a lot of people stability, unity. And that is a huge comfort. They are seen as ambassadors.
PINSKY: Well, thanks, Brooke. I really appreciate your input.
I guess it`s history -- they`re history right in front of our eyes. So please enjoy the strawberries and cream. And I will see you later. Thank you.
PINSKY: All right, then. Let`s get away from British royalty and talk about rock royalty.
Nikki Sixx is here. We all know him as founder of the Crue, Motley Crue, and Sixx:A.M. This is their new album, "This is Gonna Hurt." It is out this week. Here it is.
And his book, title with the same name, is in stores now. And it`s very interesting. I had a chance to read it today.
Watch this, then we`ll talk to Nikki.
PINSKY (voice-over): Born Frank Feranna, Reborn Nikki Sixx. And born again into a second chance at life.
The nine lives of Nikki Sixx started when he was a kid from a broken home. Then, a teenager, penniless, homeless, on the street. Next, he started breaking records and social boundaries with legendary rock band Motley Crue.
As co-founder, Nikki led the group into the highest peaks of success, all the while falling deeper into a pit of addiction. He even died, literally, and lived to tell about it. How? He cleaned up and found recovery.
PINSKY: So, when you think about your experience with Motley Crue, what comes to mind first?
NIKKI SIXX, FOUNDER, MOTLEY CRUE: That we`ve had a lot of fun. We broke a lot of rules. And I`m really proud of the music. I don`t really think of the debauchery as much as everybody else does.
PINSKY: Well, you have told some war stories. I`ve heard them. I think you were the one that talked about shooting alcohol straight. Isn`t that you?
SIXX: Shooting Jack Daniels, yes.
PINSKY: Yes, because you ran --
SIXX: Yes, we`ve talked a few times. And we`ve talked about stuff eve off air about, like, how does that work on the body?
PINSKY: How do you survive?
SIXX: Yes, how do you survive?
PINSKY: Well, it`s interesting. In that little piece we talked about -- we sort of promoted the fact that you actually had -- actually died, your heart stopped. Tell people about that story.
SIXX: Well, you know, it`s interesting being in recovery, and then, you know, talking to other people in recovery, how many people have had that experience, especially heroin addicts.
PINSKY: Oh, yes.
SIXX: But a lot of people with cocaine, you know, from seizures, have died and also had seizures.
PINSKY: But from my perspective --
PINSKY: -- there`s a lot more that you don`t get to talk to.
PINSKY: A lot of my patients, I get to put in the ground.
PINSKY: And it`s not cool.
SIXX: And I see it happen to people all the time. You know, a big part of writing "The Heroin Diaries" was showing the addiction at its worse, but also showing recovery. And that`s kind of where this book takes off.
PINSKY: What was your bottom?
SIXX: You know, I think my bottom was -- it was a bit of a spiritual like, you know, sledgehammer. I mean, I really didn`t have the kind of bottom where I lost everything. It`s like, literally, where I kind of just, like, had overdosed so many times, that I just woke up and said, I want something different. And I never wanted anything different from my life either.
PINSKY: Was it, I don`t want to die? Did you have that kind of thought?
SIXX: No, it was I want to live.
PINSKY: And is it, I`m disgusting, I want to change?
SIXX: No. It was, like, something -- it was like something clicked.
PINSKY: Something stepped in.
SIXX: Something stepped in. And I`ve heard the terminology "spiritual awakening." And, you know, I used to really kind of, like, sneer at that whole thing and the whole idea of God and everything. And for me, it`s something happened, it shifted, and it did take a long time. It wasn`t like just overnight, all of a sudden, I was this happy guy. I mean, I had to reprogram myself.
PINSKY: And for you, and for me, that deals with addicts all the time, people out there, they hear your story of near death, overdosing. That wasn`t enough. No, it`s never enough.
SIXX: No, it`s never enough.
PINSKY: No. It`s a brain disease where your brain doesn`t properly perceive the consequence of what it`s doing. It just wants to use and nothing else matters.
SIXX: I mean, I do believe that I`m an addict on one level or another at all times.
PINSKY: Of course.
SIXX: I do believe that when I`m writing music, I get addicted to the music of the concept of what the outcome of the song is, or the passion behind the lyrics. In photography, I feel like I really get into an addictive mode when I`m really shooting, shooting, shooting, and then I`ll kind of pull back and go into something else.
It`s a great thing when it`s a healthy thing.
SIXX: But I have to keep an eye on it all the time because it`s a behavioral thing.
PINSKY: Oh, it`s doing push-ups, trust me. Right now, when we`re talking, your disease is doing push-ups.
SIXX: It`s waiting.
PINSKY: It`s waiting for you.
Now, I actually really kind of got sucked into your book. I have got to tell you something, because I`ve known you a while and I feel like I got closer to you reading this book.
