Yesterday, I was one of the millions of people around the world glued to CNN watching the homegoing service for Whitney Houston. I’ve struggled to write this post since last Saturday when I was about to get dressed to attend Clive Davis’s party at the hotel where Whitney’s body was found. This is probably the hardest post I’ve ever written because of my admiration for Whitney, and the hard truth I’m about to lay out.
As I watched the service and followed the news commentary this week, I became very upset by the whole “Bobby Brown is to blame” conversation that seemed to be on everyone’s lips. Unfortunately, this conversation actually dates back years ago to when it became clear that Bobby and Whitney were not the best match.
For example, earlier during the week, I re-watched Oprah’s 2009 interview with Whitney Houston. I remember being pissed back then over the focus and tone Oprah chose to take as she questioned Whitney about Bobby, and this time around I was even more disturbed.
As I watched Whitney talk to Oprah in this supposedly real-deal conversation about the drugs she did with Bobby, and heard her call Bobby her “drug” while confirming that she did tell Diane Sawyer in their 2002 interview that her addiction was making love, I wondered why Oprah didn’t take Whitney to task for choosing Bobby. Instead, Oprah, like so many other people who have interviewed her, made Bobby out to be a total villain and responsible for all of Whitney’s problems.
I think its 100% wrong to blame Bobby for any part of Whitney’s troubles. Whitney chose Bobby. I don’t recall reading a front-page newspaper headline that said, “Bobby put a gun to Whitney’s head and made her date him.” I also missed the breaking news story on how Bobby physically forced her to use cocaine or abuse alcohol. No, Whitney chose him and she did this knowing his past, which included drinking, drugging, womanizing, having babies out of wedlock, and every other thing that helped him earn his “bad boy” reputation. The bottom line is that Bobby was being Bobby Brown when Whitney met him, yet she still allowed him into her life and later married him.
Speaking of her marriage, when Oprah asked her why she stayed with Bobby, Whitney said: “I was determined to keep my vows. I believe in holy matrimony; it’s how I was raised.
While she may have convinced herself of this, it simply can’t be true. Oprah’s next question should have been: “If you truly believe in holy matrimony, why did you choose a man like Bobby Brown? What part of his life showed you his capability to be an honorable, honest husband? What part of his life showed you his ability to commit and cherish you ‘till death do you part?
Had Oprah chosen that line of questioning, a light bulb might have gone off in Whitney’s head about the importance of taking responsibility for her choices. She might have realized how that one choice negatively affected other areas of her life, and then there could have been a moment of deep introspection that might have led to healing.
Instead, Oprah says, “You were trying to be the good wife and stand by your man. You took your vows seriously…I get that.” Again, instead of challenging Whitney to acknowledge the true role she played in causing her own troubles, Oprah pacified Whitney and made her out to be a saint and Bobby a sinner.
I say this not to take away from everything Whitney accomplished in her life and the legacy she leaves behind. BUT while hers is a story of a woman who recognized her gift and used it to make a difference, it is also a story of what happens when you don’t take responsibility for your choices. As Whitney herself once said, “No one makes me do anything I don’t want to do. It’s my decision.”
Dear Single Lady, if you want to be married and you believe in marriage in the way Whitney expressed, you need to pick a man who is capable of supporting that belief. A womanizing, drinking, drugging thug might not be the best husband choice.
A man has to show you evidence of his ability to commit and marry. You must look at the patterns of his life to really see who he is and what he is capable of. Men show and tell us who they are all day and they show us what they are capable of all the time. It’s up to us to pay attention and give careful thought to the consequences of our choices.
Here is what I know to be true: The men we hang out with and date have a tendency to rub off on us. We become like those we spend time with. One bad man choice can derail your life into a ditch that will take you a lifetime to climb out of—if you ever get out of it.
At the end of the day, women must take responsibility for our bad men choices. Taking responsibility is the only way to really learn the lesson and never repeat the bad choice. You owe it to yourself.
In closing, there’s an old proverb that says, “He who keeps company with wolves will learn to howl.”
Something to think about …