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Known to the world for her powerful voice, bubbly disposition, and sudden rise to fame amongst other teen stars in the early 2000s, Jessica Simpson appears to have it all. The 39-year-old singer and clothing designer, who has been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years, is coming clean in her new memoir, titled Open Book, about the secrets she has kept for most of her life.
In the memoir, available February 4, Simpson reveals that she was addicted to alcohol, and also abused diet pills for most of her adult life. Sober since 2017, Simpson has received extensive therapy for her substance abuse, and has spent a great deal of time healing from trauma she experienced as a young girl.
From the age of six, Simpson was sexually abused by a family friend, with whom she would share a room when vacationing at the friends’ home. The abuse began with “tickling,” and progressed to things that were “extremely uncomfortable,” as Simpson describes in her book.
Simpson told her parents about the events, and although they did not return to the friends’ house, her parents also did not speak about the abuse again. Simpson buried the pain of what she experienced, and as she grew up, she suddenly found herself in the public eye.
At age 12, Simpson auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club, though she did not earn the part. She returned home to her native Texas, where she continued singing in her church choir, eventually being discovered by a Christian music label. Although the label went bankrupt, the release of her debut album caught the attention of music executive Tommy Mottola, who signed her to Columbia Records shortly after.
Simpson quickly gained fame with songs like “I Wanna Love You Forever,” and “I Think I’m in Love with You,” and subsequently struck up a relationship with 98 Degrees singer Nick Lachey. The two married in 2002, and famously starred in the MTV show Newlyweds, which profiled the young couple and would serve as an early example of the modern reality show.
While married to Lachey, Simpson’s career thrived, as she released her best-selling album, In This Skin. Over time, the relationship suffered, and the pair filed for divorce in 2006.
Simpson later dated singer John Mayer. She reflects on the tumultuous relationship in her memoir, stating that she used alcohol to deal with her anxiety, which stemmed from feelings of insecurity. “My anxiety would spike and I would pour another drink. It was the start of me relying on alcohol to mask my nerves,” she writes in Open Book.
In 2010, Simpson’s love life took a positive turn, when she met former NFL tight end Eric Johnson. Married that same year, Johnson and Simpson now share three children.
Behind the scenes of Simpson’s new chapter, she still struggled.
In 2017, at the family’s annual Halloween party, Simpson remembers hitting her “rock bottom.”
That morning, Simpson recalled that she had already had a drink by 7:30. As the day progressed and the party preparations began, Simpson realized that she was so inebriated that she could not help her young children with their costumes.
“I was terrified of letting them see me in that shape. I am ashamed to say that I don’t know who got them into their costumes that night,” she wrote.
This event was the wake-up call that Simpson needed to face her alcohol dependence. Her friends rallied around her, where Simpson recalled saying, “I need to stop. Something’s got to stop. And if it’s alcohol that’s doing this and making things worse, then I quit.”
Simpson resolved to get sober immediately after, and has been sober ever since. With dedication, therapy, and support from her loved ones, she is realizing the “gift” that sobriety is to her family—and herself.
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