Since Jessica Simpson published her memoir, Open Book, earlier this year, the world has been learning a hell of a lot more about her than we ever did — and honestly, it’s a good look for her. No longer pigeonholed as a singer/Newlywed/unwitting Chicken of the Sea ambassador, Simpson has entered a new era: She’s an honest mom who has struggled — a ton. She’s opening up even further by discussing her history of sexual abuse and addiction, and that includes being up-front with her kids (Maxwell, 7, and Ace, 6) about her experiences. Yes, even with drugs.
“It’s a conversation I’ve already had with them…because I knew that kids at school would talk about it,” Simpson told Buzzfeed News’ AM to DM. “I knew that some headlines would be correct, some would not be correct, and it’s out of my hands. That’s why it’s so amazing to have my own written words because it’s my story, it’s my truth and nobody else can tell me how my heart feels.”
She added that her kids “know Mommy doesn’t drink wine because it makes her too silly. But for me, alcohol never made me mean. People didn’t know that I had a problem — they knew that towards the end it was getting to be too much, that I was not being myself and I wasn’t present in a room… So when I explained it to my kids, they really understood that Mommy is just living her best life!”
And isn’t she just? I mean, look at these cuties wandering in their winter wonderland of celebrity and snow and fabulousness.
So what was the turning point for Simpson? For fellow celeb mom Anne Hathaway, for example, the decision to quit drinking in order to be a better parent came far before any sort of rock bottom. For Simpson, however, it wasn’t as easy.
“I had started a spiral and I couldn’t catch up with myself…and that was with alcohol,” Simpson told Hoda Kotb on the Today show last month. “Every day I would say it: ‘I’ll stop soon. I’ll cut back’… I always had a glitter cup. It was always filled to the rim with alcohol. I just realized that I had to surrender. It was time. I had to give it up and I was ready. I’m not going to miss another day. I’m not going to miss another Halloween. I’m not going to miss another Christmas. I’m going to be present.”
This echoes Simpson’s sentiments in her memoir, where she writes: “I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills.” She has now been sober since 2017; she writes that she remembers telling her friends at that point, “I need to stop. Something’s got to stop. And if it’s the alcohol that’s doing this, and making things worse, then I quit.”
Her memoir also includes a window into the surprising, but sadly all too common, root of her substance abuse: Simpson writes about being sexually abused as a small child. All too common because, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), 55 to 60 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) victims — including survivors of sexual abuse — end up developing some form of chemical dependency.
“I wanted to tell my parents…I was the victim but somehow I felt in the wrong,” Simpson writes of the abuse. When she did finally open up to her parents, however, their response was heartbreaking: “Dad kept his eye on the road and said nothing. We never stayed at my parents’ friend’s house again but we also didn’t talk about what I had said,” she writes in Open Book.
Luckily, she was able to find the support as an adult to get the help she needed — thanks to friends, therapy, her husband Eric Johnson, and of course those sweet kiddos.
“When I finally said I needed help,” she writes in her memoir, “It was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life. I found direction and that was to walk straight ahead with no fear.”
With all of this year’s brutally but wonderfully honest parent-kid discussions so far (from Simpson’s about addiction and abuse to Kim Kardashian’s family chats about the prison system to the invention of a children’s book about marijuana) we have high hopes for 2020 in terms of communication, transparency, and healing — for celeb families as well as our own un-famous ones.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can get help by calling the Drug Addiction Hotline at 1-877-813-5721.