On February 8th 2009, a former child star put his fists all over a budding R&B singer.
Chris Brown and Rihanna were only 20 years-old the night that their romance came to an end, and since that day both lives have been a patchwork quilt of financial successes and personal trials.
For his part Brown was arrested, booked, and eventually plead guilty to a felony assault charge. After an initial apology and brief hiatus, he spent the next three years doing little to convince the general public that he was a person of reasonable temper and ego.
This isn’t to say that everybody hated Chris; his fans got over the incident quite quickly. In fact Brown himself was surprised that anybody still wanted to talk about his violence towards a woman he loved; going so far as to trash his dressing room and storm off of the set at Good Morning America when host Robin Roberts dared to bring it up.
Anybody who wanted to know how Brown felt about the media “betrayal” he experienced needed to only check his twitter feed: “I’m so over people bring this past s**t up!! Yet we praise Charlie Sheen and other celebs for there b******t.”
He couldn’t seem to understand that people who didn’t need his music had a hard time forgetting that his rage sent a woman to the doctor looking like this.
While last three years have been great for Rihanna’s career, they certainly haven’t been great for her health. Assessing personal wear with people in their twenties is a lot like buying a used car, it’s not really the years you’re looking at, it’s the mileage.
The Barbadian has put a lot of hard miles in recently. In the last year the hard-partying singer has cancelled three public appearances and been hospitalized for “exhaustion” twice.
When your weekend leaves you in need of an I.V. you’ve clearly left reality and wandered into the dreamscape populated by Goldie Hawn, Tara Reid, and Lindsey Lohan.
Still this sort of behavior doesn’t usually make waves in the world of celebrity. What did rock the boat was Sunday night’s personal interview with Oprah Winfrey where Rihanna dropped the bomb that she still loved Chris Brown.
“It’s awkward because I still love him. My stomach drops and I have to maintain this poker face and not let it get to the outer part of me…I think he was the love of my life.”
It was a glimpse into the kind of broken heart that keeps running, so that it can keep beating.
To still the desire the man who beat you isn’t actually a rare thing, it happens every day across our world, regardless of culture. It’s something that is actually as common as misunderstanding what love truly means.
While love is a many splendored thing, many of us choose to zero in on just one of the ways that love can be splendid: How it makes us feel.
In the Same way that there’s a difference between being in love and having strong feelings for someone, there’s also a difference between love and need. I’m not going to say that Rihanna doesn’t truly love Chris Brown (I don’t know either of them personally) but I am going to say that her statements reveal that she still NEEDS Chris Brown.
A bit too much actually.
Anytime we aren’t willing to walk away from something, or someone, that is clearly bad for us we have to asses whether or not that person or thing is actually in control of us.
While there is nothing wrong with desiring to be with someone, love isn’t truly about what we need, or get, from them. It’s about whether or not WE are actually good for them, and are willing to lay down our needs to serve theirs.
There’s an adolescent myth stitched on the pillow of our hearts that reads, “Don’t marry the person you can live with, marry the person that you can’t live without.”
Sadly, possessiveness and need aren’t the arbiters of love that we believe them to be, they are actually compass points that mark the way into a lifestyle of co-dependency.
Our self-centered beliefs about love look like this: “If you meet this need in me, I will meet this need in you”, but this isn’t the definition of love, it’s the definition of commerce and exploitation.
Relationships often fail because the other person wasn’t able to hold up THEIR end of the deal…
…mostly because they couldn’t fix a heart they didn’t break in the first place.
When we need someone because of how they make us feel about ourselves, we become willing to do, and put up with, anything that it takes to stay hooked on that feeling.
It’s a subtle admission that not only do we consider our own desires to be more important that our well-being, but that we also cannot define ourselves without that person in the description.
We only feel whole when we possess, and are possessed by someone else.
It’s a life spent gaining purpose and significance by attaching ourselves to another person’s meaning and significance.
It leads to panicked grasps at freedom from the person we once desired to be dominated by,
Only to pine for the false sense of stability that came with their affirmation.
So we return to it until we realize that no person could actually satisfy the cravings of a heart wounded by the absence of love.
Somewhere in the wounded heart of a 24 year-old pop princess is a lovesick little girl who grew up the child of an addict in a developing country. It’s the kind of rough start that doesn’t fully allow a child to develop an understanding of how wide, how high, and how deep LOVE really is.
Don’t be shocked that she still needs an abusive man. Don’t be angry that she can’t get over a self-centered superstar. Be grieved that Rihanna is running on empty, still chasing a feeling that she lost long before her beauty and talent turned her into a commodity to export and exploit.
Our world is filled with impoverished princesses running down the same path.
They are little girls who desperately believe in a love that they cannot understand.
They need help letting go of people who lack the capacity to help them find it.
Love doesn’t beat, get out now.