Demi Lovato was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital but is in “stable” condition, breathing and conscious now after what appears to be an overdose. This is the most critical time for Demi to get the right kind of care and support especially after having been in residential treatment and having enjoyed times of sobriety. Why critical? Because of all the demons, she is facing, the worst one is “disappointment.”
“Momma, I’m so sorry I’m not sober anymore and daddy please forgive me for the drinks spilled on the floor,” are the lyrics of her song, “Sober.” This is a time where the family is standing by her side supporting her. I can almost hear, her mom and dad saying, “No need to say sorry, we’re not disappointed, Demi. We love you.” I’m sure mom and dad are smiling while injecting her with faith and hope not fear and disappointment. Demi needs to feel loved and valued for who she is regardless of what she did.
In her song, she says, “I got no excuses for all of these goodbyes.” What she is saying is that she takes all the blame and guilt. There is a certain amount of truth in taking responsibility for one’s own actions. But what about situations that we have no control over? There has to be an excuse or a reason. Otherwise, we take the hit by a bullet of failure. We convince ourselves we could have or should have had the strength to have done it better. If anything, we could have believed better prior to the relapse. If not we always have the opportunity to believe better after the relapse. Losing faith in oneself incurs greater damage because doubt comes with regret.
Humans are complex beings. We are a soul that lives in a body. We are not our body. We are a living soul with the breath of God’s life. Yet our bodies crave, decay and betray our well being. Our bodies can be in opposition to the state of our soul at any given time. Our soul has layers and compartments that scientists, psychologists nor theologians have been able to figure out completely. Trying to compartmentalize the cause and effect of each thought and experience is mind-boggling at best. It’s like trying to split an atom; a very dangerous undertaking with disastrous results. Well, the only one that can understand and divide the complexity of the soul is God himself.
God is love and therefore, love must be the solution. We may not know the why of it all but we can rest assured that when a person experiences love in the very moment of crisis, their recovery is nothing short of miraculous. Unfortunately, humans give imperfect human love during those times. No one feels more disappointed and letdown than loved ones. The person who relapsed perceives they are to blame for the other person’s happiness, anger, confusion or sadness. That is simply not true. Non loved ones such as therapists and ministers have a tendency to say things like, “Well you’re never going to change unless you decide you want to. There is nothing I can do to help you.” None of those examples are how God loves. How can anyone know if the person in crisis lost total control of their emotions, thoughts or desires of their body? Listen to Demi’s cry in her latest song, “I try and I try and I try and I try and I try, just hold me.” It’s true that there may or may not have been things that could have been worked on to prevent it. We all have areas where we need a grace beyond our own ability. Failing to understand that in the lives of others leads us to be judgmental and that does not communicate love. That is the case when there is a deficiency in the makeup of the psyche for all the myriad of reasons and combinations of circumstances that may have begun in the womb through our teen years only to haunt us into our adult lives.
In Sober, Demi sings, “I’m sorry for the fans I lost, who watched me fall again. I wanna be a role model…” Why would she lose fans and why does she have to be a role model? These are expectations put on by people. After all, it is part of an industry that demands performance. Family and friends are no different. We all make the mistake of placing value on our loved-ones based on performance. Imagine if we perfected the art of valuing a person for who they are especially during times when they fail to perform according to our own standards and expectations. We would no longer base our decision to reject or accept the person simply based on whether we were entertained. We would learn to live out our own lives instead of trying to live vicariously through others.
For God, we do not have to perform. Like any good daddy, he loves us no matter what mistakes we may make and only sees us with the eyes of delight. What you do does not define who you are. Just because I wear a sombrero and tape a big mustache under my nose does not make me Mexican. I may mimic a great Italian accent but that does not make me Italian. So many people lose their identity trying to live up to what others expect or act in ways that we would not normally. We must stay sober-minded and be aware that we are putting up a fake persona and not be afraid to admit that this is just an act. Regardless of the reasons why I put on this act, God still loves me and I love me too. The pressure of trying to be the person that we portray creates an unbearable stress in anybody.
