Rumer Willis recalls “panicking” in the next room the night of her mother’s overdose.
We’ve heard Demi Moore’s story, but not from this perspective. On Monday’s new episode of “Red Table Talk” on Facebook Watch, the actress was joined by two of her daughters — Rumer Willis, 31, and Tallulah, 25 — to speak about her struggles with alcohol and drug abuse.
Moore recently opened up about her lifelong battle in her memoir “Inside Out,” in which she took a look back at her life in an effort to figure out how she got to her lowest point: being totally cut off from her family and loved ones after an overdose in 2012.
“I had done so much work on myself and to find myself in a worse place I had ever been, it was like how the f–k did I get here,” Moore recalled thinking on Monday’s episode.
Jada Pinkett Smith then asked Tallulah why she didn’t speak to her mother for three years following the incident.
“What happened was, she relapsed when I was 9 and no one in my family spoke about it and I had no idea what was going on, she had been sober my entire childhood,” she recalled. “And then she drank and then I just knew that I was scared and that she was unsafe and there were many years of saying she was sober and she wasn’t and we couldn’t trust it. And all of the adults around us, in an effort to protect us, were protecting her. So if she wasn’t sober, they would tell her she was.”
Demi said a lot of her downward spiral was due to the miscarriage she had with Ashton Kutcher’s child, paired with her belief she could start drinking again after 20 years of sobriety. “I lived the majority of my adult life sober, I was great sober,” she said. “I wanted to be that girl. I made my own story up, that he wanted somebody he could have wine with and do stuff. He’s not the cause of why I opened that door, I wanted to be something other than who I am. It was literally about giving my power away.”
Rumer recalled feeling “angry” a lot of the time her mother was with Kutcher, because “something that was mine had been taken away.” She said she often felt like she and her sisters “were not enough” for her, and that’s why she wanted another child. “I literally was like, ‘Why are you so desperate to have another kid?'” she said.
“Watching the behavior with Ashton, those years, everyone left the house and it was just me living there. I felt very forgotten,” added Tallulah. “I nurtured a narrative that she didn’t love me and I truly believed it.”
“It was like the sun went down and a monster came,” recalled Tallulah. “The anxiety that would come up in my body when I could sense her eyes shutting a little more, the way she was speaking, she would be a lot more affectionate with me when she was not sober. There were moments it would get angry and I recall being very upset and treating her like a child … She got very angry and it would happen in front of friends.”
While Tallulah didn’t speak with her for three years, the same could not be said for Rumer. She said she acted as sort of the “ambassador” for the family and fielded concerned phone calls from Demi’s friends when she was using. “My family shunned me and called me a traitor for going to talk to her,” said Rumer, who added that she was put in an impossible position between her mother and everybody else.
In January 2012, Moore had an adverse reaction to whip-its at a party and was hospitalized, Rumer was there when it happened.
“I was there, in the other room, with 911 panicking because I’m like, either my mom’s going to die and I’m not gonna be in the room I’m gonna feel the guilt of that for the rest of my life, or I’m going to be there and see this image of my mom that I’ll never get out of my head,” she remembered thinking. “Or I’m going to have to call my sisters in the morning and tell them my mom died and they’re never going to talk to her again.”
After that, Moore entered rehab, but substance abuse only escalated for her daughters.
“At the time, I didn’t have a healthy relationship with alcohol either,” Rumer explained. “When I stopped talking to my mom, then it kicked up into high gear. I started getting anxiety attacks about how bad I was gonna feel the next day. I would be drunk, start hyperventilating and freak out.”
Tallulah said that when she was either 14 or 15, she “guzzled” vodka and “almost died of alcohol poisoning.” She continued to drink heavily, got kicked out of Rumer’s place when she started stealing medication and was moved into the Beverly Hills Hotel by her father, Bruce Willis.
“My dad didn’t understand that once a child graduates from high school, you still have to take care of them,” Tallulah said with a laugh. She recalled snapping at sister Scout for letting her know Bruce’s first child with wife Emma Heming was about to born, after she had done too much cocaine and codeine that morning. Eventually, Rumer and Scout had an intervention and Tallulah moved in with her mother, after being estranged for three years. She also entered treatment.
When Tallulah was in treatment, one family day at the center was the first time she, Rumer, Scout, Bruce and Demi had been together in a long time. As they all began speaking again, Rumer recalled feeling frustrated with her mother, who didn’t understand why they had been estranged for so long.
Noting Demi reached out a lot to her daughters in that time, Rumer said they didn’t accept her invitations because she didn’t seem to be taking accountability for her actions.
“I was defensive at feeling they weren’t seeing me where I was,” said Moore, who acknowledged that while she was doing everything they were asking of her, they still needed time to process everything that had happened in the past.
“I wanted her to show and prove to me that I’m important enough for you to get sober,” said Rumer. “I want you to show me that being in my life is worth more than any drug, any man, anything.”
They all agreed that an issue at the root of their problems was Moore not allowing herself to be vulnerable around her children. “I did a disservice not letting them see me weak,” she said, with which they agreed.
“I felt like my mom made a choice to hold back certain things from sharing about her past and that made me feel very far away from her and made me feel like I didn’t know her very well,” added Tallulah. “I knew she had a career, she met my dad, she grew up in New Mexico and that was it.”
“I don’t believe my mom was raised, she was forged,” she added. “And the strength that comes from that is intimidating, it’s scary.”
Chimed in Willow Smith: “Low key, that’s how I feel about my mom.”
“I think we deified her,” added Tallulah. “She was this larger than life being and I’m completely obsessed with her, I love her more than anything.”
Moore’s book, “Inside Out,” is available now.