I've been sort of consumed in my thoughts by Whitney Houston. Yes, her most popular times were during my late teens and early twenties and I loved that music and the times they underscore to my life. I mostly have been thinking about the struggle she had. The world fell in love with this beautiful beautiful well spun image and towering vocals but behind the face paint and sparkle was a woman who couldn't live up to the hype that surrounded her.
In my own smaller version, I sort of tried to create a faux self that I sold to everyone including my family as being the real me. The first time I felt the relief of even for a short time admitting I didn't know what I was doing and didn't know how to make it look like I did any longer was when I was 27 and had drank a lethal amount of alcohol and took the only pills in my apartment, which were cold tablets I had to pop out of the plastic safety bubbles and his ginseng capsules. The combo is funny in hindsight, but what I was trying to say wasn't that I wanted to die necessarily but I just wanted help.
In the emergency room at Parkland, in a cotton gown, I drank the charcoal and enjoyed the warm air circulating like a tiny fan of warm was pointed just at me. The blue cotton gown was the softest I had ever felt against my skin. Mostly, and I know this now was it was my first taste of surrender. There is such a peace in the process of surrender that it is indescribable. It didn't last long, as the alcohol was neutralized by the gunky charcoal I had swallowed, I began taking all my stress and frustration back and immediately began to swallow to fill my soul back up with fear.
When I saw the headline that Whitney Houston Is Dead at 48, I was stunned ,I felt like I lost a friend or family member. I'd seen her struggle with drugs and obsessive love and while I may have commented on it without much compassion I never wrote her off.
When she released her "come back" album in 2009 I had so much hope that "Whitney Houston" was back. She didn't look like 20 year old Whitney but she was sophisticated and beautiful. I saw her make the promotion appearances to push the record sales up and her voice was like tumbling rocks and glass. She couldn't cancel because her her past behaviors without starting "OLD WHITNEY Canceling shows again" and she HAD to make the money back to the record company.
I sang for years and on a very very small scale I know when u wait for your name to be called for you turn to take the stage and you have an issue that makes you sound not the best it's soul killing. To know you are going to sound like a bad bad version of yourself or worse like someone else who has no voice. I never had million dollar deals breathing down my neck. I didn't have the specter of the glaring images of my 20 year self or memories of myself at the peak of my vocal ability to haunt me. She must of felt like the worst Whitney Houston imitator on the planet. IMPOSTER!!!!!!! I always felt like a bad Clinton Gandy imitator and always was waiting to be found out and exposed as an fake/imposter.
The fact that she died , alone. In a rented tub. sickens me a bit. She died on prescription drugs that I abused the hell out of but evidently never taking them in the exact combo that she did, connects me to her. It touches the part of me the still hurts from my separation from the the civilians of earth.
Whether it was bad taste or not, I saw the photo of her lying in state in Newark. I was really comforted by the fact she looked beautiful. She finally had the look of real peace about her. Her struggle with am a the daughter of Sissy, am I the daughter of New Hop Baptist Church, am i a mother her has repeated make disastrous decisions that my only child has witness all her life? Her struggle with self and ego are just like mine. The image verses the quiet truths.
In my life, in/around recovery for 20 years I have seen many many people over shoot the mark and die, i have seen the ones purposely do it and accidentally do it. It is my solemn and firmest belief that the universe is most kind and loving and when someone has tried and tried but cannot find their way out of the dark and into the light, that sometimes, the light reaches out for them. I think she struggled as much as she could and a universal kindness was bestowed to stop her pain. Sometimes we don't get the lesson in human form.
She survived, crack , coke and Bobbie Brown, only to be done in by some meds she took because she couldn't face going to Clive Davis' party and singing without help. Clive Davis' party for his Grammy people was going on 4 floors beneath the body of Whitney Houston, zipped up and on a gurney until 9:30 pm about the time she would have taken the stage. All the pressure she put on herself to be "good" for the music people and they didn't even stop the party in the same hotel she died in.
Today, I choose the people in my life, well, like my life depended on it. On some days my friends do save me, from my best thinking. The best I can be has to be enough and this little gem "All I can do is All I can do" continually saves my ass and my sanity.
I haven't turned to chemicals to ease my mind and calm my pains in a while, and as I watched the glorious exit and flame out of the creature named Whitney, I'm thankful that I lived to know better. I lived to learn how to learn and I wasn't extended an exit by the universe because evidently I am teachable even through the ball busting pain I created by living a life first as a drunk and then an all around drug addict and substance abuser. The miracle for me is not only that I am sill here, it is the fact I am GRATEFUL to be here.