Like so many today, I turned on the television this morning to the massive media coverage of Whitney Houston’s untimely death. After watching the Today Show and surfing the net for a bit, I decided to turn off the TV and to ignore the snarky comments about her drug addiction that some were making on Facebook. Instead, I decided to play her music for a while and to reflect on what I was thinking and feeling.
I remembered the fun I had seeing Whitney in concert when I was 16 at the old Charlotte Coliseum back in 1987. It was the first time my parents let me drive to a concert, and I was excited to drive my friends for our big night out to see Whitney sing her big hits “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “The Greatest Love of All.”
I sat and thought about how dramatically her life changed during the years when so many tuned into “Being Bobby Brown”, and how many people were entertained by the drama of her “crazy” life. Watching other people’s pain and chaos on reality television is just something I have never really understood. Addiction is a disease, and while the media will always focus on famous celebrities like Whitney and Amy Winehouse, it is easy for us to forget that so many people struggle with the same issues that they did.
Then, I listened to The Greatest Love of All, and I felt sad that Whitney sounded like she had it all figured out back in 1987, but then struggled with the demons of addiction and a difficult marriage where she clearly never fully recovered. I sat and wondered where the lesson was in this.
Whitney sings that: “The greatest love of all is easy to achieve…Learning to love yourself…It is the greatest love of all.”
It occurred to me that learning to love yourself is not exactly as easy to achieve as it should be. And it is most definitely not easy to maintain in the face of what life throws at us. We all have our own demons and struggles, whether due to addiction, loss, illness, failure…Even if we have it figured out early like Whitney did, many of us struggle to maintain love for ourselves through all of the mistakes we make along they way.
I think that the lesson here is to remember that learning to love yourself truly is the greatest – and probably hardest – love of all. And that we mostly battle ourselves when it comes to achieving it. We carry so many “stories” of not being good enough – and we fight the voice in our heads that someone I know calls “the itty-bitty-shitty committee”. You laughed because maybe you have one too??
I believe that learning to love yourself is how you strengthen yourself to be a better spouse and parent, and employer or employee. Loving yourself is how you serve the community and world around you. I believe that loving yourself will lead to more love, success and happiness in all aspects of your life. Keep at it. It’s worth it.