SIXX: Thank you.
PINSKY: And the part that haunted me -- and I`m using that word intentionally -- was this idea of you being a fan to a ghost and your dad being a ghost and your sister Lisa being a ghost. It seems like that`s a theme that really haunted you as a kid.
SIXX: There was a moment at Funny Farm, my photography studio, which there`s a photo in there where I did a self-portrait. And I was writing, trying to describe my photography, because it was really going to be a photography book.
And as I was trying to describe it, I kind of had this moment where I looked around my studio and I went, everything in here is about my sister Lisa. There was a lot of stuff in there that was like I`d been trying to kind of --
PINSKY: Well, tell people that story. You and I know it, but tell it for the people at home what this is all about.
SIXX: Yes. Well, I mean, she was born with Down syndrome, and she was --
PINSKY: Wheelchair-bound, blind, deaf.
SIXX: Wheelchair-bound, yes. And she wasn`t supposed to live past -- Down syndrome in her severe case, not supposed to live past 6 years old.
And she did live to be 36 years old. But at the time -- and, you know, God bless my mother -- you know, she did tell me later, because there were these moments of anger, fits of rage that I would have when it would come bubbling up. It`s like, I have a sister. Where is this person?
And I look back and it was 1960s, early `60s. My mom was very young. She had me.
What do you do with this child? You know, they institutionalized --
PINSKY: That`s what they did back then.
SIXX: That`s what they did back then.
PINSKY: But it really haunted you. When I read that part about her, it really affected me rather deeply, that it feels like a lot of your pain is around those sorts of losses. And Lisa sort of was the core focus of that.
We have to take a break.
PINSKY: When we come back, we`re going to talk to Nikki some more, and we`re going to meet a woman who -- I don`t know, maybe she`s like Lisa for you. She`s inspired Nikki. And you have got to see this to see how.
And here`s Nikki in action with the Crue singing "Dr. Feelgood."
PINSKY: That is Nikki`s song with his new band, Sixx:A.M. It`s called "Lies of the Beautiful People." His new album will be in stores and his book, "This is Gonna Hurt," is in stores now.
Joining us now is Amy Purdy. She is in the book. She`s a model, a role model, and a spokesperson for challenged athletes.
Now, Nikki, I want to talk to you about Amy.
So, Amy, sit while we talk about you as though you`re not here for a second.
But I want to say something that`s just occurred to me during the break, is normally -- you had a pretty rough childhood.
PINSKY: And you ended up homeless and -- I mean, the usual addict story. Correct?
SIXX: Sure. Not that unique.
PINSKY: And normally I`d kind of want to go there, but it`s so much not with you anymore. You kind of processed it all through.
SIXX: Right. Exactly. Yes.
PINSKY: You know, you seem like you`re at peace with all that.
SIXX: Without a doubt.
PINSKY: Yes, which is why I just kind of naturally skipped right through it to something more important, which is this book, which is really, for me, you being -- exposing a deeper part of yourself than I`ve seen before.
PINSKY: And Amy was a part of this. Why?
SIXX: A big part of it. I was very influenced by certain photographers. And a lot of the photographers that influenced me, as well as stuff that I was influenced by artistically, was what would not be perceived as conventional beauty, and whether it was Wet-Plate photography from the late 1800s, all the way through stuff like (INAUDIBLE), et cetera.
So I was looking to create something with a double amputee that would be beautiful. I wanted to create a beautiful sort of a fantasy situation, and we met. And we bonded immediately.
And there was -- what I didn`t know was going to happen was that she was going to inspire me on so many different levels, and through a lot of my photography is the day -- well, we met first, and we built her these steel legs, spike legs. We put what I call Amy in Wonderland, in this amazing situation where she had this beautiful -- you had this corset on. And we did this wig.
And she looks absolutely beautiful. And we suspended her from the ceiling, and she was in this very feminine pose.
And everything was very conflicting. You know, there was -- the legs were missing, but something else was there in their place. It didn`t look like you could fit in this way.
And you looked at peace with yourself.
PINSKY: And beautiful.
SIXX: And beautiful. And so beautiful.
And that day -- well, it was actually after that photo session -- you don`t know this -- I went to a gas station and there was "People" magazine, "The 100 Most Beautiful People."
And I had this beautiful experience with her. And I was pissed. I called up my band members and I went, "We`ve got a problem here. We`ve got a serious problem."
And we wrote the song "Lies of the Beautiful People." And it really inspired a lot of -- it basically uncorked what was already happening with me.
I was evolving as an artist and as a man, and starting to see life differently, and sort of renegotiate my own life. And Amy had a big part of that.