What is in an “I am sorry”? Regret, shame, and self-condemnation. There are two types of sorrow. One is a spiritual one where I mess up in my behavior or I fail to fulfill someone else’s expectations but I keep a sober mind and heart by declaring that I am righteous even though I did something stupid. I am loved and I am amazing. What I did is not who I am. I have always been and will always be better than that. That is a spiritual sorrow devoid of regret and self-blame. It is one that produces life. The other type of sorrow is one that comes naturally to us as humans by default but that remorseful type of sorrow produces a never-ending death. You feel guilty and dirty so now you are worthless. You say, “Now that I’ve screwed up again, what have you got to lose? So you do something else harmful which in turn makes you feel lousier and so on. You then consume drugs and alcohol to remove the guilt and remorse that you feel you are obligated to feel. Because you are high, you now feel guilty for that once you come down. That’s if you aren’t experiencing the healing of the high and the demons of the drugs at the same exact time which of course only complicates the matter. Supposedly drugs are a temporary escape from the demons but frequently they show up in the high.
Religion appears to have its open arms of love for the “repentant” but the double-edged sword is that to be repentant you have to admit that you are a sinner. They say that is the beginning of change but if you behave like a sinner or relapse well then it only stands to reason that you are a worthless sinner again. What if you were righteous to start with and righteous after you sinned? Eventually, your behavior would start reflecting how you feel about yourself. Real change comes from working on believing that you are awesome. That is not an easy feat after a relapse but that would be the accomplishment. A better therapy would shower you with goodness (undeserved acts of kindness and affection) like the prodigal son’s father who ran to his son while he was still a ways away. The father fits the shoes on his sons’ feet. They are his credentials earned from the school of hard knocks, qualifying him to speak of God’s overcoming power and never-ending love. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good tidings.
The father then crowns his prodigal with the crown of righteousness. He’s reminded that he is a prince even though he smells like a pig. He is made to feel the reality that he is the son of a king and no amount of failure can ever change the DNA that runs through his blood. The best time to wear your crown is especially when you fail or relapse because that is when you need to remind yourself of who you are. On one hand it is a royal mark of your family’s identity and on the other hand, it doubles up as a warrior’s helmet. It guards your mind against the flurry of fiery bullets of lies that come flooding from your own mind and from those that put you on the pedestal of their own personally customized expectations and moral standards. All of which vary from person to person. If you please, one person, you’ll let the other down. It’s like the saying goes, “You can never please anyone.”
Then there’s the robe, decorated in royal red lined with gold trimmings and the fabric is costly, made of smooth velvet. On the other hand, it is as durable as armor like a bullet proof vest or shield. It guards the emotions in your heart when those feelings of self-harm and the feelings of disappointment from those that can’t live their own lives so they feel that they have to live it through you. They judge you on your throne from their peasant position. The robe protects the faith and hope that guards your heart. It reminds you that no act can ever take away your dignity or your worth. Even the Bible teaches that Jesus paid for the acquittal of all mankind past, present, and future with his own life, blood, and tears. At the cross, he declared all people righteous and covenanted to never look at bad behavior ever again. I guess that’s why they call it good news. Everyone would take that deal if religion did not add so many extra and unnecessary requirements.
The story does not tell us that he even had time to shower before the father killed the fatted calf and called for a toast as the celebration began. Probably because that is what religion and conventional therapy do. It tries to modify the behavior instead of acknowledging and reinforcing the identity; we are all God’s children. Religion says, “No, you are God’s child if you say this prayer, stop this behavior or join that group.” God says, you are my child, and your only part is to believe. That is one hard job but very attainable. Believing eventually results in behaving not the other way around. Believing does not cost anything other than losing a rotten mindset and horrible feelings. My bad, you may lose some judgmental friends. But what you gain is far greater than the losses that have to go any old way.
Demi expresses her confusion in Sober. “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know why. I do it every, every, every time…” I know it is because during those difficult times her mind is being flooded with the voices telling her she is worthless. Her emotions betray her to make her feel that she has lost faith and hope. She took off her royal apparel; she removed her armor. If you are a caregiver of any capacity. Whether you are a licensed counselor, friend or family member, your only job is to clothe her with love and crown her with dignity. Anytime you express in deed and word the value of a person regardless of behavior, they perceive and feel the love. And love is the only lasting remedy for any type of addiction or mental illness.