“You know, I think I had a lot more rage than I was aware of,” O’Donnell says in the October issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, on newsstands Sept. 13. “But I’ve gotten back access to my other feelings. I’m not cut off from my emotions anymore … The rage has gone away … There’s been a healing.”
O’Donnell, 49, credits one medical fix that changed everything.
“I had, like, zero estrogen,” she says. “And since I got some, I’ve been able to function more normally. I’ve stopped being so angry.”
She says she’s ready to tackle the next chapter in her life – one that includes talk-show titan and old pal Oprah Winfrey, who will soon be welcoming O’Donnell to her network, OWN, for a new talk show.
“In 25 years of doing my show only one competitor ever seriously challenged me in the ratings: Rosie O’Donnell,” Winfrey says. “From the day Rosie took her place among the crowded field of talk show hosts, I knew she had the ‘It’ thing.”
O’Donnell says her move to Chicago for the new show is “a new beginning for me. For the first time in a long time, I’m excited.”
But she also addresses past chapters in the issue (whose cover she shares with Winfrey).
Speaking about her marriage in 2004 and subsequent split in 2007 from Kelli Carpenter, she says it was “Humbling. And humiliating … In the O’Donnell family, no one had ever been divorced.”
Their differences, she says, made it too hard to keep going.
“She wanted to play tennis at the country club, and I don’t do country clubs. I tried,” says O’Donnell, who went on to have a relationship with Tracy Kachtick-Anders, 47, who has six children of her own. “They made an exception for a gay family, and we joined. It was a big thing: ‘They let in a gay family – whoo!’ So I show up to play with her, and somebody comes out and says, ‘You can’t play unless you have tennis whites.’ “
As for the years she was in the spotlight before revealing she is gay, she says, “The only people who didn’t know were the audience” of her former talk show.
The devoted mom of four children – Parker, 16, Chelsea, 14 this month, Blake, 11, and Vivienne, 8 – also confesses to having some fierce mama-bear instincts.
“I would die for any of my children, and, more importantly, I would live for any of them,” she says.