Christine McGuinness’ parents split up after she crawled over a needle used to inject heroin during her dad’s ongoing battle with drug addiction.
The 33-year-old has penned heartbreaking details of how her dad’s drug addiction tore her family apart in her new book A Beautiful Nightmare.
Christine, who was recently diagnosed with autism, grew up on a council estate in Merseyside. She and her family now joke that they were “dragged up”.
The TV personality who has three children with comedian Paddy McGuinness described how her bedroom window of their high-rise flat had bars attached to it.
She resorted to stealing a pair of shoes from her local Asda store after she had been bullied at school for wearing shoes with holes in them.
“My childhood was a difficult one – no two ways about it. But I wouldn’t change it – if you haven’t got anything, you don’t miss it.
“Things became hard financially when my mother left my father, when I was a toddler. My dad went down the wrong path and was dabbling in Class-A drugs when he was quite young. I don’t think he realised himself that he was an addict.”
Christine said how her mum got a job as a cleaner in Blackpool when she was a teenager and that’s where she met Johnny, Christine’s dad.
Johnny came from a big family, with Romany gypsy heritage and they fell “madly in love” and had their first child, Billie-Jo when Christine’s mum was 18.
“At first, life seemed great. She was madly in love with my dad and at the time he had a good job as an engineer.
“That happiness wasn’t to last forever, I’m afraid. When I was around one, Mum found out my dad was a heroin addict. My mum longed for the relationship to work, but when I crawled over one of his needles as a toddler, she knew it was over.”
Speaking of her mum’s devastation, she wrote: “It broke her heart. She was engaged to the love of her life, they had two baby girls and she had to leave him to move back Liverpool.”
The mum-of-three said that the split meant that she didn’t see much of her dad when she was a child but he became a part of her life again as she got a bit older.
Christine said she was blissfully unaware of her dad’s addiction woes until she was eight-years-old.
A man approached her in ASDA and said: “You’re Johnny’s daughter, aren’t you?”
When a young Christine replied, he said: “Oh, your dad’s a druggy.”
“And that was the first time I’d heard about it. I didn’t understand what he meant. Did he sell drugs? I thought. What does he mean?” She said.
Looking back, she said: “As a teenager, I struggled with his addiction and lack of interest in my life. I blamed myself. Was it my fault? Was having two children too much for him to cope with?”
Her dad’s apparent lack of interest in her life bothered the star, and was heightened when she became a mum herself.
“Times were hard at home and mum was working as much as she could, just to be able to afford to have the heating on and put food on the table.
“But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised it wasn’t as simple a choice for him. Addiction is an illness and I don’t believe he’ll ever get better.”
She explained how her grandparents have forked out for him to go to get help from the best rehab centres and bought him a flat, but nothing has worked so far.
Christine McGuinness / A Beautiful Nightmare)
“It’s a shame because he’s missed out on so much – birthdays, Christmases – even my wedding day. I’d asked him to walk me down the aisle and he agreed.
“Then came the morning of my wedding and just as I was putting on my dress, I got a call from my auntie who told me he wasn’t coming.”
Her dad’s battles have resulted in her never trying any drugs herself, adding: “I’ve got no hate towards him, and if it’s taught me one thing in life it’s to never have anything to do with drugs.
“My dad and I are on good terms now, and don’t get me wrong, I love him dearly. But I don’t respect him.”
Paddy and their children have never met Johnny, which Christine calls “a real shame” but she added: “It’s the way it has to be.”
* Preorder Christine McGuinness: A Beautiful Nightmare (RRP £20, out 25 Nov) and save £5 with the offer code XA9. Order online at Mirrorbooks.co.uk