Back in 2009, actress Mackenzie Phillips shocked the entertainment world with her book “High on Arrival,” in which she detailed a decade-long drug-fueled sexual relationship with her father, Mamas and the Papas singer John Phillips.
The paperback version of “High on Arrival” is out now and Mackenzie appeared on “Today” Tuesday (Feb. 22) to talk about a new chapter in that version where she addresses how the revelation and scandal affected her family.
“I expected certainly people to go, ‘Oh my god, that’s so crazy.'” says Phillips. “What I didn’t expect was the deeply cruel things that were said. You know, ‘Oh, Mackenzie Phillips banged her dad.’ … It was a double-edged sword. I learned a lot about the dynamic of an incestuous relationship from a community of survivors, a community I didn’t really consider I belonged to.
“I learned from people like Dr. Drew and from other survivors all around the world that there is no such thing as consensual incest,” Phillips continues. “What I have found, what I’ve come to realize is that I was sort of groomed to believe that it was consensual. That I was complicit in some way. That because I didn’t scream and fight and that I participated that made me at fault and of course, that is the huge thing that all incest survivors suffer from, is taking a portion of the shame and guilt on their own backs.”
“Today’s” Meredith Vieira asks Mackenzie what her family reaction was to the revelations in her book, which have not been positive, including disinviting Mackenzie to Thanksgiving weeks after the scandal broke back in 2009.
“Denial. They’ve all known about it for years, so the family members that come out and say it isn’t true, she’s crazy, are a textbook case of the way a family reacts to incest within the family,” says Phillips.
“It’s been really hard. It’s been really hard to not have my sisters and my brothers and my ‘wicked ex-stepmother’ with whom I’ve been very close over the years, to have them basically just say ‘That’s it, we’re done with you.'”
Vieira asks Mackenzie why she waited to write the book after her father John was dead and therefore not around to defend himself.
“If I had written it while he was alive, people would’ve said, ‘Why didn’t you wait until he was dead?’ I have a story. It is my story. I went out of my way not to tell [her stepmother] Michelle’s story or [sisters] Chynna’s or Bijou’s or anybody else’s but my own. And now they’re still trying to tell stories about me.”
“I love my family. I sit here with open arms, hoping they’ll come back into my life. I love them, I miss them,” says Phillips. “But the other day my 24-year-old son Shane said to me, ‘Mom, Don’t you realize how much better our life is, in a way, without them? Without the drama, without the family in-fighting?’ It’s so simple now. We just have a good time and play with the dogs and make music and I’m grateful for a simple life.”