Wikipedia says it this way: In 2009, Guiness World Records cited her as the most-awarded female act of all time. Her list of awards includes two Emmy Awards, six Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, and 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston was also one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide.
So, didn’t she almost have it all?
Like all addicts, she knew what was missing – big time.
Rabbi Shais Taub, in his wonderful book God of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction, writes:
Our somethingness is not our true essence. Oneness is our true essence. Not that it bothers all of us equally. Some people can live with it. Some people can’t…. The real problem that lies at the core of addiction is that addicts are people who are in dire need of a relationship with God but are able to substitute fulfilling this need with a behavior that is essentially self-destructive.
The real problem is that a hollow sound reverberates within our souls once our awards get placed on the shelf. Awards, applause, and notoriety only take away the loneliness very briefly.
Drugs, alcohol, , illicit sex, gambling – and of course that whole bag of potato chips – can take away the pain of loneliness for only so long. And then the yearning for that elusive unconditional love only grows more and more intense. And the search gets ever more frantic, with the pain being so unbearable it needs to be kept numbed, so that it can’t be felt at all.
Addicts are those who can’t live feeling alone, which really means apart from God, the only source of unconditional love there actually is. Some people, it seems, can handle the separation, but those more sensitive – with their souls more exposed, and aware of the great love that is missing in their lives – cannot.
We may think babies or pets can love us unconditionally, but that’s not real love; they are just trying to get their needs met. Physical beings can’t love unconditionally – only spiritual entities, with unlimited capabilities, truly can.
If we acknowledge the loneliness that is widespread, and then mine beneath the loneliness, we can discover that each of us is never actually alone. We are all on this amazing journey together – with all of our souls connected and amazingly intertwined.
We are all here to help each other through, revealing the full potential of each of our souls. Whenever the Oneness becomes clear, the love keeps reverberating. Whitney Houston, a sensitive and extraordinarily gifted person, felt what was missing in her life strongly, as indeed many of us have. Being extremely talented, beautiful, powerful or wealthy can, however, lead to extreme anxiety if the source and purpose of one’s great gifts are not embraced over and over again.
Whenever we forget and are cut off from the source of all our blessings, we experience a similar estrangement. This time, we saw it magnified to superstardom size. The pain that comes from feeling isolated – as opposed to feeling spiritually in union with the origin of all blessings – became unbearable.
The cause of all of our addictions is the suffering we experience when our souls become blocked off from the infinite whole of which they are an essential part. Abuse causes that blockage to occur, as the intrinsic value of those victimized – their godliness – becomes negated.
When that connection gets obstructed, addictions are the desperate attempt to seek whatever temporary relief can be found. Relief is sought to escape the despair that results from the perceived loss of that vital bond.
Even all the awards in the world can’t make that kind of hurting end.
We thrive when we experience the deepest pleasure from the most intimate relationship possible – the one between our essence and its Source. When that relationship is viewed as severed, our gratitude dries up too, as we no longer understand from where all our gifts come.
A powerful God-given voice flowed through her. A stirring message can still resonate.
Bracha Goetz leads a spirituality group at Jewish Recovery Houses, coordinates a Jewish Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program in Baltimore, and has written sixteen children’s books including “Remarkable Park” and “Let’s Stay Safe!” She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.