Shanna Moakler Endured 'Horrible' Heartbreak and Loss. Now She's Fighting for a New Life: 'My Biggest Regret' (Exclusive)

The former pageant queen opens up to PEOPLE in a wide-ranging interview about her romances with Travis Barker and Oscar De La Hoya, her kids and mental health

<p>courtesy of Shanna Moakler </p> Shanna Moakler

courtesy of Shanna Moakler

Shanna Moakler

She's lived through plenty of headline-making drama through the years, but even Shanna Moakler felt like her life was a mixed-up jigsaw puzzle last year.

Sipping on green tea at the Chateau Marmont during an hours-long interview with PEOPLE in April, the former beauty pageant queen reflects on her mother Gail's death in January 2023, which was followed shortly by the death of her father, John W. Moakler III, just seven months later.

"I was in a very, very dark place. I stopped dieting. I stopped exercising. I just ate like s---. I was so devastated, and I missed my f---ing mom and dad," says Moakler, 49. "I was like, 'I'm going to f---ing eat the pain away."

Related: Shanna Moakler Reveals Her Dad Has Died 7 Months After Losing Her Mom: 'My World Will Never Be the Same'

At the time, "paparazzi were at my front door from the Kardashian media circus with Travis. It was on another level, and I didn't know how to deal," she continues of her ex-husband Travis Barker and his wife Kourtney Kardashian, who was hospitalized in September 2023 while she was pregnant with their son Rocky. "I was sad. And I just missed my parents so much."

It's only in recent months that Moakler feels more like herself again. "I don't think anyone has a clue about who I am," she says, cracking a smile as she acknowledges she began taking Mounjaro, an FDA-approved drug approved to treat Type 2 diabetes that many use off-label for weight loss.

<p>courtesy of Shanna Moakler</p> Shanna Moakler

courtesy of Shanna Moakler

Shanna Moakler

"I'm more than just the ex-wife of famous men. I was Miss USA at 19. I'm smart. Every part I've ever got in any movie, or every show I hosted or auditioned for, I worked my f---ing ass off to get," she emphasizes. "I also don't have to like the f---ing Kardashians, and I'm honestly sick of talking about them. As I stand here today, as a mature woman who's gone through all that... I do not give a f--- what anyone thinks of me anymore. I'm proud of who I am."

Before Moakler married Blink-182 drummer Barker in 2004, the actress and former model dated boxer Oscar De La Hoya. She met the boxing legend, 51, in 1997. "I saw this man walk by me, and all these people were around him. It was so crazy. We just looked at each other, and I knew I met a soulmate," she said in the 2023 HBO documentary The Golden Boy: Oscar De La Hoya.

<p>Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic</p> Oscar de la Hoya (left) and Shanna Moakler (right) in 1999

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Oscar de la Hoya (left) and Shanna Moakler (right) in 1999

Related: Shanna Moakler Recounts Split from Oscar De La Hoya: 'Nothing He Said to Me Was the Truth'

Moakler and De La Hoya moved in together, got engaged and welcomed their daughter, Atiana, now 25. But the relationship suffered when an 18-year-old woman accused De La Hoya of sexual assault amid other rumors of infidelity, and the couple broke off their engagement in 2000. (De La Hoya later reached an out-of-court settlement with the woman, according to The Washington Post.)

"His drinking was always an issue for me," says Moakler, adding that he became a different person when he consumed alcohol. In 2023's The Golden Boy, De La Hoya told host Neil Cavuto he "got into a lot of alcohol and drugs, and I just literally lost myself."

While they were dating, De La Hoya revealed to Moakler that he was a dad to two children with two other women. At the time, the professional boxer wasn't ready for fatherhood. "I basically ran away. I was scared. I was fearful," he told Allison Kugel last year on her podcast about letting Moakler and Barker raise Atiana. "I did try to be a father full-time for a few years, and it was beautiful ... but there came a point where you say to yourself, 'Wait a minute. You're not worthy of this.'"

