“I’m just having a bad day,” Valerie said in a video response to queries. “Sometimes we have bad days, and then we get over them, and then there’s a good day. So I’m looking forward to the good day.” It can’t come soon enough.
Valerie recently signed papers to end her 11-year marriage to financial planner Tom Vitale. The divorce comes on top of the heartbreaking 2020 death of Eddie Van Halen, her first husband and the father of her son, musician Wolf Van Halen.
“It’s been a trying time. Losing Eddie, splitting from Tom, and her food and body issues seemed to all have collided at once,” explains a friend to Closer exclusively. “She just wants peace of mind.”
Valerie, 62, first captured America’s heart as a teenager on One Day at a Time and has always been frank about her personal struggles. In her recent book, Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today, she addresses her devastation over Eddie’s death and her troubles with overeating and self-esteem.
“The thing I have been looking for can’t be quantified,” says the star, who vows to be kinder to herself. “I want to feel true joy inside, and that is very different from wanting to feel thin or to see a certain number on the scale.”
In truth, Valerie has every reason to feel lost right now — and it has nothing to do with what she weighs. “Eddie’s death turned her life upside down,” explains the friend. “But it woke her up to issues she was suppressing — like her marriage to Tom.”
Valerie’s brother introduced her to Tom in 2004. “He really got me first with his sense of humor. He made me laugh a lot,” gushed Valerie before their 2011 wedding. “He’s really special.” Tom also praised his bride as “a beautiful woman, intelligent, kind.” What went wrong?
“We have drifted from the interests that made us a couple and found that those differences can’t be fixed,” says Valerie. “The paths we thought we were on changed.”
Her friend adds that the roots of their estrangement took hold long before Eddie’s passing in October 2020. “Valerie and Tom didn’t do the work to stay together,” says the friend, who adds that Valerie is okay with that. “She’s older, more mature, and although it’s difficult, she knows she’ll get through it.”
Confident that she’s made the right choice in ending her marriage, Valerie is ready to begin the next phase of her life. She loves cooking on her Food Network show, for which she’s won two Daytime Emmys.
She also enjoys a warm, strong relationship with her son, Wolf. “She looks at her life and knows it’s not that bad,” says the friend. “She’s grateful to have Wolf in her world and is proud that she’s facing her fears. Her motto today is, ‘It’s not how you fall down, but how you pick yourself up.’”
Valerie may not have all the answers, but she’s sure she will figure it out as she goes along. “Nobody is perfect,” she says. “Kindness and forgiveness clear the skies, feed our souls, and help us to sleep soundly. Life is precious.”