I have to be honest with you guys and tell you that it took me a while to finally watch this documentary. Not because I didn’t want to watch it but because I knew that it would trigger some deep-seeded emotions inside of me. I’m 37yrs old so this album dropped when I was young and at the most vulnerable. I mean this took me back to a place that I thought I left in the past. Back when I was just a lost little girl trying to survive a world hellbent on destroying me, well at least that’s how I felt back then.
My Life hit the charts in 1994 when I was 11/12 years old and let me tell you it has held my emotions hostage ever since. That album, her voice, her look, and her pain poured out of my cd player and was like a light and darkness in my life at the time. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this world but it would also nurture the bitterness and hurt that was already slowly brewing inside of me. It would be the birth of the version of me that was angry and overly protective. I would spend years fighting anyone and everyone that I thought was trying to hurt me. When I first heard it, it felt like she was singing directly to my pain and loneliness. Now don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of ALL of her albums but “MY LIFE” would be the album that would become the soundtrack to the darkness that plagued my own life well into my 30’s.
It’s crazy that at that time, my actual life was being dismantled by the adults that were supposed to protect it. My parents had broken up and I watched my mother go through a public heartbreak from a relationship that I think she didn’t want to leave even though he didn’t deserve her. I watched her pick up the pieces of herself that my father broke but at the same time be in love with him. I was always confused by that! Growing up in this environment didn’t do anything for me but make me want to NEVER fall in love or get married. I was a kid living in an emotionally neglectful home dealing with some real adult situations and no one to talk to.
So after years of feeling like I was always on the receiving end of my mothers’ anger and the feeling of abandonment from my father music became my escape. With this album, I was able to fly away from my tiny space. A space where I wasn’t acknowledged or in control of my surroundings to a place where I’m strong and in control.
A place where I could be loud and over the top!
A place where I could be quiet and not be told I have an attitude!
A place where I didn’t feel like I was being punished for my existence!
Even though I know that Mary J was going through some heavy shit when she recorded and released MY LIFE it still spoke to me. Spoke to every emotion I had at the time. Listening to how she would use alcohol, drugs, and music to survive her own life was like a subtitle to my own. I can remember not being able to even be around myself if I wasn’t high on some substance. I didn’t have a relationship that mirrored hers and KC’s but boyyy was I a piece of work on my own. I was so hurtful, defensive, angry, uncompromising, and a downright mess. I actually thought I was being protective of myself when I was actually just abusive. I’m so happy to not be that person anymore.
As I got older, I always wondered does she (MJB) know what this album has meant to so many people over the years. Like does she know that it has saved lives and relationships? As I watched her fans get emotional just to be in her presence and tell her how much the album meant to them I could see the uneasiness on her face. You could literally see the discomfort in her body language. I mean if you know anything about MJB’s story you have to understand her awkwardness. That has to be an emotional heavy feeling to know that the album that you dropped to help release your darkness and bitterness is something that your fans listen to so they can feel better. An album made when you were at a place in your life that you don’t want to be reminded of is also a place that your fans want to say THANK YOU for. As I walk this journey to find myself through writing I know for a fact it’s a message in our mess and it was a message in that album that will live on forever. I feel like this album should have made me feel sad but in actuality, it made me feel safe and understood.
It amazes me that the lyrics in MY LIFE literally say…
“When you’re feeling down, you should never fake it. Say what’s on your mind and you’ll find in time that all the negative energy. It will all cease. And you will be at peace with yourself”
It took me years to put action behind these words and from the documentary I’ve learned, so did Mary…