I'm feeling angry this morning. So beware, if you have a desire to condemn me in the comments section, because this morning I might just damn well bite back.
Such a massive amount of grief porn in my social media feed yesterday, one thing after the other. I was really saddened to hear that Robin Williams gave in to the whisper. I get those whispers. I've had them often in the last decade.
You know what? There was a part of me yesterday that was jealous of Robin Williams because for him it's over. The battle is over. It's not the life that people who feel suicidal want to be over. It's the constant battle, wearing you down. It's the constant battle that gets in the way of being able to live life.
And so with these outpourings of grief yesterday, on the one hand I got it, but on the other it creeped me out and even angered me a little.
What gets me about article after article about poor Robin Williams is
that nobody was thinking about him last week. This is where this feels
creepy to me. This giant outpouring of grief isn't about Robin Williams
the man, I don't think. It's about how as a celebrity he is representational. He is someone safely enough away from us that he is able to become a safe container in which to
pour the massive amounts of grief we carry in our own life.
Sometimes, we can't see our own pain until situations like these.
If we weren't a culture in tatters, we would have, like all good cultures do, dances and stories and embodied ways of helping us navigate through life. But we are at the end of one thing and the beginning of another, and so stuff lies in tatters. We don't have a public square anymore. Somehow, we have allowed our
culture to be taken over and turned into a giant warehouse for our
stomachs that actually really only benefits a small group of people. So what better stand-in than celebrities, right? Robin
Williams has become our stand-in, an
icon. What better symbol of our own hidden pain than the guy who many
still can't quite believe could battle such dark demons rearing out of
the shadows when he was so good at making us laugh. As if every single person on the planet isn't so multi-faceted.
How about the people in our midst who are suffering as much as Robin Williams? I used to talk daily with one who suffered like him. She made the most awesome art. Beautiful, intricate drawings that she would sell to the very, very few who walked past her on the street and actually saw her every single fucking day. I am drawn to the weak ones, because I feel so fucking weak myself, and so I did stop. We'd talk to each other every day. Because I felt so weak, she was actually the safest person on the street to talk to. She felt so much more human than the suits going to work at the bank, believe me.
Most people who are struggling like Robin Williams probably don't have the creative platform that he did to be able to demonstrate that they have valuables hidden in the folds of their jackets just because they're struggling with depression, or anxiety, or some other mental illness. They're probably the same people we generally ignore unless we're forced to have to deal with them, or that we despise on some level because we sense their pain and it triggers our fear. Because fuck me if we aren't stuffed up to the brim with fear. Or we've tried to help them and they didn't respond in the way we expected and now we feel rejected.
Maybe some of the grief that we are pouring into the safe container that Robin Williams represents is about that as well. Maybe we're grieving for ourselves, too, for what we have lost and what we don't even know we have lost.