Whitney Houston, Michelle Obama and the Shadow

Murray Bowen in his systems theory work shared that our unconscious emotional life and level of SELF is inherited.  

There are two Netflix shows that brought this to life. The first was Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey interview on “The Light We Carry.”  The second, Whitney Houston – “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” 

Two extraordinary women, around the same age that both had pretty strong unconscious father complexes.  A complex is a Jungian term for an unconscious constellation of energy around a particular archetype that becomes both a lens and a magnet for the inner and outer life. In Vedic terms this could be a sanskara (impression) on the psyche. The father or masculine is how one relates to self and the world. One had a positive father complex (supportive, internally directed, steadfast and principled) and one had a negative father complex (critical, controlling, narcissistic and abusive). And… possible to have a mix.

Michelle Obama, had a father who role saw her, supported her development and role modeled ownership over one’s inner life (as he suffered with multiple sclerosis and a series of disappointments yet regulated his own emotions and presence as a father).  In the interview with Oprah, she quotes her relationship with her father as a key factor in being able to “see” Barack Obama clearly as well as “seeing” herself and her role in her worth and happiness. The Light she carries and writes about has to do with the light passed on – a light that looks deeply into the roots and shadows where spirituality is grounded. She is a descendent of slavery – and her family also carries a tremendous amount of trauma. The question I wondered was who in her lineage started the inner work, if at all…I don’t know – a mystery. 

 Whitney Houston, holds the Guinness World Record of the most awarded female artist with over 400 music awards, 6 grammy awards and 2 diamond albums. Despite being the Greatest of All Time as a vocal artist and earning so much, she died with a lot of debt (a negative net worth), a father she was  fused with who used her financially and then sued her for 100 million before his death, an abusive marriage and a life long battle with cocaine addiction. Though highly gifted, she was unable to truly see herself and see others. Unfortunately, her only daughter died at a young age in the same tragic way as Whitney (carrying the generational pattern). Her daughter took on Whitney’s inheritance. 

Both started with a different unconscious emotional inheritance based on the systems they were in. And this is not to blame or applaud the inheritance. It is to say our Self and patterns begin in generations LONG before us. Part of stepping into conscious adult life is awakening to that, owning what is now ours and creating a new inheritance that is generative. 

Reflection: What are you stepping into? 

kind regards,

P.s. Chat GPT did not write this.