While much has been said about Brad Pitt and his ex-wife Angelina Jolie since their high-profile divorce nearly a year ago, little of the dialogue has come from the couple themselves. All that changed this week as Pitt finally spoke up about the relationship, quitting drinking and the legacy he hopes to leave behind.

“The first urge is to cling on,” Pitt told GQ Style when speaking about his divorce. “And then you’ve got a cliché: ‘if you love someone, set them free.’ Now I know what it means by feeling it. It means to love without ownership. It means expecting nothing in return.”

But it took sometime for Pitt to come to this realization. “But it sounds good written. It sounds good when Sting sings it. It doesn’t mean f–k-all to me until you live it.”

More than just learning to live in this new reality with Jolie, Pitt is most worried about his kids, how he has treated them in the past, and how he will treat them in the future.

“People on their deathbeds don’t talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets – that seems to be the menu. I saw that as someone who’s let the work take me away. Kids are so delicate. They absorb everything. They need to have their hand held and things explained. They need to be listened to. When I get in that busy work mode, I’m not hearing. I want to be better at that,” Pitt said.

Jolie filed for divorce quickly after an altercation between Pitt and the couples eldest son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, made headlines and prompted an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

“I’m personally very retarded when it comes to taking inventory of my emotions. I’m much better at covering up,” Pitt said, when speaking about the person he is around his family. “I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality – the father is the all-powerful, super strong – instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles. And it’s hit me smack in the face with our divorce.”

Pitt still has hope for the future though, despite a regretful past. “I gotta be more. I gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it.

Part of his transformation involves quitting drinking alcohol. When Pitt first became a father, he quit smoking marijuana and cigarettes but hung onto alcohol.

“I mean I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know – things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem. And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again,” Pitt said.

While he denies going through a mid-life crisis, Pitt does feel that he has begun a new chapter. He no longer feels like he is an actor and that now, the craft that brought him fame is only a very little part of his life. He has instead taken to pottery and making things out of wood.

But he is mindful of the legacy he will leave behind although he knows he will have only a little say in how it is ultimately written.

“What did Churchill say? History will be kind to me: I know because I’ll write it myself. I don’t really care about protecting the narrative,” said Pitt. “That’s when I get a bit pessimistic, I get in my oh-it-all-goes-away-anyway kind of thinking. But I know the people who love me know me. And that’s enough for me.”

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