And then finding out more about you, you know, in doing the documentaries --
PINSKY: So, there`s a documentary that goes along with this. We haven`t even yet spoken to Amy. But let me say that there is a documentary that goes along with Nikki`s book. You can see it on Hulu.
Amy is in it. So just check this out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY PURDY, CO-FOUNDER, ADAPTIVE ACTION SPORTS: I remember the day that the doctor walked in and said that he was going to have to amputate my legs. Even though I didn`t have my legs, but when do you ever think about your legs and your feet? I mean, really?
Like, your legs and your feet are not you. You know? They`re not what make you beautiful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Amy, what was it that happened to you?
PURDY: Well, I was 19 years old, and I was really healthy. I was a massage therapist. I was a snowboarder. I was really active and into my health, and just, you know, a perfectly healthy 19-year-old.
And then, suddenly, in one day my life changed forever. And I started to feel like I was getting the flu, and just kind of body aches and slight temperature, nothing too bad.
And then, within 24 hours, I was in the hospital fighting for my life with bacterial meningitis, and ended up losing my spleen, my legs, my kidney function. I had a kidney transplant. Lost the hearing in my left ear.
I had less than a two percent chance of living. So I was very lucky to survive. But, yes, we have no idea really how I got it. One in four people are carriers.
PINSKY: Well, it`s the nature of infectious diseases. You just -- you know, it either gets you or it doesn`t. It`s not about being healthy or not healthy. It`s about being in the wrong place at the right time.
PURDY: Right. Absolutely, yes.
PINSKY: And people don`t understand that.
I hope people at home take that to heart, that there is a vaccine for this. Please look into that, particularly if your kids are going off to college, that this is potentially preventable. And it`s a great lesson, if you do get an illness and things aren`t getting right, quickly get to help.
Because, had you not, you would not be here right now.
PURDY: Right. And you don`t even know that something`s going wrong. You know, you think you have the flu, and then, all of a sudden, yes.
PINSKY: Right. I saw you bristle a little bit when Nikki called you a double amputee. You kind of shifted your body a bit.
PURDY: Oh, really?
SIXX: I know you don`t like that word.
PURDY: I know. I don`t like labels.
PINSKY: It`s interesting. I saw your body react.
PURDY: Yes. I don`t like labels. I don`t like -- you know, suddenly, after I lost my legs, I was "the patient," you know, patient, an amputee. I have prosthetic legs.
There`s something about that, that I`m perfectly comfortable with my situation, ad I`ve gone on to model and act and help a lot of other people with prosthetics and different disabilities. So I`m totally comfortable with it. But there`s something about the label that now I`m not Amy, or now I`m not just this normal, beautiful woman, I`m, oh, Amy the double leg amputee.
SIXX: I can understand that. Like, how would be a better way of explaining that?
PURDY: You know, maybe -- I don`t know. I usually say -- you know, and there`s nothing wrong with it.
PINSKY: Educate us.
PURDY: Yes. I usually say I have prosthetic legs. I don`t usually say, oh, I`m an amputee.
PINSKY: See, and that`s the last thing I would think she would say. I would think you`d say I lost my limbs to a terrible illness or something.
PURDY: Yes. Or, "This is my friend Amy, she has prosthetic legs."
SIXX: Right. Right.
PURDY: But, you know, that`s just my own thing. That`s not --
SIXX: I don`t think of you -- because I searched you out because I wanted somebody that I could, you know, build the legs for.
SIXX: And then it went to a whole other level.
What I found really inspirational is what you have done with your life, with it, and how you teach soldiers how to deal with a different way of losing their limbs, but, you know, you`re not, like, that`s not it. It`s not the end of your life.
PURDY: Right. Yes. And that`s one thing that`s interesting, too, is I worked with soldiers preparing them.
I worked with the military preparing them before they go to war, how to save each other in casualty scenarios. And then, now, with my organization, I work with them when they come back from war and get them back into snowboarding and skateboarding and --
SIXX: That`s fantastic.
PINSKY: It is fantastic.
SIXX: And when I get to tell people this, young kids I see at the book signings, crying. Not just Amy, but Farrah (ph) and Matt (ph) and a lot of people that I`ve been fortunate enough to photograph. There`s a bigger story here.
PINSKY: Well, that`s what I was saying, Nikki. I`m thinking about you, that picture with your mom with the sort of `50s car, early `60s car, behind that kind of clean-cut kid, the life you`ve led. And now here you are.
We have got just a few seconds left. What`s the message in that?
SIXX: The message for me is and the message that I hope people are getting is you can do anything with your life that you want to do and nothing can hold you back.
PINSKY: And Amy agrees with that?
PURDY: Absolutely. I`d say the same. We all have so much potential.
PINSKY: Yes. I think that`s -- it makes me kind of tearful a little bit to think --
SIXX: And I think it`s important for kids to hear this.
