Meredith Vieira: "I Never Felt Good Enough About Myself"

The former Today cohost opens up about why she left the show and what she plans to do now that she has

Meredith Vieira is beginning a new chapter of her life. The popular TV host left the Today show in June, after nearly five years, in order to spend more time with her family. Now in a very personal interview with Good Housekeeping, Vieira talks about the pressures that led up to her decision -- including the intense stress she put on herself.

"This might be a Type A–personality trait, but I never felt good enough about myself," admits Vieira, 57. "I could be better at this, I could be better at that. I could look better. My work could be better..." she says. "I feel I always have to work harder, I have to impress all the time. Impress whom? With what? People say, 'Just be yourself.' Well, my anxiety is that people aren't going to want that."

Hard to believe that a woman as accomplished as Vieira could feel that way! But the former moderator of The View says that her insecurity caused her to stay at Today, even as the demanding schedule was taking a toll on her health.

"I've always said, 'Life takes you down different paths, and you can't keep the job purely for the sake of the job.' Yet I found myself, toward the end, feeling insecure about what would happen to me when I didn't have 'cohost of Today' tagged onto the end of my name," says Vieira.

"I ran out of those excuses, but just an hour after I left the show, I went, Wow. I won't have a place to go. I won't have an audience, and I won't have the perks that you get used to. Oh, well, I'm going to be just Meredith Vieira again, with everything that comes with that."

These days, Vieira says she's still trying to figure out how to define herself without a high-profile job: "I guess I define myself as a mother, a wife, kind of a nutty person," she says with a laugh. She's concentrating on re-connecting with friends and devoting time to family, including her children Ben, 22 (a recent college grad), Gabe, 19, and Lily, 18 (who just finished high school), and her husband Richard Cohen, 63. However, Vieira wants to clear up reports that she retired to care for her husband, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

"Family and health factored into my decision, but it's not like Richard is taking some turn for the worse," she explains. "I was more leaving because he's healthy. So why not while we are able to enjoy life? He has secondary-progressive MS; we don't know what's going to happen. Every year, it's a little bit worse. On the other hand, he's doing great compared to a lot of people. And he's certainly self-sufficient. I mean, the idea that I'm nursing him is ridiculous."

As for the future, Vieira says that she "can't wait to have grandchildren," but she's not rushing anything. As she tells GH, time is the thing she most treasures right now: "If I've learned anything from having chronic illness in our family, it's that time is the one thing you can't get back." Wise words, indeed.

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