She sings, she dances, she acts, she’s a makeup mogul — just hearing the scope of everything she does is exhausting. But Lady Gaga has also has been on a personal journey which hasn’t been made public, until now.
The A Star is Born actress shared her path from self-harm to the healing power of kindness in a recent interview with Oprah and we can’t stop reading —she says the path that got her to where she is now has given her a new mission in life. One that she considers her “responsibility to the world.”
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Sitting down with Oprah for Elle‘s December issue cover, Gaga laid bare the trauma of her past, admitting that even winning her Oscar for Shallow (for best original songwriting) was eclipsed by the specter of hurt. “When I won the Oscar for ‘Shallow,’ I looked at it, and a reporter asked me, ‘When you look at that Oscar, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a lot of pain.’ And I wasn’t lying in that moment,” Gaga shared.
“I was raped when I was 19 years old, repeatedly. I have been traumatized in a variety of ways by my career over the years from many different things, but I survived, and I’ve kept going. And when I looked at that Oscar, I saw pain. I don’t know that anyone understood it when I said it in the room, but I understood it.”
Today, she suffers from PTSD and chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia. Doctors have become a daily part of her world. She shares this because, as she tells Oprah, she knows there is someone out there stuck in their own pain who needs to hear it can get better. “This is how I survive. But you know what, Oprah? I kept going, and that kid out there or even that adult out there who’s been through so much, I want them to know that they can keep going, and they can survive, and they can win their Oscar,” she explained.
This is why it’s so important to be honest and vulnerable not only with ourselves but with others. Gaga continues, “I would also beckon to anyone to try, when they feel ready, to ask for help. And I would beckon to others that if they see someone suffering, to approach them and say, ‘Hey, I see you. I see that you’re suffering, and I’m here. Tell me your story.'”
It was because Gaga couldn’t express the way she felt for so long that she created unhealthy outlets for her pain.
“I’ve actually not opened up very much about this, but I think it’s an important thing for people to know and hear: I was a cutter for a long time, and the only way that I was able to stop cutting and self-harming myself was to realize that what I was doing was trying to show people that I was in pain instead of telling them and asking for help,” she told Oprah. “When I realized that telling someone, ‘Hey, I am having an urge to hurt myself,’ that defused it. I then had someone next to me saying, ‘You don’t have to show me. Just tell me: What are you feeling right now?’ And then I could just tell my story. I say that with a lot of humility and strength; I’m very grateful that I don’t do it anymore, and I wish to not glamorize it.”
And while Gaga says that medicine has helped her as well, she credits her fans with teaching her another invaluable lesson: kindness heals.
“I think it really started with my relationship with my fans. Looking out into the audience and seeing so many people who were like me, people who felt different, who didn’t feel seen or understood. And then also seeing a lot of kids who felt afraid to be open about who they were, it became sort of an existential experience for me, where I thought about what it means to be an individual—I wanted to fight for those individuals. I actually said this the other day on social media. I said, ‘I didn’t do this for fame, I did it for impact,'” she said, continuing, “And that’s the truth. I recognized very early on that my impact was to help liberate people through kindness. I mean, I think it’s the most powerful thing in the world, particularly in the space of mental illness.”
So, today, Gaga is making room in her packed, Grammy (and Oscar) winning, makeup-moguling, singing-dancing-doing-it-all life for more: “I believe life is asking of us to accept the challenge. Accept the challenge of kindness. It’s hard in a world the way that we are; we have a very, very grave history. We’re in trouble, and we have been before. But I think life asks us amid these challenges, this hatred, this tragedy, this famine, this war, this cruelty: Can you be kind and can you survive?”
Lady Gaga’s interview with Oprah will also be available on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast.
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