PINSKY: It is, because so many kids are in trouble and struggling, and you can do anything, but you`ve got to do it. You`ve got to do it and you have to listen to direction.
SIXX: And you`ve got to do the work.
PINSKY: And you have to do the work. You have to take the support of other people. Closeness of others.
Thank you, guys. Nikki, Amy, thank you for joining me.
SIXX: Thank you.
PURDY: Thank you.
PINSKY: Tomorrow, we`re going to talk royalty. Well, "The King" himself is going to be here, Larry King. And, oh, there`s that other thing, that wedding that`s making news. We`ll talk about that, too. Lady Victoria will lead us through the day`s events.
And when we come back, I`ll be taking your calls.
PINSKY: It is time now for "On Call," so let`s get right to it.
We`ve got Stacey in Arizona.
Stacey, what can I do for you?
STACEY, ARIZONA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
STACEY: My question is, how long do the withdrawals from a narcotic addiction last? And how do you get doctors to stop prescribing the medication?
PINSKY: Well, by narcotics, you mean opiates?
You know, I call it Pinsky`s rule of one year, that it can take up to a year for what are called post-acute withdrawal symptoms to settle down. The miserable part is about a week. Then, for three to six months, you can count on sort of not sleeping and being irritable and feeling desperate, needing lots of encouragement and support, and going to lots of meetings to make sure that you get that support.
But that first year, you`re really not normal, particularly -- the common thing we see these days is the opiates are combined with benzodiazepines. So the benzo withdrawal is what really kicks in later and stays with you all that year.
In terms of getting doctors not to keep prescribing, don`t go to doctors and complain about anxiety and sleeplessness and back pain, because that`s what you`re going to have. And all they have got in their armamentarium is benzo-type medicines, which are addictive, and opiates, which are addictive.
You can take anti-inflammatories and Tylenol. And that`s it.
No one ever died from this condition of withdrawal. It`s miserable. I get it. You will get through it. But don`t look for solutions in medication.
Now, there are some medicines that are necessary in the early part of withdrawal to make it possible to get through it. Sleep, so you can get sleep, things like Neurontin and Seroquel, (INAUDIBLE), and sometimes early on (ph).
All right. Yesterday, we talked about puberty and early onset puberty, and how it`s coming on earlier in kids.
One of our viewers, Noelle, she asked, "I got my period and began developing breasts in the fourth grade," which is normalish. "I`m almost now 40 and wondering if I`m going to start menopause early, too."
And I know of no data that suggests early puberty is necessarily associated with early menopause. That is to say that, in fact, quite the contrary, I have seen data that shows people that late onset puberty sometimes live longer. But again, that`s no association with when or when the menopause comes on. That`s a completely unrelated phenomenon.
It does have kind of a familial tendency to it. If your mom got menopause at a young age, you will tend to get it at a young age as well.
And I`d like to say, also, I`m a big -- I think there`s been sort of an under-replacement of hormones in women. Really talk to doctors about this.
I understand there are risks to being on replacement therapies, but I think we`ve sort of underdone it a little bit. So have a very careful conversation with your doctor about what benefits might be there for hormone replacement versus what risk for your particular circumstances.
We have got now Kim from Illinois.
What`s up there, Kim?
KIM, ILLINOIS: Hello. Thank you, Doctor.
PINSKY: What`s up?
KIM: I`ve noticed recently that my eighth grade daughter isn`t showing lack of confidence academically, her grades are dropping a little bit. And it`s beginning to spread to other areas.
My question is, where`s the line between what we call typical adolescent insecurity, and red flags for unhealthy anxiety or depression?
PINSKY: How old is she?
PINSKY: Yes. That is the age when depression certainly can come on. Right? And you want to be very, very careful with having that properly evaluated.
And it`s a very important question and a difficult question to answer. I would say from a parent`s standpoint, the most sensitive thing to look for is a sudden drop in grades.
So, if her grades have suddenly kind of dropped off, I mean, sometimes that`s just puberty coming on, that they get moody from that. Sometimes, if they are more than two weeks of sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances, isolating, different peers, that sort of thing, then I would definitely look into it. But it sounds like the kind of thing you have got is just sort of normal adolescent moodiness, it sounds like.
When we come back, we`ve got a woman and the man who abused her as a child. They sit down together and they confront this disturbing past.