Related: Oscar De La Hoya Accused of Sexual Assault by Former Tequila Brand Employee: Reports

"The sexual assault stuff was devastating. I just believed him. He was like, 'I never did that. It never happened. They just want my money.' I always stood by my man back then," says Moakler of trying to defend De La Hoya — who has faced two more sexual assault allegations — at the time. "But that's for him and God to deal with now." (A 2019 lawsuit filed by a San Bernardino woman was dismissed in 2020; another woman accused him of sexual assault in 2022, and he has never been charged in court and denied all allegations.)

<p>Denise Truscello/WireImage</p> Shanna Moakler (left) and Travis Barker (right) during Beachers Comedy Madhouse in 2004.

Denise Truscello/WireImage

Shanna Moakler (left) and Travis Barker (right) during Beachers Comedy Madhouse in 2004.

After their breakup Moakler began dating Barker in the summer of 2002, and they became parents to son Landon Asher, now 20, on Oct. 9, 2003. Barker proposed to Moakler on Christmas Eve on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland, and they married at the Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara on Oct. 30, 2004.

Related: Travis Barker and Shanna Moakler's Relationship: A Look Back

Then, just a year later, they welcomed their daughter Alabama Luella, now 18, on Christmas Eve. Their romance was a whirlwind, and Moakler says the relationship was challenging.

In August 2006 Barker filed for divorce after two seasons of their reality show Meet the Barkers. The next day, Moakler wrote on MySpace that she was "very devastated and very much heartbroken" about the separation. "I wanted nothing more [than] to overcome the challenges we faced but failed," she wrote. "I truly believe that everything happens for a reason ... I have been truly blessed with great family and friends and of course my children."

Added Barker at the time: "I'm not in the angry phase at all because I'm still absolutely in love with Shan."

A month later he was reportedly seen kissing Paris Hilton (the two women accused each other of battery following a dustup at a nightclub in 2006), but Barker quickly returned to Moakler. By June 2007 they had broken up again, and in February 2008, their divorce was finalized.

Related: Travis Barker and Shanna Moakler: The Story Behind Their Toxic Relationship

Seven months later, when Barker was severely injured in a plane crash in South Carolina that killed four others onboard, Moakler rushed to be by his bedside. "I was at home — the home he's currently living in now — and I was in bed with our daughter when the phone call came in from the police department," Moakler recalls. "I was so terrified. I was supposed to be on the plane but decided not to go at the last minute and stay with the kids. Then I heard Travis screaming, 'I'm on fire,' and I was like, 'Oh my God.' I was hysterical."

<p>Gregg DeGuire/WireImage</p> Travis Barker (right) and Shanna Moakler (left) at the 33rd American Music Awards in 2005.

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Travis Barker (right) and Shanna Moakler (left) at the 33rd American Music Awards in 2005.

Related: Travis Barker and DJ AM in Jet Crash

After nine days in intensive care, Barker and Moakler traveled back by bus to a burn center in Augusta, Georgia. Later, Moakler said, they rekindled their relationship and were trying for another child. "We wanted another baby. We were going to get married again, but then it just didn't work out. We just couldn't recover," she says of their short-lived reconciliation. "We separated, lived in separate rooms and had separate lives, but we still lived together as a family until 2014."

When Barker began dating Kardashian (they confirmed their relationship on Instagram in February 2021), Moakler says she was shocked. Over the years, Moakler and Barker's increasingly nasty split — including a highly publicized custody battle — often made headlines, but they appeared to be doing their best to coparent over the last few years.

After she spoke out against her ex on Bunnie XO's podcast Dumb Blonde in January, however, Barker ceased all communication, says Moakler.

During the podcast, Moakler had called the Kardashians "disgusting," saying, "I removed myself so that they couldn't bond over my children hating me" and alleged that when Barker started dating Kardashian, there was some "parental alienation going on there." At the time, a friend of the couple told PEOPLE: "Travis and Kourtney don't pay attention to what Shanna's doing. They're so happy in life right now."

