Recently I watched the Whitney Houston documentary ‘Can I be me?’, which was written and directed by Nick Broomfield telling the story of Whitney’s extraordinary life and tragic death.
During the programme some of her long term friends and family recalled that she used to regularly say ‘Can I be me’? I immediately recognised that wish within my own addiction clients, sometimes so deep that they don’t even know that it’s within them; to be themselves, to recognise themselves, to be their true and full selves without anxiety, confusion or co-dependancy. The dream to be AUTHENTIC and understand what it’s like to be ourselves is within us all.
Whitney was kept away from recording her favourite types of music; Rhythm and Blues and Gospel, because it was ‘deemed to be too black’ for the general American audiences. She toured and toured and toured and due to exhaustion and her addiction to Cocaine and other drugs her voice suffered, her physical health suffered and her emotional health was on it’s knees.
‘Can I be me’ she would say but sadly people didn’t want her to be herself. She was loved and lorded by millions of fans around the world but she was a meal ticket for so many around her. She paid a lot of people’s wages and she was praised and cajoled and manipulated to keep going by people all around her. Her body guard from that time said ‘ When you are making money for people they don’t want you to stop and go to rehab’.
In a filmed interview she said ‘Fame doesn’t make you happy, you have to find the happiness within yourself’. But she never really did. She spent her whole life doubting herself and never found the acceptance she needed to truly be herself and find freedom. So she became everything everyone else wanted her to be, her mother, father, husband, management…the list goes on.
Smoking weed from being a teenager upscaled to the monster that is Cocaine and, as with all users of Cocaine, she found the highs became short-lived followed by intense depression, edginess and a craving for more. Typically she didn’t eat or sleep properly. She lost a great deal of weight and became gaunt and unreliable and suffered severely from anxiety.
When asked, in an interview towards the end of her life, to name the biggest devil from: Cocaine, pills and Marijuana she responded ‘That would be me’. And later in the same interview: ‘I knew the light was there. I was just trying to get back to it.’
It is a great sadness that in the later years of her life Whitney Houston did not have the support she needed to break the link to her addictions. She didn’t have the opportunity to work through her emotional issues, her childhood long held issues that tainted her adult life and career. Whitney never found the people that could truly help her and empower her to become herself, in all of her beauty and glory. She was never the person she wanted to be because she knew that would not be accepted by those that were around her. She never really got to be herself. To her question ‘Can I be me’? The answer was ‘NO’.
So many people that are sensitive to this world and the Creatives amongst us turn to an addiction to help mask the separation they feel from themselves and their own spirits. Ironically they are actually seeking that which they are ultimately destroying.