Ahead of the release of her new memoir, the singer is opening up about getting sober after trauma
Jessica Simpson is revealing her struggle with addiction in a new memoir entitled Open Book, where she literally lays herself bare for readers and fans. After suffering from ongoing sexual abuse as a child, Simpson says not processing the trauma eventually caught up with her in the form of addiction to alcohol and pills.
The singer reveals to PEOPLE that five years ago, she was approached to pen a motivational book about “living your best life.” She turned down the opportunity because she felt it was disingenuous at the time and not reflective to her life. Because she was in the midst of addiction.
“I didn’t feel comfortable talking about myself in a way that wasn’t honest,” Simpson admits. “I’m a horrible liar.”
Excerpts from her memoir describe a dark and emotional time for the famous singer and fashion designer. “I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills,” she writes. Simpson says she was self-medicating with alcohol and stimulants — a deadly combination that her doctor said was endangering her life.
She decided to get sober back in November 2017 after a Halloween party at her house helped her come to terms with the fact that she needed — and wanted — to get help. “I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb.”
Facing her trauma in therapy was the hard part, she writes. The sexual abuse began when Simpson was just six years old, perpetrated by the daughter of a family friend. “It would start with tickling my back and then go into things that were extremely uncomfortable.”
Like many child victims, Simpson was afraid to tell her parents because she believed she was somehow at fault. Eventually, six years later, she told them during a car trip. She writes that her mom, Tina, slapped her father’s arm while he was driving and yelled, “I told you something was happening.”
Her father, Joe, kept silent. “We never stayed at my parents’ friend’s house again but we also didn’t talk about what I had said.”
Fans first fell in love with Simpson when she skyrocketed the late nineties pop charts and went on to marry 98 Degrees’ frontman, Nick Lachey. We all watched her adorably navigate her new adult life on MTV’s Newlyweds and win over our hearts with her naiveté and boundless charm. No one suspected anything about the demons she was dealing with.
Her friends and family supported her all throughout her medical and therapeutic journey to sobriety. “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.”
Mom Maxwell, 7, son Ace, 6, and baby girl Birdie, 10 months, Simpson is married to her love of 10 years, Eric Johnson and runs her clothing empire. She says doing the work is difficult but necessary.
“Honesty is hard but it’s the most rewarding thing we have. And getting to the other side of fear is beautiful.”