PINSKY: Tonight, we are investigating a story of child molestation and a woman who confronted her abuser. Tracy Ross has an incredibly dramatic story. You take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): It should have been a tender relationship with a father figure. Instead, it became a story of abuse that tainted Tracy Ross adult life. Shadowy memories of hands groping in the night and decades of trying to vanquish the specter of childhood trauma. It spiraled into a world of personal turmoil, substance abuse, and attempts at therapy. All failed. And now, she claims to engineer healing through forgiveness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): And she`s written a book. It is called "The Source of All Things." It chronicles her story. Tracy Ross joins me now to talk about this and how this whole experience changed your life, particularly, I guess, things really started going bad for you when your step-father joined your family. As I read in your book, you were delighted at first, right? He seemed like a salvation for you, guys.
TRACY ROSS, AUTHOR, "THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS": Oh, yes. The reason that he seemed like such a salvation is because my real father died when I was 7 months old. He was on a backpacking trip in the sierras. And, as a result, my mom sort of spiraled into this crazy depression and left my brother and me not -- she didn`t neglect us, but we definitely felt like there was this third child of depression kind of hanging around our house always in need of something. And so, when Donnie Lee kind of swept into our lives --
PINSKY: That`s your step-dad.
ROSS: Yes. He was like this swash buckling, kind of 1970s, if I had known who John Denver was, I probably would have, you know, compared the two and thought that he was John Denver. He had this great jeep, and he had this amazing dog and just everything that I connected with as a child.
PINSKY: And you were how old at that point?
ROSS: I was 3 1/2, 4, but I remember seeing him for the first time, and actually, meeting him for the first time, and instantly, connecting with him.
PINSKY: And then, something went off the rail.
ROSS: Yes. It wasn`t until -- it was probably five years later, I guess, the fall of 1979, so I was eight years old, we were camping at Red Fish Lake which is this idyllic, beautiful place in Idaho at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains. And in our family camper, one night, he`d been drinking, and he stood up and said he sort of stumbled forward, and I was sleeping in a bunk bed above my mom, and he molested me.
PINSKY: And that`s just where it started?
ROSS: that`s where it started, yes.
PINSKY: What made you decide to go public with this? Write a book about it?
ROSS: Well, I knew, first of all, that I needed to confront him because I had this amazing life. A great husband, two wonderful kids. My dream life. Traveling all over the world. Writing about skiing and adventure. And I just had this low-lying depression and knew that it was because of the abuse. And that I had been living a lie for my entire family because my step-father never confessed authentically.
PINSKY: My understanding you said he gave sort of half apologies? He kind of brought it up over the years?
ROSS: Yes. And, you know, I ran away and told a mother`s friend -- or the friend of a mother -- sorry, the mother of a friend.
PINSKY: Well, let`s go back to that because you had that original episode in the Sawtooth Mountains, and then, he continued to abuse you, right?
ROSS: Yes. It stopped for a little while, and then, it picked back up when I hit puberty.
PINSKY: And somewhere in there, you ran away. And if you`ll permit me for a second to interrupt our conversation, just tell people at home that when kids run away from home and stay away, not talking about, you know, like the Dennis the Menace running away, but actually gone. There`s almost always severe abuse in the home. In this case, it was sexual abuse. And my understanding is not only did you run away, but you tried to kill yourself.
ROSS: I thought very seriously about it. Yes. I ran to the Perrine Bridge which spans the Snake River outside of Twin Falls, Idaho, and stood there for a long time contemplating jumping. And it`s a 500-foot fall.
PINSKY: Can I point out that when you even talk about that experience now, you kind of shut down? Are you aware of that? You got a little glaze comes over you.
ROSS: No, I`m not aware.
PINSKY: Yes. Was that experience, somehow, sort of out of body when you were there on that bridge? Was that surreal?
ROSS: Oh, definitely.
PINSKY: Take us back to that moment.
ROSS: I just remember -- it was -- you know, it`s basically a two- mile walk to get to the bridge. And I ran there as fast as I could. I just knew there was something inside of me that drew me to this place. And it`s because it`s big and dramatic, and it would have been final. And I remember standing there. The wind was blowing. The wind always blows in Twin Falls, in the dessert, and just feeling gravel whipping up around me. I was wearing a Tweety bird nightgown and feeling the nightgown kind of flowing around me.
PINSKY: Was it painful? Was it a painful moment?
ROSS: Yes, definitely. But also, sort of adrenaline charged at the same time.
PINSKY: Oh, you get a little high when you think about it, strangely.
ROSS: Not high, but you know, I can feel that anxiety, definitely.
PINSKY: And how did you come off the cliff?
ROSS: I ultimately realized, I thought of something that my brother had once told me about a friend that he knew who had -- or he actually told me that he had dipped a cat in gasoline and thrown it over the bridge to see if it would light on fire. And that coupled with the thought that I would actually die for real turned me back.
PINSKY: I don`t understand the cat.
PINSKY: What did that mean to you?
ROSS: Well, it`s a shocking image. I mean, it`s a horrific image.
PINSKY: You just thought of the horror of all this.
