John Legend: My Mother Disappeared Into Depression
John Legend -Give It Your All
John Legend speaks about the pain that caused him to be stoic and how he overcame fear in order to be able to love again.
Things started to fall apart when I was ten. My maternal grandmother passed away that year when she was only 58-years-old. Her death devastated my family. She was our church organist and on Sunday’s after church I would go to her house just to hang out with her. She would make chicken and collard greens and cornbread and she would teach my how to play gospel piano. She was one of my favorite people on the planet. She and my mother were also very close and her death sent my mother into a deep depression that eventually tore my family apart. My mother disappeared into over a decade of drugs and despair after my parents got divorced, and I was confused and disoriented. After the initial shock of my family breaking apart my outward response wasn’t very emotional. I coped by being stoic and seemingly unaffected. I thought if I didn’t expose myself to anymore pain and vulnerability I could never get hurt. If I didn’t fall in love no one could ever betray me like that again.
We’re taught when we’re young that the opposite of love is hate, but it’s not. Hate is a byproduct. Hate is a result. Being a hater isn’t cool. Nobody wants that, but hate comes from one thing, fear, and fear is the opposite of love. It’s not a coincidence that when we talk about bigotry we often talk in terms of fear. Homophobia, xenophobia, fear is what blinds us. Fear is corrosive. Fear makes us hold back. It whispers to us, tells us that we’ll fail. It tells us that our differences are too much to overcome. Fear locks us in place. It starts fights. It causes wars, and fear keeps us from loving. Even though we’re made to love we’re often afraid to love. We’re afraid of being hurt deeply. Afraid of feeling the pain I went through when my parents were divorced, but you’re never going to really love something or someone unless you put those fears aside.
Don’t hold back. Being in love means being ready to give freely and openly and being ready to risk something. Risking pain and disappointment. Conquering your fears and becoming anew. Alice Walker once said, “The more I wonder the more I love.” Love calls you to open your eyes. To seek to search. To wonder. Love is all consuming. It infiltrates your body and allows you to experience bliss, joy and true friendship. You’ll be more disappointed when something goes wrong you might fall harder but the only way you’ll reach any height in life and in love is by taking that chance that you might fall. You have to give your all and that will be your path to true success.