#56 From Helen to Demi

Demi,

I don’t remember a time when I did not know your name, your music. I do, however, remember the first time I heard La La Land, before I knew  your story. It made me smile so much to think of a celebrity deliberately doing the exact opposite of what society tells people to do.

The strange thing is, even though I love music – I always have done, it’s just recently that it became a lifesaver – I don’t think I heard any of your other songs until I heard Skyscraper, which I heard for the first time in April 2012. The first time I heard Skyscraper, I didn’t know what had led you to sing it, or why I could hear such raw emotion in your voice. What I did know was that it hit me somewhere deep inside. You see, the lyrics made me think of my parents, and how I was being forced into taking school subjects I didn’t really want to do. At the time, I was so close to doing what I wanted to do, regardless of my parents, and your song almost gave me the strength to do that. I said almost. I didn’t do that in the end. Big mistake.

I took Maths, rather than Spanish, because all I wanted was to make my parents proud of me. I should explain that I have what some people would call a natural ability for languages, and I would love to work with foreign languages in the future, but I don’t know what exactly I want to do, so my parents said that I’d be better off taking French and Maths, instead of French and Spanish, so I didn’t limit my options while still being undecided on my future career path. Unfortunately, I don’t have the natural ability in Maths that I do with languages.

Last academic year, I began to really struggle in school for the first time. Up until this point, I had always been able to work through school work if I didn’t understand it. I can’t do that anymore. I began spending all my time on Maths, because I had to do so in order to finish all my Maths work as it took me a long time to understand it. Needless to say I ended up neglecting my French and Geography work, and became very behind in Geography. Not so much in French, thankfully. I found that I didn’t have to do any more than the bare minimum in French in order to do OK.

Before last September, I loved school. I loved learning things. It got me away from what I can only describe as a dysfunctional family environment. That love was taken away from me when I began to struggle with school. I sank into a depression (not that my parents believe that), and began to cut myself in late October. Thankfully, I was brave enough to ask for help midway through December, so it didn’t become as much of an addiction as it could have, which I believe has made recovery a lot easier than it would have been.

And that’s where you came in. You’ve been there for me throughout my entire recovery. I haven’t cut myself since April, and you are one of 3 people that have helped me manage that. I bet you want to know who the other two people are, don’t you? They are Taylor Swift and Idina Menzel. I don’t have a Twitter account, but if I did, my bio would read “Taylor Swift gave me courage. Demi Lovato gave me faith. Idina Menzel gave me hope.”

I’d better explain that I asked for help in the first place because Taylor Swift wrote the song Tied Together With a Smile the day she found out that one of her friends was bulimic. That song described how I react to life perfectly – hiding all of my problems behind a huge smile – and it gave me the courage to do tell my form tutor what I was doing to myself. I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t taken that first step.

Today, or any day when I am close to picking up a blade, I look to you and say to myself, “if Demi Lovato recovered from this, you can damn well do the same”. I watch Stay Strong, or play your music, and it never fails to make me feel better. (I have to confess here that I only own your most recent album, “Demi”, because I’m just a student, and I don’t have the funds to buy “Don’t Forget”, “Here We Go Again” and “Unbroken”. However, I am looking into finding a part time job, and I intend upon buying the albums out of my wages.) I wouldn’t have had the faith in myself to have stayed clean for this long if I had I not had you as my inspiration to recover.

Regardless of the fact that I’m no longer cutting myself, I don’t feel any happier than I did the day I sat in a stairwell with my form tutor and confessed everything. I don’t really feel as if I have a purpose in life, and I did feel quite hopeless. However, about a month ago I developed an obsession with Wicked. Like with your music, I have always known about Wicked (how can you not in this day and age?), but I didn’t know too much about the story until I borrowed the book from the school library and downloaded the soundtrack (the book is totally worth a read, if you haven’t yet). Idina Menzel is the perfect person to play Elphie, in my opinion. Some people say that there are people who have better control over their voices during numbers such as Defying Gravity, and I agree with that to an extent. However, I see the small losses in control as part of a performance. If she had perfect control over her voice, it would mean that she was trying too hard to make her voice perfect, and not paying attention to the emotion that’s meant to come through in her performances. But I digress. What I’m trying to get at is, Idina’s portrayal of Elphie gave me hope that there is life after what I’m going through, that I won’t always feel this way, and I will be happy.

By the way, if you type “Elphaba” into Google Images, there is a picture of Idina in the same pose as you on the cover of your album “Demi”. I’m not quite sure how much I should read into that, does it mean anything? Or was it merely a coincidence?

So, I’m writing this letter right now because I want to tell you that you have changed my life, and you have without a doubt made me a better person. I hope that all you see all of these messages, and that they make you feel proud of your past, no matter how many horrific things you’ve been through.

Your past has made you a stronger person, a WARRIOR, and it is one of the many reasons why all of your Lovatics look up to you so much. I think it is amazing that you’ve used your past to help other people who are going through similar things, and that is a quality that I respect so much. It’s definitely helped me. Don’t stop doing that.

I think you have taught a lot of people a lot of important lessons. I know that you taught me that I don’t need to be perfect, and that I don’t need my parents approval to know that I am doing something good.

I’m proud of this letter. My English teacher from last year would tell me that it was too personal for someone I’ve never met, and that it was inappropriate in places, but I feel like I know you from your music, and sometimes your music speaks to me as if you know me as well. And do you know what? This letter is completely honest, something I could never be with my parents. Which is unfortunate, as they have never seen how important music is to me, and I don’t think they ever will, as I can’t tell them all of this.

Demi, my warrior, I hope you have an amazing 21st birthday, and I hope that you continue to be a strong, happy person. Stay strong, my darling, and remember that Lovatics will be here for you forever.

All my love, Helen xoxo

 
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