We were away this weekend and while there I heard the news that Whitney Houston had died.
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill.
Immediately my thoughts went to her daughter and her family, I began praying that God would help them through this difficult period.
Whitney Houston hasn’t entered my thoughts in years. I used to love her music and I still think she’s one of the most talented voices I’ve ever heard but I haven’t heard anything from her in years. I write this only to provide some background for my perspective.
Once I was able to log onto Facebook from our hotel room, I was honestly shocked to see some status updates within my stream. I’m sure you’ve seen the same within yours but seriously who the heck follows “Sober Julie” and then writes such updates as:
“RIP Whitney – too bad you chose drugs over your kid”
That’s simply one I can scroll to today, a full 24 hours since she died and there’s still trash scrolling down the page.
Why, why do we feel the need to point a finger on such a public forum, don’t people realize what they type leaves a lasting impression?
Possibly, perhaps they don’t care. Could it really be this black and white to these people?
Yup it can.
If we put aside the fact the cause of death hasn’t been determined, let alone announced and assume it’s an addiction related death does it then qualify such judgmental status updates as appropriate?
All too often we hear this, normally it’s not about a celebrity it’s a normal Joe from the world around us who succumbs to alcoholism or drugs. People are left angry and unable to understand why someone would allow themselves to fall this far under the spell of these addictions.
How many times have I heard people ask “Why can’t they just stop?”
Too many times.
Getting clean is not easy and it’s difficult to explain in terms people can grasp why we addicts don’t simply stop using.
Suffice it to say people lost in active addiction can’t see that it’s possible to stop. Their brains are compromised by the drugs and alcohol and the driving force in their lives has become the thing which is killing them.
There is hope, there are many programs and medical professionals who can help but truly the addict has to want it.
This person whose perspective, behavior and decisions are altered has to find a way through the haze to WANT to LIVE.
It doesn’t end there, they have to suffer, to truly feel pain and struggle to get through becoming sober.
Then once they’re sober they have to continuously reject their deepest desire, one that’s on a base level….a constant pull to their past Idol which is what drugs and booze become to many of us.
It was once our life force and it never stops, it merely becomes quieter as we recover. Addicts are constantly in a battle to save their own lives, we cannot become complacent and we know this.
When we have been sober for a while many of us are blessed to realize there is a spiritual solution, we find God and begin to understand how wonderful this life is even with the struggles. We see that we can overcome our disease, one day at a time.
Image credit: Whitney Houston: Ida Mae Astute
“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.
Relapse rates for addictive diseases do not differ significantly from rates for other chronic diseases. Relapse rates for addictive diseases range from 50 percent for resumption of heavy use to 90 percent for a brief lapse depending on which reports you’re reading.
Is the person “weak” or is the disease strong?
To those who choose to stand in judgement I wish I could say you anger me, the fact is that it makes me sad that people don’t understand the disease of addiction.
Personally I’ll be morning the death of a woman who is a mother, friend and talented artist. Hopefully through all of the media coverage people will become more aware of addictions and educate themselves.
To Judgy McJudgerson: I’ll be praying for you…..and will do my best to stop myself from ranting about your small mindedness.
If you have a friend or family member you’re concerned about there are thousands of resources listed on the internet, go Google addiction services in your area, call a 12 Step phone number listed in your newspaper or see your GP.
Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy says
I just posted this morning to the judgey ones that I hope that they really are so removed from addictive behavoirs that they can’t possibly understanf. That they aren’t smokers or shoppaholics or overeaters. I personally have never struggled with chemicaladdictions but I have struggled my entire life with overeating. And I hope noone sums up my entire value as a person in that struggle
The cycle we get caught up in is fatal and that’s truly a shame…
Help also isn’t always so easy to get. My stepfather is currently homeless and has hit rock bottom with a drug addiction. He went to the local drug centre where people go to get help and he asked for help. It took many years and us having no choice but to give up and I had to decide to keep him away from my children. Want to know what happened when he walked in to the centre. he was told it was a 6 month wait to get into a treatment program. He told them he would be dead by then and they said sorry that is how long the wait is. He did speak to one of the groups that go around to give homeless people sandwiches and stuff and told one of the volunteers what happened. She said she can get him in to treatment in 2 weeks if he is serious. I hope he is and I hope she can. So my message, getting treatment isn’t always as cut and dry as people think it is.
No it’s not easy, we have to work for it. There are detox facilities, many treatment centers with wait-lists and some without. We have to WANT to be sober enough to seek it out and not stop the first time we’re told the INN is full.
There are also 12 Step programs multiple times a day in every city, town and village, ER’s and GPs.
I know what you mean about it being frustrating but it’s not impossible.
No not impossible but sure as heck discouraging. I believe if an addict cries out for help they should receive it without having to jump through hoops or “prove” themselves. We would probably see many more former addicts if help was easier to receive.
