Very Cavallari star and celebrity hairstylist Justin Anderson is opening up about his father's unexpected passing earlier this year for the first time.
During Anderson's appearance on Dear Media's podcast Real Pod, the beauty expert got candid about his dad's struggle with alcoholism, which led to his death in January at age 64. "This is the first time I probably say this out loud. My dad died three weeks ago. He couldn't beat his addiction," Anderson said.
The hairstylist, 40, explained that throughout his life, his father, Michael Anderson, went "in and out of rehab forever." He continued, "[My family] always lived in Southern California. He ended up moving to Oklahoma and he essentially took his own life. He's been struggling with this addiction."
Anderson went on to say that his dad's sudden passing is "something I'm dealing with now," but because of it, his family started to have long-overdue conversations together. "It's hard. I wish we could have gotten deeper as a family, [because] we weren't able to talk about it. But I feel complete with the conversations that we're having now."
At the time of his father's death, Anderson shared an Instagram tribute writing, "Yesterday my siblings and I lost our dad unexpectedly. Losing our favorite beach boy is a different kind of blow from life, because no one loves you like a parent."
Adding that as an adult he considered it "the biggest compliment" when he was compared to him. "Growing up my dad was the coolest guy that my friends and I knew."
The star, who grew up in a Mormon household but has since left the church, said as he started going to therapy, he has been able to recognize that "addiction is a real disease," which he "didn't do a lot" when he was younger.
"It was like, 'Why don't you just quit? Give it up.' But there's something so much deeper to it. It's a disease and not so many people can just switch it on-and-off," he said.
"My dad had his own issues. From growing up, he had things happen in his life that he didn't get proper therapy for or deal with. It would always trigger his addiction," Anderson continued. "I know my dad loved me. I know he had a great life. I know he's in a better place now. I'm happy that he's not suffering."
Anderson previously opened up about his family dynamics and what it was like coming out as a gay man while being a member of the Mormon church during an episode of the podcast, Scissoring Isn't a Thing.
"When I fully came out of the closet to my parents and we started having real conversations, my parents just really started thinking about the church and just like what have we been doing all these years. Why have we been faking it?" Anderson said.
Soon after, Anderson's family left Mormonism behind and started attending a nondenominational Christian church instead. Reflecting on his family's decision to leave the Mormon church, Anderson (who came out his junior year of college) said, "I feel like in religion when one of your kids comes out and you love that kid, it's like you got to support them, and it makes you question a lot of things about religion in general."
"My dad's this big burley guy but he is the sweetest teddy bear in the world. And I remember when I told him that I was gay, first I told my mom and my mom's like, 'Oh wait 'til you tell your dad.' And so, I told my dad and my dad gave me the biggest hug. He literally said to me, 'Justin you have always made everyone in your family, your cousins and everyone, so happy and feel accepted and everyone loves you. And if anyone doesn't give that back to you, they're not worth your time. You need to always be exactly who you are because you set yourself up for this.' He was so sweet about it."
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
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