Sunday, August 28, 2011
On The Death of Amy Winehouse
she had a choice, she did it to herself...
How dare they? The audacity that's inherent, the smug certainty that any one of us stacks up to more against whatever unseen hells beset her, is pompous bordering on demented. Who hasn't loved, lost, forgiven, or stayed enraged at a person consumed with destruction? Haven't we all gone on caring about those who've hurt us, who've hurt themselves, who gave up, who couldn't get well? What, about that person who we never gave up on, was any different from any one of us?
Nothing, i would bet, because i'm becoming convinced that every thing is random.
I loved an addict for four years, in my early 20's, and it was horrible. I was afraid of him and utterly smitten at the same time, and he used it against me. It took me years after he was gone to admit to myself that he slept with a lot of other women, and probably endangered my life in a number of ways. I was able to forgive him after his death fairly quickly, but death opens that door.
It took me much longer to forgive myself. I didn't love him because I was a loser or had no self esteem or couldn't do better (though maybe those things were true, regardless.) I loved him for the blinding flame inside himself. He suffered a wretched childhood and came from genes predisposed to addiction, if family history means anything. I've known a slew of other people with the same credentials who didn't shoot themselves full of poison in their mid 30s, people who sought help, pulled themselves up from despair, and soldiered on; there is no single truth, no summary why, that explains that he could not. There just isn't.
I used to allow my love for that person to define me as a failure. Now, in my astonishing life as a wife and mother, I still feel a sense of failure every day, a gnawing worry that i don't have what it takes to care for this family, to make it as a grown woman. But it's not because I loved someone who was in too much pain to go on. The willingness to love someone despite, and because, of their broken soul, even for the few years that I clung to him, is one of the things I have going for me.
What was Amy Winehouse afraid of? I don't think I can stand to know. It could have been as banal as crummy reviews, or as keen and ferocious as illness or abuse, or something else entirely that we've never considered. But I do know that it's impossible, at least for me, to imagine being her, and stopping; cleaning up and stepping out into broad daylight; I couldn't have done it. Everybody waiting on you to fuck up, tapping their toes, mistrustful, sanctimonious...
Maybe she was afraid of getting well; it might have been worse.