(Video link here.) We were really sad to hear of Amy Winehouse’s passing at the age of 27. We were aware of her wild descent in the corner of our consciousness, through tabloid headlines mainly. When we read the news of her death, we found ourselves watching one YouTube video after another, trying to piece together her story. Over seven or so years of videos, the change from her early appearances at the age of twenty to later concerts is startling, as she gradually morphed from patently ladylike to crazily beehived and tattooed, as she became thinner and thinner. We saw, in hindsight, a person crashing and burning. The constant in all the videos was a look in her eyes, a mix of fear and uncertainty and…what?
In an interview, Winehouse said the lyrics she wrote were autobiographical. The haunting refrain from You Know I’m No Good is one we’ve heard echoed by many people we’ve known, who’ve struggled with addiction of various kinds, or fought simply to live in the world being themselves: to just BE without tearing themselves down:
I cheated myself,
Like I knew I would,
I told you I was trouble,
You know that I’m no good
Maia Szalavitz, who herself has struggled with addiction, wrote an incredibly insightful piece for Time.com that gives a more nuanced of view Amy Winehouse than we’ve seen elsewhere. The heart-breaking gist: “ Contrary to popular belief… it’s not the euphoria [of drugs] that hooks you. Instead, it’s the ability simply to feel OK, the silencing of that voice of self-hate and the small sense of adequacy that comes in those quiet moments….Blaming drugs or Winehouse’s ‘enablers’ for her death misses the point: what she needed was compassion, most of all from herself.”
“I’m bad, I’m worthless, I’m no good” are some of the most powerful negatives we know because they live within us. For some people, that kind of internal message is just too much; they can’t live under its destructive force. For others, it requires a daily ‘practice’ to think in another way, turning the negative into positive, and gradually changing the pattern…
…even little…by…little…is good/enough.