"But at the holidays, everything got erased," she said of her hardships.
Mariah Carey opened up about the varied experiences that made her the bonafide musical icon she is today.
In the latest issue of Billboard, the elusive chanteuse discussed how her difficult childhood shaped how she looked at holidays -- resulting in her current Queen of Christmas title -- and touched on why working with Whitney Houston on a duet put their feuding rumors to rest.
"I grew up looking forward to the holidays all year long, but because I have such a tragically dysfunctional family, certain family members or ex-family members would ruin it every year," she began. "As an adult, what I've tried to do is take what I always wished Christmas would be and have the perfect holiday season."
And she's made many fans enjoy what she envisioned, as her modern day holiday classic "All I Want For Christmas" hit number one on the charts this week, 25 years after its debut.
"For me, it's not just making a Christmas album for the sake of jumping on a bandwagon. It's literally exorcising the demons that I had to battle as a child and coming out still feeling festive," she explained.
Mariah went on to share how her mother would do the best she could with a limited budget back in the day and would "wrap up fruit in newspaper" for a gift, saying it was from the family's pet cat.
"[My mother] is the reason why I love Christmas so much. She got me into it. My dad wasn't into it -- my parents were divorced. But she was super festive and tried really hard even though we had no money," said Carey.
Growing up, Mariah felt she was "not worthy of love" from her mother's side of the family, but Christmas time helped her work through it.
"The fact is, her Irish family disowned us. I'm not going to get into it -- it was a different time -- but to her mom, that she married a black man was the biggest affront that could ever happen," she explained. "But at the holidays, everything got erased. I just focused on the holidays. You can drown in negativity, or you can push past it."
The "Fantasy" hitmaker then went on to share her memories of her 1991 Academy Awards performance of "When You Believe" with Whitney Houston and how it was one for the books.
"Working with Whitney was an experience I'll never forget,” she said. "It was a bonding experience. Before that when we did the video, we really put all the rumors and nonsense behind us that there was a feud."
"There was nothing, we didn't know each other. Once we knew each other, we had the best time together and I was honored to work with her, so when I look at this picture, I'm really proud that we had this moment together," she detailed.
As for what Mariah wants this year for Christmas, she simply said, "Peace on earth."