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BBC: ‘Amy, My Daughter’.

Happy Saturday! I am so, so happy it’s the weekend (I hate being that person) – this week was so crazy at work and, even though I have lots of things on my to-do list this weekend, I’m happy just to be out of the office.

I actually read the latest pick from Blanche’s Book Club in one sitting last Sunday, but it’s taken me all week to gather my thoughts on it for you. So let’s get into it! Today, I’m talking about, “Amy, My Daughter” by Mitch Winehouse. Here is the description from Amazon:

The intimate, inside story of the ultimately tragic life of multiple Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse (“Rehab,” “Back to Black”)  is told by the one person most able to tell it—Amy’s closest advisor, her inspiration, and best friend: her father, Mitch. Amy, My Daughter includes exclusive, never-before-seen photos and paints an open and honest portrait of one of the greatest musical talents of our time.

Before I get into the heart of the book, I want to say that it took me a really long time to read it. Amy Winehouse’s album “Back to Black” changed my life – sounds super cheesy, but I loved that album (still do).

I listened to it on repeat, and when she got her first “Rolling Stone” cover, I was quick to buy it and read the feature. But it was then I realized all of the drug references in her album were…actually true. And I cried. I remember calling my mom and saying that Amy Winehouse was going to die and why was she living like that?

But still, I loved her and her music, and I framed that cover and hung it in my apartment. Today, it’s hanging in my kitchen. When I learned about Amy’s death, I was heartbroken. I can’t say I was surprised, but I felt she was gone way too soon.

Since then, however, I’ve lived a little more. I’ve dated an addict. And I’ve seen just how bad things can get. I know what it’s like to be with someone that’s possibly the worst person in the world for you. I know what it’s like to hang around a bad crowd. And I know what it’s like to not give a shit about yourself to the point of danger.

When I finally picked this book up from the library and posted about it on social media – I got messages immediately. I was quickly reminded just how controversial Amy was/is and how many questions still surround her short life, and the way she died.

I’ll admit that I didn’t read much press about Amy, even when she was alive. I knew about her husband, Blake, and I knew she was battling addiction and was very close to being thrown in jail. I saw clips of her drunken performances. But, that’s about it.

I still haven’t watched the documentary, and I didn’t know much about her family before reading this book. What I did know, though, is that you cannot force an addict to get help. An addict has to want to get the help for themselves.

I also knew that myself, nor any of the people spouting off opinions, have ever been famous to the point that Amy Winehouse was. Photographers basically lived in her yard, waiting for her to step outside. None of us know what that’s like.

Her music came from a place of pain. In a way, that’s why it was so good. But it was also a part of her downfall.

So, let’s get into the book.

For starters, it’s written by Amy’s dad, Mitch – an important consideration when he talks about his opinion of Amy’s music, and her hair and makeup (heh). He basically is telling Amy’s life story, but most of it does focus on the years when she was in the spotlight while battling addiction. Here are some of the lines I made note of:

  • It was precisely because her songs were dragged up out of her soul that they were so powerful and passionate. The ones that went into Back to Black were about the deepest of emotions. And she went through hell to make it.
  • While the album’s success altered Amy’s career in every way imaginable, it came with a high price tag. The nature of the songs made it hard for her to feel as excited as you might expect about the album’s reception and success. Whereas people might walk along the street humming “Love is a Losing Game”, to Amy it was like a knife in her heart, a reminder of the worst of times.
  • I didn’t think Amy would die, but I just couldn’t see a way out of this. You don’t become an expert in anything overnight, and I was still learning how best to deal with an addict.
  • Perhaps the most difficult thing about loving and helping an addict, which most people who haven’t been through it don’t understand, is this: every day the cycle continues is your new worst day. When looked at from the outside it seems endless, the same thing over and over again, but when you’re living it, it’s like being a hamster on a wheel.

I want to touch on that last point. Amy went to rehab more than a dozen times. Honestly, reading about all of her incidents in the book became a bit exhausting. Each page was starting to sound the same – in the morning she’d say she wanted to get clean, and by lunch there were drug dealers bringing her crack and by nightfall, she was high. The next day, the same thing.

Even with a nurse by her side, waiting for the 12-hour sobriety mark so she could start a proper detox, Amy could not stay sober. She often had drugs brought to her in rehab – stuffed inside teddy bears or hidden in flower bouquets.

As much as I loved her, she lived probably longer than a similar addict would have. Her family did everything they could to help her – kicking people out of her house, supporting her music, hiring guards to keep drug dealers out of rehab, etc.

I cried while reading this book, as it truly is just a tragic story. A talent gone too soon. Some of the most beautiful things come from the darkest of places – but there is often a price to pay, and she suffered the ultimate one.

My heart breaks for her family, particularly her dad, but I know there are fans across the world that will never forget the gift she left all of us, and the path she created for a new kind of woman in music.

I wish I could say no regrets
And no emotional debts
Cause as we kiss goodbye the sun sets
So we are history
The shadow covers me
The sky above ablaze that only lovers see

-Amy Winehouse, “Tears Dry On Their Own”

I’m recommending this book to Amy Winehouse fans – especially those that were not jaded from the (apparently) subjective view of the documentary.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “How to Party With an Infant” by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

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Addicted to love?

Nothing like a Robert Palmer reference to jump start your Monday, right?

A few weeks ago, a fabulous friend pointed me toward a Modern Love article from the New York Times, “Overcoming Love Addiction: One Apple Martini at a Time.”

The title intrigued me, but the author said things I could really identify with.

My weekend in Pittsburgh turned out to be the worst thing for a love addict: a storybook romance of candlelit dinners and hand-holding in the Mount Washington neighborhood. Two weeks later she came to visit me, and as we walked along a Long Island beach, arm in arm, I felt a high that no drug could ever top.

Two months later she moved west for a bigger job in a bigger market, and her late night “I miss you” phone calls stopped. I never saw her again.

So, I got to wondering… Is there such a thing as love addiction? And, of course, do I have it?

According to an article on eHarmony.com, love addiction is a very real thing and it happens when people fall in love with people who won’t return the same love they are giving. Check. And check.

It often happens to those who were neglected or abandoned. And then, this often happens:

This is what goes on with them: First of all, when you are getting neglected and you are spending a lot of time alone, what happens is you don’t know what it means to be connected or relational to other people. You spend a lot of time alone daydreaming and making up fantasies in your head that make you feel better because what you are making up in your head in fantasy will chemically change your body and create a sense of joy or relief. That [chemical change] is what they are actually addicted to. The addiction isn’t to love as much as it is to the fantasy.

Holy. Shit. Holy shit.

So, how do I get treatment? Oh, just like you would with any other addiction, of course: a 12-step program.

Hi, my name is Holly and I’m addicted to love.

I don’t know, the more I read, the less it sounded like me — it said sometimes people who are addicted to love even kill their partner. Uh, no.

I do think it’s safe to say that I’m addicted and/or obsessed with the idea of love. And I’m always very fascinated when I meet couples who truly seem like they’ve found their match. And I wonder how it happened, will it happen for me, and will it be just as magical?

Isn’t that what we’re all asking?