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The singer shared an exclusive look at her new single, “I Love Me,” on Thursday’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show and it’s an anthem about loving yourself no matter what. In an emotional interview along with the video sneak peek, Lovato said that wasn’t how she was feeling when she broke six years of sobriety in 2018 — amid a recurrence with her eating disorder as well as trouble with her team of handlers — nor was it how she felt three months later when she OD’d.
“I have to preface it with the fact that I got sober at 19,” Lovato, now 27, said of her relapse. “So I got sober at an age where I wasn't even legally allowed to drink. I got the help that I needed at the time and I took on the approach of a one size fits all solution, which is sobriety. Just sobriety. So my whole team,” whom she no longer works with, “took that approach and we did it. And we ran with it, and it worked for a long time.”
Until it didn’t.
”I realized that over time as the things with [my] eating disorder,” which she’s had since age 9, “were getting bad ... it progressively got worse and worse with people [on my team] checking what my orders at Starbucks were on my bank statements,” Lovato said, referring to them keeping tabs on what she was eating. “Just little things like that led me to being really, really unhappy. My bulimia got really bad [again] and I asked for help and I didn't receive the help that I needed. So I was stuck in this unhappy position. Here I am sober and I'm thinking to myself: I'm six years sober, but I'm miserable. I'm even more miserable than I was when I was drinking. Why am I sober?”
Lovato said she reached out to people on her team and the response was that she was “‘being very selfish.’” They said she was told that her breaking sobriety “‘would ruin things for not just you but for us as well.’" She said that, as someone whose “core issues are abandonment,” stemming from her troubled birth father, that stung and she spiraled.
“When [my team] left, they totally played on that fear. I felt completely abandoned, so I drank,” she said. “That night I went to a party and there was other stuff there — and it was only three months before I ended up in the hospital with an OD.”
And while the abandonment of her handlers led to her drinking and using drugs again, Lovato knows that she is the one to blame for making that choice.
“Ultimately, I made the decisions that got me to where I am today,” she said. “It was my actions that put me in the position that I'm in. And I think it's important that I sit here on this stage and tell you at home or you in the audience or you right here, that if you do go through this, you yourself can get through it. You can get to the other side. And it may be bumpy, but you are a 10 out of 10. Don't forget it. And as long as you take the responsibility, you can move past it and learn to love yourself the way you deserve to be loved.”
Lovato, now managed by Scooter Braun, spoke more about her eating disorder, revealing that when she used to visit talk shows, like DeGeneres’s, her former team would remove any food with sugar, including fruit, from her dressing room so she wouldn’t eat too much of it.
“I didn't know that until today,” she said. “I lived a life for the past six years that I felt wasn't my own because I struggled really hard with an eating disorder, yes, and that was my primary problem and then it turned into other things,. My life, I just felt it was so — and I hate to use this word — but I felt it was controlled by so many people around me. If I was in a hotel room at night, they would take the phone out of my room so I couldn’t call room service — or if there was fruit in my room they would take it out because that’s extra sugar. We’re not talking about brownies ... it was fruit.”
She said for years she didn’t even have a birthday cake — instead, she had a watermelon cake, which was the fruit with fat-free whipped cream on top. So this year, on her birthday, she enjoyed real cake with her new team — and Ariana Grande, a friend as well as another of Braun’s clients.
“I just remember crying because I was finally eating cake with a manager that didn't need anything from me and that loved me for who I am and supported my journey,” she said, adding of her former team, “I think at some point it becomes dangerous to try to control someone's food when they're in recovery from an eating disorder."
Lovato said she’s so much happier now — and keeps reminding herself that she doesn’t need alcohol, drugs, food or a significant other to make her feel good.
"We are good by ourselves, we don't need a partner, we don't need substances,” she said — again reiterating that’s the message of her new single, which is out Friday. “We’re good.”
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