We’re in the renaissance of the old-school People Magazine article where celebrities spill news and emotions. We used to live in a time where a famous type would never call up People to give them news and would still spill it all on Instagram, but Michelle Williams let us know that she’s got two new additions to her body (an unborn baby and an engagement ring) through People, and now Jessica Simpson has gotten deep and brave through People about the sexual abuse she suffered and her addiction to alcohol and pills. Jessica is now over two years sober and is telling her story in her new memoir and in a cover story for People. Since the People cover story is back, Papa Joe Simpson should follow his daughter’s lead and reboot Clay Aiken’s “Yes, I’m Gay” cover with a “Yes, I’m A Photographer And Still Not Gay, Dammit” cover while cradling his newest twink protégé.
Jessica writes about the abuse in her new memoir, Open Book, and says that it began when she was 6 years old. The excerpt that People published doesn’t blatantly say exactly who her abuser was, but Jessica says the abuse started when she shared a bed with the daughter of her parents’ friends. Jessica kept the abuse a secret for years because she felt it was her fault. When she was 12, she told her parents Tina Simpson and Papa Joe during a car ride, and Tina slapped at Papa Joe’s arm before saying, “I told you something was happening.” Papa Joe kept driving and said nothing. Jessica writes that she never went to her abuser’s house again, but like many parents, her parents put the memory of her abuse in a box, locked it, buried it, and never brought it up again, probably hoping it would just go away. Of course, that’s not how it works, and it stayed with Jessica, and as she got older and became famous, the pain from her abuse, along with the stresses of her career, made her anxieties grow and she tried to drown the demons (and yes, you can drown me in BOOOs and hisses for using “demons“) with booze and pills.
Dating John Mayer was the beginning of when she used booze to temporarily shush her anxieties. Many would turn to a mind-numbing substance to deal with the fact that they’re dating someone who Summer’s Eve goes to for inspiration when it wants to be douchier. But Jessica’s anxieties came from constantly being worried about not being smart enough for him, and she says he was so clever and many conversations with him were a friendly debate that he wanted to win. Shit, just reading about that makes me want to reach for the bottle.
She was so afraid of disappointing him that she sometimes had a friend check her texts for correct grammar and spelling. And when she felt unsure of herself she writes, “My anxiety would spike and I would pour another drink. It was the start of me relying on alcohol to mask my nerves.”
“He loved me in the way that he could and I loved that love for a very long time,” she says of Mayer, now 42. “Too long. And I went back and forth with it for a long time. But it did control me.”
She felt John was very loyal, so she was surprised when he called her “sexual napalm” during THAT interview with Playboy in 2010. Jessica was embarrassed that her grandma was going to read that, and couldn’t believe that’s what John thought she wanted to be called. He was dead to her from that moment on.
The hardest part was learning he had broken her trust. “He was the most loyal person on the planet and when I read that he wasn’t, that was it for me,” she says. “I erased his number. He made it easy for me to walk away.”
Although they are no longer in touch, she says, “I know that he’s publicly apologized and I don’t want to take that away from him.”
Jessica and rock bottom came face-to-face at a Halloween party at her home in 2017 when she realized that she couldn’t go on like that anymore, and that if alcohol was making her issues worse, it was time to break up with the bottle. And when she talked to her doctor about it, they told her that if she didn’t make changes, she’d be in danger. So she decided DrunkMessica was no more, and she got sober.
“I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills,” she writes.
The star got sober in November 2017 and hasn’t had a drink since. “Giving up the alcohol was easy,” she says. “I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb.”
“When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life,” she says. “I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.”
“Honesty is hard but it’s the most rewarding thing we have,” she says. “And getting to the other side of fear is beautiful.”
Congratulations to Jessica, and she should also congratulate herself for jumping over a major hurdle in her sobriety. I’m talking about her dealing with mommy shamers! Because if you can deal with the mommy shamer army of Instagram without hitting up the bar at TGI Fridays, you can do anything!