Ben Affleck gets choked up talking about Jennifer Garner: 'I never thought I was going to get divorced'

In a rare, sit-down interview with Diane Sawyer for Good Morning America, Ben Affleck opened up about his struggle with sobriety and his heart-breaking divorce from ex-wife Jennifer Garner.

The 47-year-old recounted the first time he found success in sobriety nearly 20 years ago:

"I got sober when I was younger, in 2001, which I now look at as sort of a JV version of what really the problem is. I was sober for a couple of years and then I thought, you know, I want to just drink like a normal person and I want to have wine at dinner and so on. And I was able to. I was able to for about eight years."

Affleck wed Garner in 2005, sharing three kids together -- Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11 and Samuel, 7 -- over the course of their 13-year marriage.

But as Affleck's career continued on an upward trajectory, his mental health and battles with alcoholism began to fall in the opposite direction, taking a toll on both himself and his family:

"I started to drink more and more and it was really hard for me to accept that that meant I was an alcoholic."

Affleck said he would often lie to himself, thinking "I'm ok" and "This isn't me", even though he was "drinking every day" when he would come home after work until he "passed out on the couch".

But as difficult as admitting the depths that his alcoholism had reached was to Affleck, that wasn't the hardest fact he had to come to terms with.

In answering Sawyer's question "What was the hardest thing for you to be honest with yourself about?", Affleck took a long pause before heart-wrenchingly replying, "That I was going to get divorced."

He emotionally continued on:

"I never thought I was going to get divorced -- I didn't want to get divorced, I didn't want to be a divorced person. I really didn't want to be a split family with my children. And it upset me because it meant I wasn't who I thought I was and that was so painful and so disappointing in myself."

Affleck's primary concern and pain stems from the well-being of both Garner and their three children, and that remains his primary motivation to stay sober:

"I really don't want my children to pay for my sins ... or to be afraid for me, which is one of the hard parts of being the child of an alcoholic ... [Parenting is] in the cracks. It's in the moments where you're taking them back from soccer and they say something profound or they talk about how they're really feeling about something ... that's where you get to be a parent. That's the joy of it. And that's what I don't want to miss.

Divorce is very painful and alcoholism [is] very painful -- they just are. If it's something that your child is suffering [from], that's a lot of pain that is just not easily gotten past, not easily forgiven, not easily forgotten and it's hard. You're not going to avoid causing your kids pain ... pain is part of life. I take some comfort in that. I'm doing my very, very best ... it has to be good enough. I don't really have a choice, I have to be the man I want to be at this point. I don't have any more room for failure of that kind."

Sawyer's shared post-interview that though Affleck did not wish to indulge the private details of his relationship with Garner on-screen, he did wish to let the public know one thing he had to say to Garner:

"What I want to say publicly and privately is 'thank you'. Thank you for being thoughtful, considerate, responsible and a great mom and person."

Fans and friends alike continue to root for Affleck, his sobriety and his family.