04/17/2011 at 11:00 AM EDT
For David Arquette, humility came at a stunning price. His separation from
wife Courteney Cox
sent the actor into an emotional tailspin that revealed a man simultaneously desperate for attention
and devoted to
his fractured family.
But with more than 100 days of sobriety behind him and an understanding of the struggle that lies ahead, Arquette is ready to move forward, warts and all.
"I went through a really hard time, and my way of dealing with it was just to blow it all up," the Scream 4
star, 39, told PEOPLE Saturday at Hollywood Bites Back. "I did act childish[ly], but at the same time I had to – I was really hurt. It was hard for me to deal with this, but what I had to do ultimately was step back and take a look at myself."
That look revealed to Arquette aspects of his personality that he wasn't ready to come to terms with, instead burying them under a thick veneer of substance abuse
. Thankfully, things are different now.
"I'm really getting in touch with my feelings, and trying to process them in a more appropriate way," Arquette explains. "It's easy to numb them, but it's more fulfilling to feel them. I don't have a desire to drink."
Instead, the actor is focusing on himself – and a few unanswered questions.
"My big deal is me starting to look at who I really am," says Arquette. "I was living up to ideals that weren't necessarily who I am. What am I good with? What makes sense for me? Where's my true voice? I'm still learning."