AMEN that’s pure truth right there Nolie
Ninja Mommers says
Unfortunately it seems that many people are only capable of judgement and speculation. Those that are like that are likely judging themselves and their internal dialoge is essentially poured out using other people as the shadow they hide behind. It’s sad really that instead of celebrating people’s lives some choose to judge them even after death. It’s shameful on their part. And in my eyes, we have no right to judge anyone, for internal struggles are rarely let out our brought to light. We have no idea how Whitney Houston struggled or what her life was truly like. What we should be doing is mourning for her loss and praying for her family. (whitney’s daughter was rushed to the hospital due up stress related causes). Great post Julie! We never know what those around us are truly going through and the speculation does more harm than good for anyone.
Coffee Lovin' Mom says
Great post! So many people can’t see it from the point of view of the addicted person simply because they aren’t in their shoes. Having worked in a chemical treatment center, I know how hard it is for someone to get in off the streets because of the politics with courtroom judges. I advocated for many of them when they were being turned down because someone else was court ordered there on the day they were supposed to check in. I feel for the family, there’s so much more going on there than your average Joe who suffers. I admit I was a judgy mc judgerson earlier in the week when I saw a headline saying that she was claiming the drug dealers stole her fortune…I soon realized that she just couldn’t see through her haze.
If only we had enough space for all addicts in treatment….if only
Kelly @ City Mom says
Great perspective Julie! Thankfully my timeline didn’t have too many haters but all that came to mind for me was the sadness that if her death was a result of drug abuse that it was a sad reality that she had succumb to her illness. It seemed a wasted life to me as she seemed so beautiful on the inside & out and a disease took that away from her!
Most of the time ignorance comes from fear and lack of knowledge. For this who judged I just feel sorry for them for they are living a life of hiding and not facing their fears!
You’re so right, our lack of knowledge frightens us and hopefully the media will help to enlighten instead of just glorify our shock at such a loss
AnnMarie Brown says
I am saddened for her family and daughter now motherless at the age of 18. Just doesn’t seem right. I have no idea how addictions can grab a whole of a person and how it effects them personally. Unfortunately I have lived on the other side of it… being the sister of an addict and then growing up only to adopt a precious angel whose life was completely altered by her mothers addiction to alcohol.
My heart breaks every time I hear some one losing their life to addiction or to what many believe was addictions… I get angry… not at the person more at the addiction what ever it might be. I am educated enough to know that addictions are not something that you can break very easily as the loved ones I have watched go through it.
Keep doing what you are doing my dear… make a difference one person at a time.
Thank you for sharing that, anger is understandable in cases such as this….
for your first point Julie – yes, we all have things to look at ourselves before we start pointing fingers at others… it’s so sad some can’t see that!
Hopefully they’ll get there….
Multi-Testing Mommy says
I LOVED Whitney Houston growing up – I still do love her music and know all of the words ;) I am sad to hear of her death and I’m sorry that you were brought into it like that.
I know all the words from the 80’s and 90’s, ask me to sing something later than that and I’m lost
I didn’t see too much bashing, a lot of shocked sad people though. as always though, it is wonderful to hear your perspective. thanks for sharing
It’s truly shocking Jennifer…such a loss
Thanks for this reminder Julie.
Thank you for reading Misty
Thanks for this Julie. It’s a tough topic for sober people and non-sober people alike. It’s easy to pass judgement until you’ve been there. And yet we’re humans. We trash talk the things we don’t understand. Mainly, I’m angry at our society and the way handle this disease. We think that not talking about is the answer and clearly that isn’t working. Just ask Whitney’s family or Amy Winehouse’s family. I pray we can start being honest about this deadly disease. Finally. Anyway, great post.
Thanks so much Sean….the attitude we have hurts many families….
Tasha W says
I was pretty lucky not to see any nasty posts from my FB Friends in regards to Whitney’s death. However when I went through the hastag #whitney on Twitter after the news broke, that was a whole other story. Disgusting actually. A lot of people really are truly heartless out there about people, celebs or not and there personal issues and addictions, I was honestly sickened by quite a few tweets that people were writing and the people retweeting those nasty tweets bothered the hell out of me even more.
I know with those types of people, you can’t say anything to them. They either thought it was funny, they didn’t really think about the words they were posting and how it would affect others, or they simply just didn’t care. The amount of retweeting the absurd comments pissed me right off. I have a couple people in my life right now battling an addiction, but both don’t want help as of yet. I can only step away after trying for almost ten years with both of them and hope and pray they make the right choice on their own.
I finally learned after trying to play “god” for ten years, that it’s just not possible. I wore myself out emotionally and drained myself mentally fighting for two people lives, when they could care less about it themselves. I finally learned how to walk away. You really can’t help someone that clearly doesn’t want it or has put little effort in. You said it best when you said “Personally I’ll be morning the death of a woman who is a mother, friend and talented artist.”
You are an amazing woman Julie and I couldn’t agree with you more. I just wish more people would stop and think like us before they judge. My thoughts are with Whitney’s family and her daughter at this time. Praying she can stay strong and pull through.