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Chelsea Handler Says She Struggled With Abandonment After Brother's Death

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While promoting her new book, Life Will Be the Death of Me: … and you too!, on Tuesday’s episode of “The View,” Comedian Chelsea Handler got real about the childhood trauma she experienced.

She shared that when she was 9 years old, her older brother died while on vacation at age 22. She said at the time she was upset to see him leave. He promised he would come back and “never leave” her with her parents.

“And he died. He never came back,” Handler said. “I know it’s easy for anybody to look at my situation and be like, ‘Oh, of course she has commitment issues, or abandonment, attachment issues,’ but for me, you don’t see yourself.”

Handler, who is an ardent Democrat, told hosts of “The View” that she only started to work through this past trauma after Donald Trump was elected president. She said:

It was after the election when I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown because this man is president and I realized what he signified was actually what happened during my childhood, when it became undone. And when my whole world fell apart and when I lost the two most important men in my life.

The two men she refers to are her brother and her father, who she told USA Today “never recovered” from his death.

Handler has never shied away from talking about the shortcomings of her father and disclosing personal details about her childhood. In her new book, she reveals that her father had a secret child with another woman while engaged to her mother.

“My father is not the most honest, upright citizen. And that’s why he reminds me so much of Donald Trump,” she quipped on “The View.” “So yes, we have a brother… He grew up without a dad because my dad just thought he didn’t have to deal with that and wanted to focus on the family he did have.”

In therapy Handler was able to work through these parts of her past and allow herself to “be honest” with herself instead of acting like she had it all together when she was in pain. She said:

For me the biggest lesson was learning that I had a right to be in pain. I thought because I had a TV show and because I had books in my name and that I’m successful, that I have no reason to complain, that I don’t have any time to sit around and go talk to a therapist because that’s “narcissistic…” We’re all suffering from something and it’s important to get it out because there is no shortcut around pain, you can only go through it.

Handler hopes her new book can help people who are struggling, even folks who may not have access to or be able to afford therapy.

“I want to make a difference. I don’t want to just cash checks for being a loudmouth, that’s not gonna be OK enough for me, you know?” she said. “Now this is something that I can overshare that’s of import and means something because I know so many people are struggling and so many people don’t have the affordability or luxury to go to a therapist.”

If you have lived through childhood trauma and are struggling to heal, you’re not alone. For more support, check out the following stories:

If you don’t feel like you have supportive people in your life, you can always reach out on The Mighty by posting a Thought or Question with the hashtag, #CheckInWithMe.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/ Tabercil

Originally published: April 10, 2019
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