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The Sobriety of Truth

It’s Me!



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“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”—Buddha

This may be my last blog about Whitney Houston, but I really can’t promise it as I continue to lament on her artistry that I loved so much. Just like you, I have been watching the news, reading the papers, getting the latest updates on the Whitney Houston tragedy via text messages and twitter and Facebook. Glued to the outlets is definitely an understatement as I try to come to grips with the fact that this woman, mother, daughter and person is no longer with us. The craziest thing however is that I am not shocked that she sufficed to her own demons. Whitney is mostly to blame for her own demise–I make no excuses for her.  On the other hand, I am outdone because the people she entrusted to do for her what she didn’t have to strength do for herself were so negligent in their duties.  She didn’t have honest people on her payroll or in her inner circle.  Whitney Houston and many of the high-profile deaths we’ve witnessed over the years of beloved stars had several things in common—they all traveled with large entourages, maintained exorbitant payrolls, and were severely intoxicated from the lies of the people closest to them on a daily basis.

I watched a video with singer Kelly Price in which she was speaking on a Grammy Red Carpet about her last encounter with Ms. Houston the Thursday before her death. Kelly Price recounted their final meeting as if she had been living in a dream, really telling the story the way she wished their encounter had actually happened rather than telling it the way that it was. In her testimony she relayed that Whitney Houston was “happy” and that she was “celebrating.” She also continued to say that Whitney Houston was “sober,” but in the very next sentence she stated, “She may have been a little tipsy…” This paradoxical account from Kelly Price suggests that she too was in denial about Whitney Houston’s condition because there is no possible way anyone can be both sober and tipsy. Alanis Morrisett wrote a song about incidences like these and called the song “Ironic.”  Furthermore, Whitney Houston had just recently been seeking rehabilitation for her substance abuse which means she should not have been anywhere remotely close to any champagne.  Although we live in a culture determined to “keep it real,” a phrase that even Whitney Houston used in her song “Try it On My Own,” Kelly Price did not speak the truth. Whitney Houston was not okay. She was not sober.

There are many times each of us has wished that we were not dealt the bitter taste of truth, but hindsight has provided a reason to be thankful.  In emotional tirades, egos are bruised and our pride pokes its angry chest out a little further when the truth presented is not what we are ready to receive. But, in the moments when our ability to be rational is compromised by the distraction of self-gratification, is when we need the anchors of our friends the most.  On Saturday February 11th, 2012, Whitney Houston didn’t have anyone. There was no one to check Whitney’s already fragile and insecure ego. Unfortunately, for people like her, there is always a buffer or a handler to soften the blows preventing the smack to provide her with the impact she may have needed.  Whitney Houston suffered from addiction like so many of us. Although most of us don’t consume drugs and alcohol, we are addicted to gambling, sex, consumerism, or something else. In addition to Whitney’s drug addiction, were the compounded pressures of people-pleasing and fulfilling a $100 million contract even when she may not have been ready to make a “comeback.”  Truthfully, she didn’t need to make a “comeback.”  Whitney Houston had never gone anywhere. And, there was nothing for Whitney to prove.  If she had never sung another song after the Bodyguard or Waiting to Exhale Soundtracks, she had already used her talents well beyond what most of us do with the blessings of our gifts. Once again, as the truth about her readiness was withheld, the more the pressure was applied.

As the pieces of the story behind Whitney Houston’s rocky journey in the music business are put together, I find myself going through an emotional requiem. I never had the pleasure or maybe even the displeasure of meeting Whitney Houston (I simply say displeasure because I don’t know what our encounter may have been like.), but I still feel a grave loss in society without her.  At her best, she contributed so much feeling and passion through her music and her smile. At her worst, I’m certain she contributed a lot of pain and anger.  I really wish humility were more of a prevalent part of human nature than denial and defensiveness.  As I often do, I surround myself with many good and mostly seasoned mentors because I always feel that they are going to steer me in the right direction. One of several mentors I’ve been blessed to have is battling mental illness. Monday night she became upset with me because as she relayed one of her many tales to me, I just couldn’t commit to taking this journey of make-believe with her any longer. I couldn’t listen to her as we stood on the platform of the bus station and allow her to believe for one minute that I was an accomplice to the fantasies of her mind because reality was whispering something different to me—it was telling me to tell her truth.  In frustration, she looked at me and said, “I don’t know why I am even telling you because you think I am crazy.”  I simply looked at her and said, “Lady (not her real name) I don’t think you’re crazy, but I do believe you need to be treatment for your mental health illness immediately.”  She retorted that I had disappointed her and that I didn’t know what it felt like to not have someone believe you.  As I began refuting the fantastical tales she was weaving, I saw her eyes harden upon me and she began looking at me as if she were looking into the eyes of Beelzebub.  Of course I was disappointed and hurt, but I felt relief.  She needed to know that she was showing signs of paranoia and being delusional. She also needed to know that I would be there to support as she supported herself by getting help. Ultimately, she needed to hear the truth from someone she trusted.*

If celebrities continue to entrust their lives into the hands of staff members like assistants and bodyguards, these people have an obligation to be truth tellers. The staff’s livelihood depends on keeping these celebrities alive and well, but lately it seems as if they have been doing such an awful job!  Celebrities have the resources to employ a plethora of people from usually one source—their gifts. The pay offs are enormous in show business; thus, whatever a star wants he or she can pay for. But, usually what the celebrity needs is free of charge and nothing more than plain, unadulterated truth.  Alcohol and drugs can dull the pain but for so long. Truth, while hurtful initially, has a way of empowering us so that we can be better than we have ever been in our lives.  This is when we become sober.  NBC used to run a public service campaign called “The more you know…”  The more we are exposed to truth, the better we become. I want to be better.

*As of Tuesday, Lady* was admitted into a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Truth and Nothing but…Z, you are a gifted woman who sees and has the strength to speak “truth”. As always I am in awe of you and your gift, as much as I as proud to have the same bloodline running through my veins. I feel the loss of Whitney Houston as much as I did when Phyllis Hymen left this world. Phyllis was hurting and no one acknowledged that. I said to myself that if I were ever able to be in her company, I would have told her not what a wonderful songstress or woman she was or but that her beauty can be felt in her outpouring. That she could be a friend, not strings attached. Thank you for this outpouring

  2. Anonymous says:

    I really appreciate this message and this post…immensely. Thank you! Listen–we are family. The apple don’t fall too far from the tree! 🙂 There are so many of us shrouded in lies, but the best gift that any loved one can give is the truth. Always.

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