After several life-changing years, Miley Cyrus is pulling back the curtain.
Today, the 28-year-old star feels, as she told Rolling Stone, "weighted and grounded." She hasn't done drugs in years and is sober again following a relapse during the coronavirus pandemic this year and has recently released her seventh studio album, Plastic Hearts. By all accounts, she's doing well and, as she confirmed to the magazine, taking her mental and physical health "a lot more seriously than I ever did before."
The same couldn't have been said just a few years ago during her Younger Now era—the last album she released in 2017 and ironically, a time when she was projecting a buttoned-up Americana image.
"A couple of years ago," she told Rolling Stone, "it looked like I was living some fairy tale. It really wasn't. At that time, my experimentation with drugs and booze and the circle of people around me was not fulfilling or sustainable or ever going to get me to my fullest potential and purpose."
"There's an idea that during the Younger Now era, I was pure," she elaborated. "The media likes to have my hair or what I look like be the point of reference for my sanity. 'Hair's long and blond, she's sane right now. She cannot be f--ked up on drugs. It's when her hair is painted or she's growing out her armpit hair [that] she's on drugs.'"
Instead, despite seemingly being settled at home with her then-fiancé Liam Hemsworth, Cyrus' life was going in the wrong direction. "I was way more off my path at that time than any of the times before where my sanity was being questioned," she said. "I don't like ever saying anything in a very solid concrete way, but right now I have been focusing on sobriety as I wanted to wake up 100 percent, 100 percent of the time. If I've ever learned to balance myself and to not take it too far, I would. But so far any time I've messed with that, it hasn't gotten me what I want...That time in my life just wasn't for me. In every way."
Publicly, the events unfolded in sudden and unexpected fashion—Miley and Liam's Malibu home burned down in November 2018, a month later they tied the knot and less than a year afterward, they announced their split.
"In a way, it did what I couldn't do for myself," Cyrus told Rolling Stone of losing their house. "It removed me from what no longer was serving its purpose. And then as you drown, you reach for that lifesaver and you want to save yourself. I think that's really what, ultimately, getting married was for me. One last attempt to save myself."
At the time of her wedding, she had freshly turned 26 years old—a pivotal moment in how she viewed the trajectory of her life.
"One of the reasons I got sober was I had just turned 26, and I said, 'I got to pull my shit together before I'm 27, because 27 is the time you cross over that threshold into living or dying a legend,'" she explained. "I didn't want to not make it through being 27. I didn't want to join that club. Probably about halfway into 26, I got sober. Then by 27, I was pretty much fully sober. Then, like a lot of people during the pandemic, I fell off. It was really a struggle. Mental health and anxiety and all that. I lost myself there, and now I'm back on five weeks."
Plus, she has the benefit of these past years of lived experience. "In early 2018, I was playing house, which felt really good at the time," she recalled. "Now I have this healthy perspective that I didn't have before. I learned a lot about what I can and cannot be for someone else and what I can and cannot accept for myself."
Rolling Stone's full January 2021 cover story with Cyrus is available here.