Dianna De La Garza, mother of superstar Demi Lovato, is releasing a new memoir titled Falling With Wings: A Mother's Story. In the memoir, De La Garza reveals the struggles she had raising her daughters while suffering from mental illness and an abusive relationship.
“I wanted to share this story because I thought there might be people out there who might be going through some of the same things that my family was going through," De La Garza told PEOPLE.
Demi Lovato has led the way in creating a mainstream conversation about mental health with her own openness. The former Disney star has shared the scars she's healed from over the years due to her mental illness and past drug addictions. Now, it's her mother's turn. Through her heartbreaking memoir, Dianna is recounting tragic events in her life that she has had to endure and overcome.
In 1984, while becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and working towards becoming a country singer, Dianna met and fell in love with Patrick Lovato. The two were quickly married and Lovato became her manager. Instead of a beautiful happily, ever after, Dianna soon realized that her new husband was battling demons of his own. The two found themselves in a violent and drug-fueled relationship. Lovato's mom says she suspects that her husband went undiagnosed with bipolar disorder and to hide the symptoms he turned to drugs, alcohol, and violence.
“I thought I could change him, and I think victims of domestic abuse often feel the same way. You’re not always going to be able to change someone, no matter how much you want to. There may come a point where your love for that person may not be enough to keep you safe," says Dianna.
Dianna divorced Patrick in 1994 saying, "I knew I had to get out." She details the aftershocks of the divorce which included the collapse of her Demi's mental health and the shattered remnants of trauma Patrick left in his wake.
“It broke my heart to realize that my girls had seen and heard so many things that must have terrified them. Starting over as a single mom was hard. But I finally felt free," she says.
Despite her volatile relationship with Patrick, Dianna encouraged her daughters to stay connected with their father. “I always encouraged my girls to have a relationship with him… as long as he was responsible and wasn’t putting them in any danger. I wanted them to love him. They talked to him on the phone and tried to have a relationship with him, until he passed away," she says.
In addition to the complexity of her and her family's relationship with Patrick, Dianna retraces the moments of realizing that her daughter Demi was suffering from eating disorders and mental illness.
“One day Dallas came running into the dining room looking alarmed. ‘Demi is visiting some really weird websites about anorexia and bulimia'; I sighed. ‘She probably got on them by mistake.’ I’m horrified when I look back. Sometimes we so desperately want to believe the best about our children that we ignore the obvious," she says in her memoir.
She adds, "[Years later] I found Demi’s diary...one sentence in particular crushed my heart: ‘Nobody loves a fat rock star. Guess I’ll have to starve myself so people will like me.”
At the time, Dianna was struggling with her own trauma that her abusive relationship left behind which included depression and anxiety. However, it was her daughter's burgeoning stardom that kept her from fully succumbing to the scars left on her mind.
“My girls wanted to be stars, [and] the formula in my head looked something like this: stardom=money & recognition=less anxiety & more satisfaction=less depression & more happiness=fairy-tale life," she says.
Dianna's courage to tell her story, including her triumphs and failures, will inspire many mothers who have been through similar adversities. The 25-year-old star says of her mother, “I’m so proud of my mom for achieving something she’s always wanted to do — tell her story. She’s resilient, inspiring and strong. Because of her journey and strength to overcome the obstacles that she’s faced in her life, she is my hero.”
Falling With Wings: A Mother's Story is available for preorder here.