Olivia Boone had a normal childhood—or so she thought—until she learned what was actually going on in her house. Her father was an alcoholic and drug addict, but Boone didn't know this until just a couple of years ago.
For Boone, when her father was angry, it was likely because he was having a bad day. When her brother would take her sister and her into a room, turn on a video-game, and turn up the volume really loud, it was just her brother being a normal loud kid. Boone never thought too much about this until 7th grade. That year in school, Boone learned about the effects alcohol and drugs have on people, and she started to realize that those things she thought were normal were actually signs of substance abuse by her father.
“When I was younger, my mom was not a huge makeup fan. She would wear very little, but if my father hit her the night before, the next day she would wear a lot more makeup than usual, and I had always wondered why. Now I understand,” Boone explains.
Her mother kept all of this a secret as a way to protect her and her siblings.
“There were two separate lives: me trying to cover up his addictions, keep him busy, keep you guys as busy as possible, but also work two or three jobs so that I could maintain your guys' level of activities so that you would never know there was anything going on,” Tara Wallace, Boone's mother, explains to her.
Boone is not alone. A recent study by Harvard Medical School estimates that one in five American children live in homes where someone misuses alcohol or has a substance use disorder.
Wallace knew about her then-husband's substance abuse problem even before they got married. A week before the wedding, Boone's father was involved in a high-speed car chase that resulted in him losing his license. At that point, Wallace said that she had some doubts about following through with the wedding, but that, in the end, the love she felt for him was stronger. And it was that same love, but for her children, that made her keep all of this a secret.
“I have always said, ‘my mom is a strong hero.' Today, I now know why. She is strong because of what she had to put up with for almost fourteen years of her life,” Boone explained.
Boone's father has not been in the picture for a while now. However, two years ago, Boone reached out to her father to try and reconnect and rebuild their relationship. She said that with what she knows now, she is not sure how long it will take her to trust him again.