Watching the movie “Amy”, a documentary about the life of eclectic singer Amy Winehouse, was quite challenging for me. While the film itself was an incredible montage of the fractured life she lived, it was also a harsh reminder of all the people I’ve sponsored or known in recovery that never made it.
Lately it truly seems as if people are dropping like flies inside and outside the recovery world, each dying from self-inflicted causes that could have been prevented by getting some help through the 12 Steps, therapy, or some other self-help outlet. “Amy” is no different, as it’s an extremely stark portrayal of just one of the many who have gone down that road, avoiding doing any work on themselves and instead hoping their problems would just go away on their own. This is specifically why I was against going to see this movie because I see this time and again, week after week through my life in recovery. But, due to a promise I made to my partner that I’d go see it with him (Amy Winehouse is one of his favorite all-time singers), I reluctantly headed to a local theater about a week ago to catch a matinee of it.
I must say it really was difficult sitting there in my seat seeing Amy Winehouse avoid the issues that plagued her the most, one mainly being a mostly absent father from her childhood. What was ironic though, was that when her fame began to grow, her father took a more active role in her life, but from what mostly appeared to be purely selfish interests. In fact, one of Amy’s most well-known songs is “Rehab”, which originated out of her father telling her she didn’t need to go to one and that she’d be just fine.
What I didn’t know about Amy’s life was that she also suffered from bulimia since the age of 15. That condition combined with her alcohol and drug issues, as well as the emotional demons that plagued her silently from within for most of her life, eventually took its final toll on her at 27 years old.
The documentary really does a fantastic job showing all the things I see on such a regular basis nowadays in my recovery from addiction life. So many come into the rooms and hope for a magic cure, wanting a wand to be waved and all their own demons to suddenly disappear. I too would have loved that to happen, but it never did and I only grew worse waiting for that just like Amy did.
Alcohol and drugs, and many other addictions are great temporary relievers of pain, but they also inevitably only lead to one conclusion, death. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones, having learned there is freedom from addictions, as well as mental and emotional disorders, but it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, Amy chose to avoid doing that and instead numbed herself from all her pain until it took her life in 2011.
Watching this film, it was easy to want to blame all her problems and her ultimate demise on her dad or a number of other things like the toxic guy she dated and even married or the pressures of being famous. But the sad truth is that the only person who could have changed any of it was Amy and she never tried to. Instead she clung to codependent relationships and simultaneously submersed herself into her music and alcohol and drugs. The most intensely painful moment for me though while watching her life on the big screen was when she went up on stage in one of her final concerts and was so drunk she couldn’t even sing. Hearing the boos from an audience who had no idea just how sick she was spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically was quite hard to swallow.
Until someone either goes through what Amy went through themselves or encounters it with a very close friend or loved one, they’re never going to understand just how tough it is to battle addictions and/or mental disorders. Thankfully I’ve endured both and find myself getting a little emotional now as I write these final words, thinking about all the wonderful souls like Amy who never were able to rise above them. My only hope is that more people will try to understand, will go see more movies like “Amy”, and will stop judging and blaming what they think causes deaths like hers.
The fact will always remain that the only person who can ultimately change any of it, is the person who’s sick. They have to be the one who seeks help. Regrettably Amy did not, and neither did four of my former sponsees who died in similar fashion. My heart and prayers go out to all those like them who have perished like this, especially you Amy Winehouse, because you truly had such a beautiful gift that blessed so many like my partner. While I’m sad you’re gone now, I am grateful to say I understand a little better some of the pain you went through during your life, all because of a well-done documentary named “Amy”.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson