I am sad today. I feel as if I lost a relative, a close personal friend. Her music filled me up. Her voice gave me hope. Her sound healed my heart.
Along with sorrow, Death brings, perhaps, a little insight. This week the topic of addiction is on the minds and in the hearts of people all over the world. Whitney Houston’s public struggle with her addictions should force us—all of us—to open our hearts to the inner battle that is so fierce and real for each and every person. Not a single one of us can sit in sanctified judgment. Every one of us has a demon, an addiction that is not necessarily a chemical dependency.
Over the years, I have seen many good folks succumb first to despair, and then to chemical addiction. The sociologists and psychologists and folks think they have all the answers, and perhaps they do. They talk about treatment and intervention and go on and on. But with all their knowledge, addiction doesn’t go away.
Drugs, alcohol, sex, food, and relationship cravings can push a seemingly invincible warrior into the abyss. Only one person can win the battle. Families can’t do it. Friends can’t do it. Preachers can’t do it. Laws can’t do it.
Now, let’s get this straight. A chemical addiction is just one way that deeper issues manifest. Let’s talk about the craving for relationship. Women and men around the world are familiar with relationship addictions that are just as troubling as any chemical craving. In fact, sometimes relationships will lead to chemical addictions. The craving to be with people—and it is a real craving–even when they are bad for us is our response to terror. We are afraid to be alone with our own thoughts. We are running from our own sorrow, shame and heartache. But we are also running from our own beauty. Cravings are the attempt to still the belief that we are not good enough as we are.
Women hear over and over again the age-old myth that it’s better to be with any man or partner than to live one’s life alone. Stop the lie. This craving for relationship, no matter the cost, is filled with the same “highs” and “lows” of any other addiction. How many of us surround ourselves with people who reflect back to us our own self-dislike, self-doubt, and low self-esteem rather than surround ourselves with people who reflect our true greatness and light?
Acknowledging a relationship addiction is harder than calling out a chemical dependence. If we could understand on a deep, deep level; if we could shine a light into our hearts and marvel at what we see, there would be no addiction. The very breath and fiber of our being is filled with the holy essence of God, and once we consider that as even the possibility, then we’ve put a leg higher up on the ladder of life.
Battling addiction is about erasing our own feelings of unworthiness. Knowing this doesn’t make fighting our demons necessarily easier, but if we just accept, once again I say, the possibility of that truth—that the spirit of God is our very breath—perhaps, no guarantees, but perhaps, we can win the war.
I once had an unstable manager. She would give a person flowers and a thank you note one day, then scream at the person the next day. Although her behavior was erratic (and I imagined chemically induced), the responsibility for eliminating my addiction to unstable personalities was my problem, not hers. I know about being addicted to persons who are unpredictable and unstable. I know the battle of fighting the addiction to people who do not lift me up.
So, I am sad today. I didn’t know Whitney Houston personally, but her struggle is every person’s struggle as we continue to fight to see our own best self through our own hearts and eyes. To surround ourselves with greatness and to live in the light of our own inner greatness is the battle. We will win it.
My prayers are for Whitney Houston’s daughter, her mother, and her whole family.