You know it’s funny what will be the catalyst for getting a blog off the ground. I’ve been wanting to write this for some time, but it wasn’t until I read the article about teen sensation Demi Lovato checking herself into a rehab clinic and dropping out of the Jonas Brothers tour that I was pushed to put virtual pen to virtual paper.
I guess on the face of it, another teen star going to rehab could just be written off as another sad story of just another broken soul losing their way. But with this star it was different. I guess first off it’s because I have a connection with her, well my almost 3 year old daughter does I should say. Yes, I know she shouldn’t be watching those older shows like “Sonny with a Chance” or the movie “Camp Rock 2″ but you come over and tell her that okay? Anyway, my daughter just loves Demi Lovato. She talks about her like she’s one of her friends. “Hey, that’s Demi Lovato.” She’d say when her image would flash across the screen. (She never called her Sonny, which was her character’s name. A fact I always found interesting.) Or “That’s a Demi Lovato song.” And start spontaneously dancing to one of her latest hits. Sometimes she would just say her name for no apparent reason, those two words having resonated with her young mind on some sort of magical toddler level that I’ll never know.
I have to admit that I can see the appeal. Ms. Lovato takes charisma to whole other level, a triple threat of acting, dancing and singing, she is actually quite good at all three. But most of all she makes my daughter smile and laugh and dance and sing. So when I read the latest news involving my daughter’s “friend” I wanted to dig a little deeper than the headline and what I found, sadly dovetailed perfectly with what I had originally intended to write about.
You see, from what the initial reports say, Demi Lovato suffered from cruel bullying as a child growing up because of weight issues and as a result has dealt with eating disorders, and cutting. My mouth dropped when I read this. I immediately thought of where my energies have been lately. In the early planning stages of trying to put together a teen summit to address bullying and suicide. Still grappling with the most recent spate of suicides. Still hungering for a solution to this deadly epidemic. And then came Demi. Smiling, pretty and bubbly on the outside, but who knew what she was going through on the inside? Who knew what she had endured. Demi’s story is not unique. Sadly, I’m sure thousands of teens across the country deal daily with eating disorders and some sort of self-injury. Teens and children are bullied everyday. Verbally, physically, on the internet. When will it stop? When we all say enough is enough?
I suppose for Demi it came with a fight with one of her dancers after a show. That was her enough moment. But think about this. If a star like Demi Lovato with all the resources and money at her disposal has to quit a huge tour to check into rehab to deal with these issues, how much of a chance does the ordinary Joey or Debbie have? When they have had enough do you think they can just quit whatever it is they’re doing and be rushed into rehab? Most likely when they reach their breaking point something far more tragic will occur. Hurting themselves or someone else with fatal results has now become all to common of an occurrence.
Another question comes to mind in thinking of Demi’s situation. Perhaps what you and I write off as another broken soul who’s lost their way, is really a bullied soul who just couldn’t take it anymore? The bullying never actually stopping even years later. Manifesting itself into all sorts of self-hating thoughts and behaviors. Growing each day like a cancer, metastacizing until a critical mass is reached. A mass that is far too big to be removed without harm to the patient . . .
I believe broken souls are meant to be healed. They don’t have to stay broken. But I think we have got to get to the core, the source of the brokeness first.
A friend made a comment to me after the recent suicide of a teenage girl, a girl my friend had known since the teenager was a small child. She wondered aloud what the effect on a young child would be to know that they are loved by something far greater than themselves. And that God has a plan and a purpose for them. A loving God who will be there no matter what. If a child was taught this at the earliest of ages would it help?
Every Sunday morning my daughter goes to her “class” at church. Complaining all the way that she doesn’t want to go, then when she comes back, it’s all she talks about. Her little drawings, and messages. Some bible verses and messages I’m sure she doesn’t get yet, but a lot I’m sure she does. She is learning that she is loved, by someone even greater and more powerful than mommy and daddy. Imagine that? Now, do I think that her sunday school class will somehow protect her from all the bullies and bad that could come her way? No. Do I think it will help her deal with all the bullies and bad that could come her way as her little life progresses? Yes. And why not. No matter what your particular faith or spiritual bent, we can all agree that all we really need is love. We need to love and be loved and to give love in truck fulls. Kids and teens are dying for love, literally.
I wish Demi Lovato the best. I hope and pray she can begin her healing away from the bright lights and look inward and finally realize that she is loved. A love that no bully or mirror could ever take away . . .
As a father, It’s times like these that I’m glad my daughter is just turning 3 and I don’t have to explain to her that her favorite “friend” is hurting and needs help. But it’s also times like these that make me realize that one day I will.
One day I will . . .