For most of her young life, Selena Gomez’s name has been synonymous with another: Justin Bieber. Their young love captivated a generation, and the highs and lows of their rollercoaster romance together was followed every step of the way through Instagram and social media. But the young pop star sorrowfully admits that the relationship has “haunted” her ever since it ended in her new documentary.
In Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, which released on AppleTV+ on November 4, the former Disney darling gives a raw, unparalleled look into her life over the last six years, covering everything from her doomed Revival Tour, her time in four mental health treatment centers, and her continued struggle, even today, to manage the pains of her lupus and bipolar diagnosis. But while she’s very candid about her journey to be well again, the topic of Justin is clearly one she wishes to put to bed once and for all.
Justin is mentioned only twice in the whole film. The first is within the first 15 minutes of the documentary. After going through a final run-through of her Revival show, Selena is seen backstage, crying uncontrollably, clearly unhappy with how the show has turned out. “It just sucks,” she tells her team. “All of it. It looks so bad. I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing.”
As she cries harder, she explains that she sees this as her shot to be seen as a serious, more adult artist, and the pressure is on. She mentions John Janik, Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, calling her earlier in the day to talk about “the whole song with Justin,” though it’s unclear what she’s referring to. She is, however, very direct on how she feels about the world being unable to disassociate her from her ex.
“When am I going to be just good enough by myself?,” she asks aloud. “ When am I going to be good just myself, not needing anyone to be associated with?” She adds later, “I want nothing more than to not be my past and it comes back.”
The answer to her question, to her dismay, is not any time soon. Weeks before the documentary debuted on AppleTV+, the saga of Jelena entered a new chapter. Justin’s wife, Hailey Bieber, spoke about Selena’s relationship with Justin on the Call Her Daddy podcast in September 2022. In her no holds-barred interview, Hailey insisted that there was never any crossover between their love lives, and revealed that she and Selena are “drama free”. However, reviving the topic only drudged up strong feelings from both her fan base and Selena’s. Almost immediately, Selena was forced to take to TikTok to defuse the situation by appealing to her fans for kindness. “I was like, I’m just going to say, ‘Everybody be kind to each other. Everybody just focus on what’s going on in the real world’” she told Rolling Stone about the post.
This then led to the infamous reunion of the women weeks later at the Academy Museum‘s Gala in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 15. Looking cozy and even sharing a private laugh, the women both loved by Justin went viral for the moment, and both hoped that it would put the days of them being pitted against each other to bed.
But Selena has been striving at this for years: finding the right way to distance herself from her past relationship. In the documentary, Selena invites the cameras to the night she accepted her McLean Award, an honor given to her after she was admitted to the McLean Hospital in Boston after her psychotic episode. As she walks the room at the ceremony, countless people thank her for her bravery for talking about her bipolar diagnosis and mental health struggle. The moment strikes a chord in her. “I’m think I’m ready to say I’m sad,” she narrates in voice over.
From there, she explains the meaning behind one of her most successful songs to date, “Lose You to Love Me.” She reveals she wrote the song in 45 minutes and while it famously deals with her relationship with Justin, its meaning goes even deeper than that.
“It’s about more than just a lost love,” she narrates. “It’s me learning to choose myself, to choose life…The song is about knowing you completely lost every part of who you are. Just to rediscover yourself again.” And Justin? “Everything was so public,” she added. “I felt haunted by a past relationship that no one wanted to let go of. But then I just moved past it, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”
By that, she means that with her album Rare, she was finally ready to put out everything she felt about all the moments of her life, including Justin – and it made her all the stronger for it. “I feel like I had to go through the worst possible heartbreak ever and then just forgetting everything at the drop of a hand. I just think that needed to happen. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Time will tell if she can truly stand by that statement, but in the meantime, “Lose You To Love Me” went on to be her biggest song of all-time, reaching the #1 spot on the Billboard Charts in the USA and two other countries, and the documentary has already been celebrated by critics and fans alike for the honest look inside her very personal problems.