The actress touches on her emotional relationship and marriage to the late rock star, who died in 2020, in her new memoir, Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today. The process of digging into her past, she told ET's Nischelle Turner, incorporated "a lot of tears" but was also "very cathartic."
"I was able to really speak to it and not shove all of the grief down. I am so used to shoving all of my feelings down and not feeling them and using food so I wouldn't have to deal with my feelings," Bertinelli, 61, explained. "And I think it was extremely cathartic. I would advise it to anybody, if you are going through a really strong feeling, write it down. It really, really does help."
Bertinelli and Van Halen began dating in 1980, before getting married eight months later. They welcomed son Wolfgang in 1991. In 2005, the actress filed for divorce, four years after separating. Over the years, Bertinelli has admitted that the Van Halen co-founder was her soulmate.
"I think it is OK to speak in regrets. Regrets, like mistakes, is how we learn. I have plenty of regrets. I wish I could have spent more time with Ed. I think you have more than one soulmate. I think souls come here to learn and grow with each other, so I think there is a familiarity with certain people that was like, 'I get this person' and I think that is part of what a soulmate is," she explained. "But I think with Ed, it was something really much deeper and I think our love turned into something more about soul love."
She especially wishes she would have spent more time with her first husband. "When he was living in that big house alone for the last year of his life... I would have loved to have been over there more but then we had COVID," she recalled. "Because I did not want to get him sick, even though I was not sick. We did not know so much the first year of COVID."
Following their divorce, Bertinelli went on to marry Tom Vitale, while Van Halen wed Janie Liszewski in 2009. Before his death, the Hot in Cleveland star admitted to having a deep conversation with Van Halen, where they said "everything that we needed to say to each other and how much we really, truly loved each other."
"I think it was before that, I was just, I really want to get into this. I don't want to hear about everything that's going on with him and Janie. He doesn't want to hear everything that's going on with me and my husband. So we just treated it as just us, together," she reminisced.
And while their love was a magical one, Bertinelli doesn't believe she and Van Halen would have ever gotten back together.
"Oh, I don't know. We had been through so, so much. We were so close, but I just, I don't know, I mean, a lot of stuff happened between us that I don't know that we could get that romantic love ever back again," she admitted. "We had a deeper love that I appreciate even more, but I don't think so. And I don't think he felt that way as well. It was just deeper than that."
Bertinelli, meanwhile, further reveals details about her and Van Halen's final moments before his death, as well as her struggles with body image and weight. As for why Enough Already was the perfect title, she shared, "Because you can look at it both ways, it's, 'Enough already!' Like, enough with the negative self-talk, and the number on the scale. It never made me happy anyway no matter what the number was. And enough already. I am enough. I am enough already, so stop."
Among the most vulnerable parts for her to write were, "What was happening while Ed was dying and Wolfie's take on it."
"I wanted to make sure that Wolfie was OK with me being so personal, so I did let him read some of the parts where he is involved, and he was OK with it. So I thought it would be OK for other people to read it," she noted. "Because I know a lot of people have been dealing with grief for the last few years just like I have. And I think it might help so that you don't feel so alone, so that you know how other people walk through grief as well."
With so much past life to dig into, Bertinelli is at a point where she's enjoying the walk and not worried about the destination.
"I [was] always worried about the destination and getting there, and you know what? There is no destination," she expressed. "Like the old adage says, it's all in the journey. It truly is…I am not a light switch kind of girl. Things don't just happen for me. I am more of like a dimmer, slowly going on. And the dimmer is getting brighter."
Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today is out now.
To watch ET's full interview with Bertinelli, tune in to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday. Check your local listings here.