Too many media people have reported that Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobby Kristina, is suffering from anxiety and stress. This is such a tragic sign of our cultural emotional ignorance. And such a dreadful way to feed that lack of emotional awareness. Such an unfortunate way, perhaps without even realizing it, to prevent the development of emotional maturity in our world.
Emotional maturity is not about diminishing and discounting our feelings. Rather it’s about recognizing them, feeling them, and giving them the importance they have in our beings, in our lives, and in the life of our world. Emotional growth is not about rising above our feelings. Rather it’s about building the capacity to feel and express our feelings safely – safely for us and safely for those around us. It’s about growing the awareness of which feelings are here-and-now feelings and which are feelings from long, long ago . . . so we can discern which ones need to be simply felt and perhaps acted on in the here and now, and which ones need to be felt and expressed purposefully, consciously, and safely solely for the purpose of healing. Emotional maturity is about feeling so safe with our own feelings and our safe, healthy expression of our feelings . . . that we don’t have to defend against them, demean them, be contemptuous of them anymore.
Emotional wisdom is about being able to grieve . . . whatever loss you have experienced. It’s about being able to feel and express safely all the feelings that are contained within the cauldron of grief. It’s about being able to feel the grief in the current day, and tell when there’s also grief coming up from previous times, both recent and long, long ago.
Whitney, don’t let them tell Bobbi Kristina that she’s just feeling anxiety and stress. Let’s make sure your precious daughter knows she is grieving. Let’s make sure she has the help to grieve fully and deeply. Let’s help her know that along with her grief from your death, she will likely also be feeling grief from earlier in her life – like when you and her father divorced, among other times.
Whitney, let’s give our whole hearts to helping Bobbi Kristina and the rest of the world grow their capacity to grieve deeply, fully, and safely . . . in order to grow from and through the grief, instead of getting stuck in it and acting out on themselves, others, and our precious earth. Let’s help utilize your tragic, sudden, premature death, Whitney, for healing our distorted relationships with grief and many other feelings.
© Judith Barr, 2012