I haven’t read the articles about Amy Winehouse’s passing, but you’d have to live in a cave not to be at least peripherally aware of her story.
The salient details which stand out for me are: young / talented + struggling with addiction / in & out of rehab.
I’ve never been to rehab, or to addictions counselling, but ever since a young age I’ve been terrified that I’d end up an alcoholic, living under a bridge. It’s all too easy for me to slip from yoga every morning to vodka coolers every night. I vacillate between these lifestyles on a more regular basis than I’d care to admit.
As I thought about Amy, I wondered: do all famous people have mental / emotional health problems?
What makes someone crave the limelight? What makes us need to get up on stage and hog all the attention? I’ve done this since childhood – is it healthy? Would a normal person want to be rich & famous? What drives those of us who do?
Writing to share
In 2010, I decided to finally pull out all the stops, and see how far I could go with my writing. I’m not creative, driven, or genius enough to scribble away until the wee hours in my striped pajamas, forgetting to eat, then tossing the crumpled pages willy-nilly about my writing room in disgust at my lack of brilliance (this is how I imagine creative geniuses…genii?…live…)
I write to learn about the world around me, but a lot of my writing looks within rather than out. I write in the hopes of transforming the deeply personal into the universal. I write to not feel so alone. To my delight (and relief), I’ve found others who share my feelings (witness the comments to Tuesday’s post, Natural-born Cougar: Sex and the ADHD Woman).
While I’ve always known that these are my reasons for my writing, I haven’t dwelled on some of the other reasons – until recently.
Almost famous…be careful what you ask for…
A few days ago, after a phone call with a close friend, I had an Aha! moment. I’d told him about a recent success I’d had with my writing. He said, “I’m proud to know you, Z.” He’s said this before, but this time, it didn’t sit well.
His recognition of my progress left me wondering what would happen if I ever did pull off a best-seller.
Could I handle it? Would it change me? Would I turn into a jerk? Am I that insubstantial that I’d fall prey to my potential addictions and weaknesses? Look at Amy. And Janis. And Jimi – not that I’d ever become as famous as any of them. Even so, am I strong enough to withstand realizing the dream I’ve worked so hard for?
Then the Aha! moment struck: I’d been telling myself for decades, “If I were famous, everyone would love me.” I would matter.
After this memory I thought, “I don’t want to be loved because I’m rich and famous. I just want to be loved.”
I realized that if people only loved me because of my wealth or fame, that wouldn’t really be love. (Duh.)
I’d been wanting the wrong thing for years. I suddenly recognized it for the juvenile, shallow fantasy that it was. I now see this kind of thinking as, in part, a product of my ADHD dreaminess, the part of me that daydreams in a way that’s completely unconnected with reality.
But what kind of person would equate being famous with being loved? Who would think that?
Someone with very low self-esteem would. Someone who doesn’t trust that she has talent, or trust that she is loveable just the way she is. Someone like me. Ok, not someone like me…
I would think that. I did think that, for many years. Damn.
Once I’d dispelled that erroneous thinking, I realized how truly blessed I am to have friends who do love me – just as I am – already.
Then I began to wonder what might change if my dream came to pass. Would I change? Become a total jerk? Would I be emotionally stable enough to hang on to the aspects of me that I actually like?
Then I thought of my dog Samantha…
TO BE CONTINUED…