Fonda Says She's Overcome Her 'Disease to Please'

Jane Fonda has worn almost as many hats as the characters she's played. She's a two-time Oscar-winning actress, an outspoken political and social activist, and an exercise guru.

Fonda's unflinching autobiography, "My Life So Far," hits bookstores today, and she told "Good Morning America's" Diane Sawyer that behind the seemingly self-assured Jane Fonda was another Jane Fonda who had strength in everything except her personal life.

"There was a continuity of courage in every way except behind closed doors in my most intimate relationships, where I would give up my strength and my courage because I didn't want to be left," Fonda said.

The 'Disease to Please'

Fonda's book is divided into three "acts." Act one covers her often painful childhood, her early films and her turbulent marriage to filmmaker Roger Vadim. In act two, she begins to discover her activism and discusses her marriages to Tom Hayden and Ted Turner.

And now, at 67, she says she is in her third act, trying to live a more honest life and sharing the lessons she has learned about overcoming self-image problems and dealing with men.

In the book, Fonda talks about growing up with her famous, distant father, Henry Fonda, and a depressive mother who eventually committed suicide, and how those family dynamics influenced her relationships with men and her body image.

Fonda battled bulima for over 20 years, even when she was building her workout empire. She told Sawyer she would binge and purge up to eight times a day.

"I think when as a girl what is communicated to you is that you have to be perfect in order to be loved, you kind of, well, at least I moved out of myself, and left a hollow being," Fonda said. "And I filled it with anxiety and I filled it with food. Some people fill it with food or drugs or gambling or booze or shopping, but I filled it with food."

Fonda eventually overcame bulima, but all three of her marriages -- to Vadim, 1960s activist Hayden, and media mogul Turner -- were afflicted by what she called the "disease to please."

Trouble with Men

Fonda writes candidly about her marriage to Vadim, who directed her in "Barbarella," and how she solicited other women to join them in bed, thinking it would please him and keep them together.

"I mean, to me, it's such dramatic example of the lengths to which I went -- as other women and girls do today even -- in order to be accepted if she feels she's not good enough," Fonda told Sawyer.

Fonda admits Vadim never forced her to go out and find other women but said it is just an indication of "how insidious misogyny is."

The breakups of her other two marriages were difficult as well. Hayden told her he was in love with another woman before they separated, and Fonda said that Turner was unfaithful just a month into their marriage.

"I left him and then I forgave him and we got back together," she said of Turner. "And he never betrayed me again, until the end, when he knew that the marriage was falling apart, and he needed to find my replacement."

In her book, she writes that as she left Turner's plane when the relationship was ending, another woman was waiting in the hangar ready to board it. "My seat was still warm," she writes.

Activist Mistakes

In July 1972, Fonda traveled to North Vietnam to protest against the Vietnam War. There Fonda was photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft gun. It was a "complete lapse of judgment" that she regrets.

"The image is what it was, and it did not reflect what was in my heart or my experience," she said. "I wanted to end the killing. It wasn't my war. I didn't lie to people. I didn't send troops over there. I was trying to expose it, to end the war."

She told Sawyer that she would do it all again -- except for sitting on the gun.

In Her Third Act

Now a grandmother, Fonda lives in Atlanta and has founded an organization, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, whose aim is to empower teenage girls and prevent unwanted adolescent pregnancy.

She has also become a Christian (a "feminist Christian," she says), has quit drinking (15 months now) and had her breast implants removed.

Perhaps most significantly, she has returned to acting after a 14-year hiatus. She will appear in the forthcoming film "Monster-in-Law" with Jennifer Lopez, which will be released May 13.

Fonda also says she has very little bitterness toward her ex-husbands or the men in her life.

"I don't blame," she said. "You know, that's no way to go forward in life is to blame. All of my men were … were wonderful, and I learned a lot from them."

In her third act, Fonda says she is looking back on the first two and learning from them.

"It started when I was 60," she said. "That's why … I have written my book in three acts, and my third act I call the beginning, because that's what it feels like. It took a while, but that's the good news."