PINSKY: And it sort of became more real to you?
ROSS: Yes. Definitely. So I, you know, I was like, this isn`t a joke. If I jump, I`m going to die.
PINSKY: Right. And hurt people? Your mom?
PINSKY: Where was your mom when all this was going on?
ROSS: She was locked in a depression, she says.
PINSKY: Do you blame her for allowing this to happen?
ROSS: I blame her for being blind to it.
PINSKY: Had something happened to her?
PINSKY: Something had happened to him, though?
PINSKY: He was sexually abused.
PINSKY: Another aside for our viewers, it`s very, very common for women who have been sexually abused to be attracted to and bring perpetrators around their kids inadvertently just because we, in our lives, we re-enact traumas over and over again. If something is shattering and terrorizing to us, we strangely, humans, particularly when this happens in childhood, we`re drawn back to the people and places that recreate the traumas or people that remind us of those same kinds of people.
Sound familiar? You do that kind of stuff? Did you spiral out of your family and start recreating traumas for yourself?
ROSS: Oh, definitely. Yes, for years.
PINSKY: Drugs, alcohol, sex.
ROSS: Yes, terrible relationships.
PINSKY: Did you get professional help along way?
ROSS: Not for a very, very long time, but it -- I think that`s because I found a release and a form of not healing -- I really hate that word, but release and major distraction, and I guess, healing in outdoor adventure.
PINSKY: Something called the running phase of post-traumatic stress disorder? Did you ever hear of that? People in post-traumatic stress, they run, run, run, they`re running away from the pain, running away from the trauma. Sounds familiar?
ROSS: Yes. Oh, definitely.
PINSKY: You were in that running phase.
PINSKY: And then, how did you get out of it?
ROSS: You know, I ultimately didn`t get out of it -- and I would say I still have those tendencies because I have a very hard time slowing down and being settled. I really didn`t start to get out of it until my kids were born.
PINSKY: So being -- having -- being a mom changed your life?
ROSS: Yes, definitely.
PINSKY: Which I definitely see that happen. And then, you decided to confront your dad.
PINSKY: And we`re going to have him out here in a few minutes which, by the way, I`m moderately uncomfortable with, I`ll tell you. Are you okay with that?
ROSS: Yes. I mean, I`m moderately uncomfortable with it also, but I feel like we have something really important to say and letting him speak and sort of explain what was going through his mind, I think, can be useful.
PINSKY: All right. Well, I`m going to allow that, in spite of my concerns, if you`re OK with it. All right.
When we get back, we`ll talk into Donnie Lee, that Tracy`s step- father. We have a lot -- I got a lot of questions for that boy. Let me tell you. So, you don`t want to miss this. Stay tuned.
PINSKY: Welcome back. We are talking with Tracy Ross. She`s written a book about sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her step-father, Donnie Lee. And Donnie has actually agreed to be here with us. Now, I want to lay out my concerns, first. Generally, let me just say, this is for my viewers that it`s not a good idea for perpetrators and victims to be together. It`s just not a good idea.
It ends up re-traumatizing and re-evoking stuff for the victim. Now, I am very in favor of forgiveness which I think is what your story is about and what you want to tell. Though, for anyone contemplating this, please find forgiveness first, and then, have a professional guide you whether or not you should be around the person who was the perpetrator and make sure that person has been adequately treated as well.
But Donnie, I want to give you a chance to tell us your side of the story. What happened? And I`m going to try to play the role here people at home because they`re going to have a hard time forgiving you or getting their head around what happened to you or what you did.
DONNIE LEE, MOLESTED STEP-DAUGHTER: That`s a good question. I`ve asked myself several times why, why would I do such a thing to somebody that I love? And it`s something that when I did this particular thing, that strange thoughts were going through my mind.
PINSKY: Were you drunk?
LEE: There was times that I`d been --
PINSKY: Are you an alcoholic?
LEE: No, I`m not.
PINSKY: OK. So, drinking affected this but wasn`t the cause.
LEE: Yes. Correct.
PINSKY: What made you agree to participate in the book and come forward? Let`s start with that, perhaps.
LEE: It started a couple of years ago when Tracy said that there was something that she wanted to ask me. She wanted to write a book. And there were some questions she wanted to ask me.
PINSKY: Did you assume it was about this issue? Were you frightened when she came to you?
LEE: I was nervous. I didn`t know exactly what questions she wanted to ask me until she did. And she wanted me to go camping with her in the central part of Idaho, backpacking trip, and it was something that I agreed to and once we got up there, she asked me the questions that she wanted to ask me. Direct questions.
PINSKY: And they`re chronicled in your books. You actually have a transcript of what this conversation was.
LEE: Yes. And so, it was hard to be truthful and upfront, but I told her I`d support her in anything that she wanted to do to bring this out to help other people. To, you know, give person that`s been abused the courage to come forth and to speak up and say something.
