Meredith Baxter--the actress known for her role as Elyse Keaton on the '80s hit series Family Ties--appeared on the Today show Tuesday to talk about the aftermath of coming out as a lesbian in 2009, and the physical and emotional abuse she says she endured from her ex-husband of 15 years, actor David Birney, both events which she details in her new memoir, Untied.
Baxter told Matt Lauer about her painful childhood, thanks to a self-involved actress mother Whitney Blake:
"I had this deep sense of feeling that I had no value. That I was unloved and unlovable. That was the belief system I developed which really became the engine that dictated everything. Every job, every decision, every relationship."
Lauer asks why Baxter stayed married to Birney, in light of the emotional and physical abuse she claims to have endured, and which Birney denies inflicting (the two had 5 kids together).
"I didn't know I had a choice. I didn't know I could go...it wasn't an accident we were together. For him to be who he needed to be, it had to be someone who was kind of mousy and quiet and retiring, and that's who I was."
As to how she got through it, Baxter says: "You learn to compartmentalize. As soon as I got to the [Family Ties] studio, home life was just not happening. I never talked about it."