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Ben Affleck is opening up about the pain that came with his 2018 divorce from Jennifer Garner. In an interview with Diane Sawyer for Good Morning America, the 47-year-old actor reveals that, throughout his struggles with alcohol, the hardest thing for him to be honest with himself about was that he "was gonna get divorced." Affleck and Garner share three children, Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11, and Samuel, 7.
"I never thought that I was gonna get divorced. I didn't want to get divorced. I didn't want to be a divorced person. I really didn't want to be a split family with my children," he said while getting choked up. "And it upset me because it meant I wasn't who I thought I was. And that was so painful and so disappointing in myself."
Affleck, who witnessed his aunt, grandmother and father's struggle with alcohol, never thought he'd put his kids in a similar situation. He even got sober in 2001, though he now considers that a "sort of a JV version of what the problem really is." Even though his sobriety lasted "a couple of years" he eventually wanted to "drink like a normal person." That decision, though, led him to the point where he would drink till he "passed out on the couch" every day.
"For me seeing my dad was just, he was drunk every day and that was just life. And then as that got worse, that was really, really painful," he said. "And I always said, 'That'll never be me. I'm never gonna do that.'"
"I wish he had been sober during those formative years, but what he's taught me is how important it is for me to be sober now during these formative years for my kids," Affleck added.
As his kids continue to grow up, Affleck said that he doesn't want them to "pay for my sins or to be afraid for me."
"[That] is one of the hard parts of being the child of an alcoholic," he said. "Do you think, 'What if my dad gets drunk? What if he does something stupid? What if he ends up on TMZ and it's on my news feed and other kids see it?'"
The 2019 TMZ video Affleck alluded to -- one that he said he watched some of, but mostly avoided because "I know what it looks like to be drunk" -- led the actor to enter rehab for the second time in three years.
"I took the last half of the year off and I just got to be dad. Drive them to school, pick them up. Go to the swim meet, come home. That's where the parenting happens," he said. "It's in the cracks. It's in the moments when you're just taking them back from soccer and they say something profound or they talk about how they're really feeling about something and it's like that's where you get to be the parent. That's the joy of it. And that's what I don't want to miss."
Despite his best efforts, Affleck said he's accepted that "pain is a part of life."
"Divorce is very painful and alcoholism is very painful. They just are. If there's something that your child is suffering, that's a level of pain that is not easily gotten past, not easily forgiven, not easily forgotten. And it's hard," he said. "You're not going to avoid causing your kids pain, all pain. Pain is part of life. I take some comfort in that."
"I'm doing my very, very best... It has to be good enough. I don't really have a choice," he continued. "I have to be the man I want to be at this point. I don't have anymore room for failure of that kind."