She told Good Housekeeping magazine: "My mom had some really bad things happen in her life, and she’s a trouper. She’s tougher than I am, I’d say. When my parents divorced, it was my mother and me, by ourselves in an apartment. At that point, we kind of became roommates. I was 13 years old. She’d been married for almost 20 years, and I watched her go through a tough time, trying to date, trying to figure things out.
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"She dated some horrible men whom I had to kick out of the house. So, at 13, I kind of became an adult and was taking care of her … watching her struggle. It made me go, 'Oh, you’re my mom, but you’re just a human being.' I saw her in a different role all of a sudden.”
While her childhood wasn't always idyllic, Ellen – who is married to actress Portia de Rossi – says she's never been happier than she is now.
The 53-year-old revealed: "Well, I’m definitely happier than I’ve ever been. I assume tomorrow I’ll be happier than today, because things are great. I have a great career and I have wonderful fans who really are supportive and loyal - because I’m not hiding anything from them. So, on the spectrum of happiness, I’m pretty high up there."