Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Death of a Legend

I don't usually talk much about celebrity deaths. Like any other deaths, it is very sad for the family and friends. However, being a celebrity makes it more known. After all they were famous, people knew them.
The death of Robin Williams doesn't matter to me in my personal life. I never knew him, never met him, hell I never ever saw him in person. However, his movies did touch me. I enjoyed many of them but they weren't really funny movies. His movies often made me think; more often they made me really sad. I imagine that's why he took many of those roles because they gave him an outlet for his sadness.
What strikes me most about his death is that it was self-inflicted. He caused his own death because he was in a place so dark most people cannot fathom being there. I've heard quite a few people wonder how he felt so alone? I've heard people comment about his fame, his talent, his fortune, how he had it all... I've watched memorials to him, witnessed moments of silence on Broadway for him, I watched a special with him and his daughter and their obvious wonderful love for each other. I see so many famous people come out and talk about how sad they are that he died, how much he influenced their lives and made them better people.
I wonder how this man who was loved and revered by so many could have felt so alone that he killed himself in a gruesome and violent way. He didn't just take a bunch of pills and fall asleep, he didn't just put a gun to his head and pull a trigger. He died in a way that was physically painful and appears to have taken several attempts...
How could a man that had such an impact on so many lives find himself in such a dark and lonely place? How could a man with three children that loved him and friends in every corner of the world feel the drive to hang himself by a belt?
When I was younger I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to act in movies that would cut into people's hearts that would make them think about something besides themselves for a while. I wanted to be famous, yes, and rich, yes but I wanted those things so that I could do better for the world. I wanted money to help cure diabetes, I wanted fame so that I could bring more attention to the horrifying disease diabetes is. I wanted people to come watch me in movies and realize that life is more than just putting dinner on the table every day and doing the laundry. I wanted people to feel the greater world at large...
When I watched Robin Williams in movies like "Dead Poet's Society," "Good Morning Vietnam" and "Good Will Hunting" he did that for me. His characters made me feel deep inside my heart that there was something bigger in the world and that we were all working together to create a better place. I realize that this sounds incredibly naive and idealistic but deep inside I believe that all people should be happy, have a roof over their heads, medicine, food, love of family and have peace in their own minds. 
I realize that many people are unhappy. I realize that some people are so unhappy they will destroy their own life be it with drugs, alcohol, sex, food, over spending and yes even suicide.  Obviously, a happy person doesn't go about destroying the vary fabrics of their lives.
I can't help but wonder about the depths of this unhappiness though. He must have known his friends and family loved him, I mean look at all the outpouring of kindness and sympathy since we heard of his tragic suicide?
 Somewhere inside though he didn't feel that essence that made the rest of us believe in him so. He didn't understand the impact his words and talent made on the rest of the world. And really how could he? Do any of us really understand what we mean to other people? Do we really contemplate how our actions, words, feelings, relationships, choices matter to others? Do any of us think about our everyday lives, our going to work and school and how it may matter to someone close to us?
 I understand his dark place. I understand the feelings that you are completely alone in this world. I get the space in my mind that can be dark and fearful that I don't want to come out of it. I don't want to get out of bed some days. I don't want to continue going to a job that causes me stress or look at another bill collector calling me on my phone. I don't want to hear another
message that states I must call this number back immediately or more serious actions will follow. I don't want to think about the groceries I need to buy or the hair cut I can't afford to pay for. I have to buy shoes for Grace this weekend since she starts school and I'm not sure where I'll get the money.
I don't have friendships like most people either. I have friends yes. I have friends in faraway places that if they lived near me I might see on occasion. I have friends close to my home but I don't see them too often. I'm not an outgoing person and sometimes I'm more apt to hide in my house on the weekend than actually try and get together with someone. Partly this is my fault; partly this is the result of growing up alone. I was tormented as a child and that torment took away my ability to relax around other people, thus causing me serious moments of anxiety at parties, in bars and anywhere that I would need to be social. So yes part of my being alone comes from fear and anxiety. However, part of it also comes from the judgments of the people around me. The judgments of what I've done with my life and what 'they' think I should be.
Those feelings can be very overwhelming. The despair that surrounds my heart can be so brutal sometimes. I too have felt a place inside me that I didn't want to be.
But and this is the part that keeps me truly motivated... the world is always changing. Life is always moving at a speed I can never keep up with. The winds and sun are different every day and thus that means my life too is always changing. The dark place will pass by and the light will come in a variety of ways... be it through my daughter's sparkling laugh, a text message from my husband, a new book, hearing an old favorite song on the radio, an awesome episode of the "Golden Girls", an evening spent watching favorite Christmas movies, a card from my stepmother (one of the few people left who still send cards), a call from my Dad saying "Nat, Dad, just thought I'd call and see how you were." 
The darkness that Robin Williams felt was so deep nothing could get him past it. What makes me so incredibly sad is that he was surrounded by love but he didn't know it? All these people that come out now talking about their memories of him... had they called him recently? Had they written to him? Was he so jaded by Hollywood and the obvious show it puts on that he didn't feel any of them were open or trusting enough for him to say "Please help me through this?"
No one will ever know what caused him to pull that belt around his neck and slash his wrists. I never would have met him or been a friend to him. But if I had I would have hugged him. I would have sat with him and feed him M&M's until the darkness passed, I would have called 911 for him and never judged how bad he must have felt about his life, his past, his future... I probably would have told him that I loved him dearly, that his movies were where I went when I needed a splash of inspiration to get through another dark day.
A part of me will always question what is that final straw that breaks the back of someone who lives in those dark places. I fear for the people around me that I know personally sometimes live in those dark places. I am scared for friends of mine that sometimes get to the point where the fog is crawling in on them and they feel they have no other choice... none of them have committed suicide... yet. They've always crawled out of the dark place. I hope they realize to call me if that place gets that bad. I hope they have my number somewhere so that I can sit and hug them until the dark place goes light again.  
I don’t know that it’s that simple, I realize it’s not. BUT—if you are consumed by that darkness, that feeling that death is your only option, reach out. I AM HERE FOR YOU! I will not judge you and chances are neither will the people that love you. You are never as alone as you think.

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