I’ve been reading Janet Jackson’s book True You which about her lifelong struggle with body image issues. Now, anybody who knows me know that I am a stan for Janet. Velvet Rope is in my top 5 favorite albums ever made ever, ever. I remember when I first got on twitter a few of my faithful followers called me “Penny” because my cheeks are round like Janet’s were on Good Times. I happen to hate that child-like cherubic feature but I guess its certainly not going anywhere so I may as well embrace it now, huh?
Anyway, what I was not expecting was to like this book. I know…I know why would I get this book and expect not to like it? Well I didn’t know what to expect from it. She’s never been one to show her personality as a personality (always through her music) and even then that is only a fleeting expression of a moment. So I didn’t know if this book would actually be any good. Let me tell you this, its not deep or exceptionally well written,it won’t win any Pulitzers. But its so honest that you have to appreciate it in its own rite. When she talks about her internal conversations in regards to food and eating I understood it because I’ve been there. When she revealed her feelings of self-doubt and conditional self esteem, I knew that all too well too. And I know many women and girls will feel the same way reading it. I guess you just never think that you’re going to have something like that in common with someone you hold in such high regard.
I had a feeling (from the “dark masterpiece” that is Velvet Rope) that she had battled and been through severe Depression. In the book she wrote, “Depression is serious. It has a life force, but also the potential to be a death force. It has an energy that is powerful and capable of imprisoning you. You can’t ignore it and hope it’ll go away. You can’t simply say “Oh I’ll get over it.” It isn’t a matter of will power. You have to recognize its immense strength. You have to fight it as you would any other enemy…Depression wants you to feel hopeless. But there are other resources that live within our hearts–prayer, resilience, joy, gratitude, love, compassion for yourself and your emotional fragility–that will surface and give you not only hope but strength. Still, sometimes depression is so overwhelming that we can’t find our resilience and strength on our own. At such times we need others to show us that those qualities still live inside us. Just when you’re convinced that this is the day the cloud is starting to lift, ti returns for another day, another week, another month. That’s reality. Just as we have to be patient with others we have to be patient with ourselves and the brutal mood disorders that assault our sanity. We have to be patient with our impatience. The cloud will lift. It always does, but not always when we need it to.”
That’s pretty much how it goes. It’s there…its patient and powerful and just waiting for a day when you don’t feel like fighting, so you simply can’t have one of those days. A friend of hers in the book had recently gone through rehab and he spoke of how sometimes other people have to help you love yourself. I feel like that was the last two years of my life! I’m just even more in awe of her now that I’m learning more about her as a person and not just an artist. I might have a VR and Janet day tomorrow as I’m poised to complete the book by then; gotta love a day with a full platter of nothing on the table.
It just occured to me…something that Shirley McClain said in her Oprah interview about spiritual lessons in school. Oprah asked her why, if we were all recycled beings, could we not recognize each other from past lifetimes? Shirley claimed it was because we weren’t operating on a spiritual level of consciousness and we have no spiritual education to teach us how to do that. Not religious, spiritual. I have spiritual similarities to Janet…I wonder if its has anything to do with astrology? She mentioned loving running water and picking a room with a fountain outsider her window when she was a kid, reading during rain showers and driving during thunderstorms. She mentioned being very sensitive and taking things very personally when she was a kid. She mentioned a lot of things that made me think “hm”. This life just gets more and more interesting…that much is for sure.