PINSKY: And you`re a victim, too. You were sexually abused as a child?
PINSKY: And obviously, you know, this is a crazy thing about childhood sexual abuse. The child we`re crying about today is the potential perpetrator of tomorrow, and that`s just the fact. You became a perpetrator. For my viewers, why should they believe you?
LEE: Why should they believe me? I, first of all, I wanted Tracy to believe me that I was --
PINSKY: Why should she believe you? Have you had treatment?
LEE: Yes, I have.
PINSKY: You have had treatment for this?
PINSKY: Oh, OK.
LEE: When Tracy left the house, I was put in group therapy. It wasn`t one-on-one therapy, but it was in group therapy, and I was put into a group where there was different severities of their actions, and it was hard to go through, but --
PINSKY: Tell us about that experience, because that`s a really important point that I like to make to people out there is, please get treatment before you harm somebody, particularly, somebody you love, and you did the worst possible thing, Donnie.
PINSKY: Let`s get to it, man.
PINSKY: Your problems took you to a place that is almost -- you OK? Because I feel your body reacting as I talk about this stuff. Almost unimaginable. Mano-a-mano here (ph). It`s not OK.
LEE: No, it isn`t.
PINSKY: And you must have had to dug through all that shame and guilt into a treatment. And that`s what people avoid doing. How did you do it?
LEE: I didn`t really -- because I didn`t do the one-on-one treatment.
LEE: It was throughout the years that I`ve had to go through different therapies and try to make peace with myself.
PINSKY: I understand.
LEE: Because it`s a shameful crime. I mean, it`s a shameful crime against a human soul.
PINSKY: Have you cleaned up your side of the street?
LEE: Yes, I have.
LEE: I -- through therapy.
PINSKY: What about this one?
LEE: I`ve did everything possible. I`ve sent her a letter of apology.
PINSKY: What about the half apologies you gave for years?
LEE: The half apologies kind of fell short.
LEE: Until two years ago.
PINSKY: Yes. Was this is a good thing that she came to you with this?
PINSKY: For you, it was good. I think it re-traumatized her.
LEE: I`m sure it did.
PINSKY: It`s a horrible idea to go to the mountains with somebody who`s your perpetrator. I mean, it`s turning out OK, but just anyone else listening out there, please don`t do that.
ROSS: I`d never recommended it to anyone.
PINSKY: You must have been just overwhelmed by anxiety doing this. It`s almost -- and disassociated. You must have been checked out, numbed, to manage it, right?
ROSS: But I felt like once it was set in motion, that`s what I was going to do.
PINSKY: You just had to do it.
ROSS: I had to do it.
PINSKY: It seems like he turned out -- thank God he`s had treatment. If he hadn`t had treatment, God only knows what would happen.
ROSS: I know.
PINSKY: Did you know he was in treatment?
ROSS: No. I mean, not at -- he wasn`t at the time.
PINSKY: The treatment has been since 2007 or was it before that?
LEE: It was before 2007.
PINSKY: OK. So, there`s some treatment, at least.
ROSS: Yes, yes.
PINSKY: How would you feel as we have this conversation?
ROSS: I feel a little gripped, a little bit.
PINSKY: Gripped, ambivalent grip or like numb gripped? Go ahead, answer me.
ROSS: Ambivalent is sort of the keyword.
PINSKY: And where does that come from? Describe for people viewing what that ambivalence means between what and what.
ROSS: It`s a tension between wanting to forgive and wanting it to all be OK and believe that it`s moving forward into a better thing.
ROSS: And residual, just -- it does --
PINSKY: What`s the residual feeling? What`s the residual feeling?
PINSKY: No. And he can take it.
ROSS: Anger and fear.
PINSKY: All that is on the ambivalent side. What`s the really bad feelings under there?
ROSS: I mean, I would say that those are the feelings.
PINSKY: OK. I imagine hatred is underneath.
ROSS: There`s some hatred. I would -- yes.
PINSKY: OK. OK. And that`s the thing that makes things feel ambivalent. OK? It`s OK for her to hate, right? I mean, you`d hate somebody -- you would hate somebody that would do that to her.
PINSKY: That`s you.
LEE: Yes. I`ve been paying for it ever since.
PINSKY: How? Hang on a second. I have to check in with her because she`s the victim here. You all right? It`s OK to hate him. He can take it.
ROSS: I know.
PINSKY: You`re entitled to that.
PINSKY: But the ambivalent part is that`s the same guy you fell in love with.
PINSKY: That makes it really crazy.
PINSKY: Doesn`t it?
ROSS: Fell in love with -- that`s kind of loaded a little bit.
