As a reporter for the Chicago Sun Times, I saw celebs crash and burn more times than I like to remember. Up close and personal, sometimes.
Fame is a bitch. A mean bitch.
Someone I loved died just from wanting it too much. Others who finally got it wished they hadn't. Or didn't know what to do with it. Or just let it run all over 'em or singe all the sense off 'em.
Others handled it beautifully after a few missteps -- big ones -- and stumbled into adulthood and good relationships and kids of their own. While those who loved them white knuckled it the whole way.
So, based on my experiences, let me tell you what you can do for a kid like this: NOTHING.
Ouch. Yes. Nothing.
Mama can hold him, but she can't fix him. The girlfriend, bless her, is where I once was with the one who died, and I'm here to tell you that even loving him for dear life won't help.
Related story from the fast lane of my features reporter days:
I once sat watching a rock star flipping almost manically through the pages of a phone book in a hotel room in his home town. He'd done the triumphant return that day: a huge concert in the town where he grew up, with all the old friends and enemies looking on -- the dream we all dream in our own ways.
But it was 2 am or... maybe later. Earlier. The wee hours. And he was having some kind of panic attack. He had to find this girl he dated back in high school, or someone who would know where she was. He thought her parents were dead, and he wasn't even sure if she still lived there because surely if she did she would've been at the show...
But she wasn't. And yet he was sure that if she had been and he'd had a chance to talk to her... she would save his life. She would remember him as he once was and not care so much about the guy on the stage.
She would fix everything. He really believed that. And I didn't have the heart to say otherwise. I just sat and talked him through it. With this big lump in my throat that made it really hard to talk, believe me.
That's probably what Justin and Selena believe, too -- they've reconciled, right? I don't know. I don't keep up with celebs anymore but I think I read that somewhere. Personally, I'd like to tell her to run like hell, but if she's up for the job, he may look up one day, see her still standing amongst the rubble, and do the right thing.
And she wouldn't listen anyway. She's got the guy millions of other girls want, and right now, he's telling her she's the only thing keeping him sane or... whatever. And she's in her 20's. The years when almost all of us women sacrifice ourselves to The Big Mistake.
There's nothing you can do for her, either.
So... the train wreck will happen. It'll be some variation on the theme we all know so well -- you don't have to have spent time with celebs to know what it looks like. And the media will make sure you know every gory detail.
Some of us will laugh at him. Some of us will cry about him. "Experts" will discuss what type of intervention would be best and talk show hosts will nod earnestly and with "deep sincerity." And then introduce someone from some magazine or TV show to cook up a great new Super Bowl party recipe or show us how to lose 10 pounds in 10 minutes.
People will blame his mother. People will blame the business. People will blame him -- there'll be plenty of shaming and blaming.
But he's going where he has to go. Cross fingers he survives it. Intact, and able to use what he's learned. Maybe put it into some music that really matters someday. And touches someone who really needs to know what he knows. He could save someone else from going where he went.
I wish him... a miracle. And failing that, a moment of grace. I mean, that moment when your toes are right on the edge of that cliff, and you look down and realize it's a loooooong way to fall. And failing that, well... I guess I hope he just goes on into free fall and gets so busted up that he's grateful to get the help he needs, finally.
He will have to go wherever he's going alone, in the end -- friends and family can distract and delude you, but in the end, it's a solo flight. And the landing is going to hurt. Real bad.
Here's to ya', Bieb. Hope to see you on the other side.