<p>Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty</p> Kourtney Kardashian (left) and Travis Barker (right) at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty

Kourtney Kardashian (left) and Travis Barker (right) at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Peacock Theater on January 15, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Now, "we don't speak anymore," says Moakler. "I don't have a relationship with Travis, but I think that's okay. I don't feel like it'll be like that forever, but I feel like right now — I think that's where we are at in our evolution, and maybe in the future, it'll change."

Despite the difficulties she's had in relationships, Moakler believes there's still hope for her to find love and marry again. "I love taking care of a man. I want to grow old and make memories with someone. I want to be healed and whole when I find my person. But I still need to work on myself a lot first," she says. "I watched my mother and father love each other for 53 years. I totally believe that there are wonderful men out there who can be kind, faithful and communicate, and who are not addicts."

Pausing for a moment, she reflects on her two exes. "You know, Travis and Oscar are very similar. They were both propelled to fame, and I was with them both at the height of their careers. They both were very poor. They both yearn for power, money and fame, and they are similar in that way," she says. "But I'm not looking to date that kind of man anymore."

<p>courtesy of Shanna Moakler</p> Shanna Moakler

courtesy of Shanna Moakler

Shanna Moakler

Taking another sip of tea, she exhales. "Honestly, I just don't care about my exes at the moment. I don't care about Oscar or Travis," she emphasizes. "I know I'm talking about it here with you — and I really can't do anything without talking about it — because it's just kind of stuck with me, which is fine. But I really care more about just healing from the loss of my family and my support system, and just really trying to find out what my next move in life is. I'm an empty nester and turning 50, and I'm just trying to find my place in the world again without my parents or a partner."

<p>Jeffrey Mayer/WireImge</p> Shanna Moakler and children Alabama Barker (front), Atiana de la Hoya (left) and Landon Barker (right) in 2010

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImge

Shanna Moakler and children Alabama Barker (front), Atiana de la Hoya (left) and Landon Barker (right) in 2010

For Moakler, the most difficult part of the public drama has been the impact on her relationships with her kids. "I'm not a deadbeat mom. I have a very close relationship with my children who are now adults, and I have been present in their lives, except during Covid lockdown," she says of Landon and Alabama, who previously "liked" a post on Instagram slamming bad moms. "They have both taken back what they said about me and apologized."

While she doesn't regret starring on reality TV, Moakler feels it didn't help the narrative that she wasn't involved in raising her kids. "Meet the Barkers does not dictate me as a mother. I was rocking three babies under the age of five and pregnant all of one season and up at all hours," she says. "I did not sleep all the time. It was a TV show 20 years ago. Bama has been staying at my house until the time she was 18. We share a very special relationship, and Landon is a great drummer and a lead singer. My oldest daughter was born and raised in the Oaks, and I love her."

<p>courtesy of Shanna Moakler</p> Shanna Moakler

courtesy of Shanna Moakler

Shanna Moakler

Moakler — who is a spokesperson for Tahoe Blue vodka (she partnered with founder and CEO Matt Levitt for the sugar and gluten-free vodka option) insists she's not looking to engage in any more public "fights" with Barker, and she's spending her time meditating, journaling and planning her next moves.

She's trying to direct and star in both scripted and reality shows, and is continuing to work as a director in pageantry while helping other women achieve their dreams of becoming Miss USA.

"I used to care so much what people thought of me. I was stereotyped as the dumb blonde. I wanted to show everyone I had personality and substance. But I'm done with that," she says. "I want my children to have self-love and know their worth and value. I gave up so much to support other men, their goals and their dreams, and I will never do it again."

It's been a rocky journey, but "I think had to go through all that to be where I am right now. I feel very confident. I'm optimistic about my future. I feel very lucky I got through it," she says, smiling. "I want to be the light at the end of the dark tunnel of awful breakups and horrible divorces. And I never want to diminish my light or my self-esteem. It's my biggest regret."

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