PINSKY: I beg your pardon. You`re absolutely right. The strange I would choose those words. I remember in your book, you had all kinds of peculiar feelings about all that was your salvation as a father figure at one time.
ROSS: Exactly, exactly.
PINSKY: Yes, I understand. Great that you know the difference. That`s good on your part. Paying for it. How? We have one minute. I want to hear it because people want to know you`ve paid.
LEE: Through mistrust.
PINSKY: Should you have gone to prison?
LEE: Pardon me?
PINSKY: Should you have gone to prison?
LEE: No. Wouldn`t have done me a bit of good to go to prison. It`d just probably made me harder. I don`t consider myself a pedophile or a predator, and a lot of people do.
PINSKY: OK. Fair enough.
LEE: I notice that you called me a predator.
PINSKY: No, I said perpetrator.
LEE: OK. There is difference.
PINSKY: There is a difference.
PINSKY: I don`t believe you`re out there predating people, but you behaved like a predator in this situation.
LEE: I did. That situation, how I`ve been paying for it ever since is -- I can see the pain in her eyes. What I`ve done. And I can`t take it back. Once you do something like that, you can never take it back.
PINSKY: All right.
LEE: You`re constantly trying to --
PINSKY: That`s an OK thing.
PINSKY: If it didn`t stay with you, I`d be much more concerned about it, right?
PINSKY: OK. We have to take a break. We have a lot more to talk about. Back with Tracy Ross and Donnie Lee after this.
PINSKY: All right. Now, welcome back, and we`re having a very, very good intense and courageous conversation with Tracy Ross and her step- father, Donnie Lee. He had sexually abused her when she was a child. She confronted him years later about it. She`s written a book about it, and they`re both here discussing this issue right now. Real quick, what was your mom`s reaction to all this and how does she fit into what`s going on now?
ROSS: Her reaction was complete denial.
PINSKY: Is she in denial until this day?
LEE: No, no.
ROSS: She was in denial until she read the book. So -- and she -- I have talked her through it, and she`s now accepting that this is the truth.
PINSKY: Did she have a huge reaction to the book? It must have been emotional for her.
LEE: It was.
PINSKY: Are you two OK?
LEE: Yes. Yes. It`s hard for her to understand why I did such a thing, and she didn`t know the deepness, what really went on, because, you know, when it happened, that was back in a time that where you sweep it under the rug and you don`t talk about things.
PINSKY: Well, that`s one of the things that bother me most about this was -- you were giving her sleeping pills and abusing her, right?
LEE: I gave her a couple. I didn`t give her a whole bunch.
PINSKY: Don`t minimize it.
LEE: Yes, yes.
PINSKY: It`s awful.
PINSKY: And that part -- interestingly, that`s the part she`s now reacting to the most strongly here, it`s the most denying of there being a person there.
PINSKY: It becomes just an object.
PINSKY: How do you -- how do you forgive that and how do you ask for forgiveness for that and should you have gone to prison?
LEE: I -- on that behalf, on the drug thing, yes, I think so.
PINSKY: And why didn`t you?
LEE: It wasn`t brought up until --
PINSKY: This book?
LEE: Two years ago. Yes.
PINSKY: How do you forgive somebody for that?
ROSS: That`s something that I`m still grappling with, because it`s new information.
ROSS: You know, I didn`t know about it. I thought that I had gotten the whole confession after the hike. And so, it was a huge blow to then go back two years later -- you know, two years later with my reporter`s hat on and sit down and ask questions and have this come up. I felt another whole layer of betrayal that "A," I didn`t know that. I thought that we went to the mountaintop and it all came out, and there was this huge, huge piece missing. And "B," that felt like a death sentence to my childhood. It really did.
PINSKY: And yet, when I`m watching you talk about it, you seem sort of energized by it. Somehow, you have command of this peace, like, by finding it out you owned it or something?
ROSS: Well, that`s the whole point of this book is that I -- what it was was a search for truth. And so, what I got out of this, even though, it`s uncomfortable and even though you`re watching me react physically and I`m still not comfortable with it, at least, I know who I am and what happened.
PINSKY: So in a few seconds, I remind people, too, there`s lots of good adventure and fun stories in this book, too, it`s not all heavy. Twenty seconds for people out there who may be suffering from this that are on a similar quest. How can your story help them?
ROSS: I think that I`ve gotten so many letters from people who`ve read this book and said, thank you for doing this for me. Thank you for being brave enough to go and confront your father. And most people never do that. They either cut the relationship off completely, and then, inevitably the person who abuses them dies, and they`re left with this gaping hole.
PINSKY: We could go on for quite a while, and I hope people will look for Tracy and read her book. I appreciate Tracy Ross, Donnie Lee, for being here with us. Thanks for watching. We` will see you next time.