Facebook and Twitter is awash with the news that Whitney Houston sadly passed away yesterday afternoon. I didn't really believe it to begin with, a bit like hearing the death of Amy Winehouse, I just stood in the kitchen gobsmacked saying 'really?' three or four times.
I'm not a huge Whitney fan but I do have the occasional song that I like to warble too. Whitney could certainly bang out a heartbreaking song and when your relationship is going down the swanny singing "how you shattered my world with your goodbye" at the top of your lungs certainly works a treat.
And I believe this is Whitney at her best. Yes I am a child of the 80s so I think I Wanna Dance With Somebody is a catchy tune, but it's those painful love ballads filled with anguish that I remember her most for. Her torrid relationship with ex-husband Bobby Brown and their 15-year relationship of abuse and drug addiction were never far from the headlines. And her songs reflected her personal life. She sang from the heart and from experience and this is why she had such impact.
Although we don't know the cause of her death there is common public opinion that Bobby Brown is ultimately to blame for the demise of our beloved pop princess. We, the public, seem to want to believe that the fresh faced gospel singer was entrapped by the evil R&B star who lured her into a life of drug taking and physical abuse which eventually led to her death. It is difficult to watch such a talent fall from grace as Whitney did. If anyone caught her performance on X Factor in October 2009 its clear to see how completely out of it she is.
There is an interesting psychological model called the Karpman Drama Triangle which describes three roles people take in relationship and can be applied to this situation. The first role is Victim which is how we view Whitney. The second is Persecutor which is Bobby. And finally there is the Rescuer - us. Throughout her demise we wanted to rescue Whitney because we wanted her back to her former glory and it was easy to blame Bobby rather than accept that Whitney was responsible.
Is Bobby really to blame? Some say he got her into drugs but according to his autobiography he only smoked marijuana before he met her and they fell into hard drugs together.
The physical abuse seemed to be a two way street too "He slapped me once, but he got hit on the head three times by me," Houston told Opera Winfrey in 2009.
But regardless who started what, they were in the destructive relationship together and they were equally responsible for their actions and choices. In a difficult situation it's incredibly liberating to choose to opt out of the role of victim. As an adult no one makes us 'feel' or 'do' anything we don't want to do. And Bobby didn't force Whitney to take the path she did.
This is a loss to the music world. Whitney gave us much; the greatest selling single of all time by a female artist as well as the harsh lesson of the effects of a destructive relationships and drug abuse. RIP Ms Houston, we learned from the best, we learned from you.