For anyone out there who sees this and says, “Oh Christ, not another self indulgent blog about Robin Williams dying,” fuck you and go read something else. This is MY space and I can use my little piece of the internet any way I want.
On the off chance that any member of Robin’s family should read this, you have my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies. I never met your father, husband, friend, but I wanted to. I wanted to connect with the warmth and sweetness that lay within him, to find a non-cliched and meaningful way to tell him how much he and his work meant to me, just like millions of other people sitting around this morning staring at a TV or their computer and just blinking because they’ve been dealt an emotional gut punch.
We loved him, too.
The nature of Mr. Williams’ passing has naturally stoked the social media engine. It seems obscene to see “trending” next to stories and comments about him on the Facebook news feed, but then, algorithms are soulless creations. It’s as if they’re encouraging us to be thanatopsical voyeurs, to soak up all the morbid and sordid content we can hold. The Grim Reaper’s Hometown Buffett, as it were.
Part of the the feast are the comments (including some being aired on news programs) about how suicides are “selfish” and “cowards” for taking their own lives and leaving behind people to deal with their grief.
Really? Allow me to rebut from personal experience.
2014 has been the toughest year of my life. In January, I had no job, no money, a hostile roommate who was threatening to throw me out (but keep my bed because she saw some value in it), and no prospects for improvement. My mother had died in September. My immediate family didn’t tell me what was going in (she had liver cancer), didn’t tell me when she died (one of my cousins did that), didn’t tell me when and where the memorial was, didn’t even ask me if I wanted the goddamn pictures of me from the house when they sold it (I did. Still do). I know better than to express interest in anything valuable where this group is concerned. For whatever reason I was completely, deliberately excluded from one of the milestone events of anyone’s life. And the fact that I’m talking about it now tells you how much it still gnaws at me.
I wanted to die. I wanted an end to my considerable pain.
Selfish? Wanting to end pain so bad (whether physical or emotional) so intense it makes life unbearable isn’t selfish. If the sufferer was in the end stages of cancer and took steps to end things, the same people condemning Mr. Williams would be saying things like “He’s out of his pain now.” You can’t always see the effects of emotional pain, but I assure you, they are no less serious than physical agony. I think that there’s an argument to be made for “everybody who has to deal with their grief” crowd being selfish. You want a suffering human being to remain in that state of acute misery so that YOU don’t have to confront pain and loss? Who the fuck are you? News flash: you are not the Center of the Universe and nobody is obliged to arrange his life to suit you and your opinions. However, the thought of giving ammunition to the hostile roommate and various others who would be more than happy to have yet something else on me to bitch about and add to their legend of martyrdom because they’re connected to Susan Thatcher gave me a reason to stay my hand. I have been an emotional trash can for years. Lotta shit got blamed on me, deserved or not.
As for cowardly, I completely disagree (Shep Smith over on Fox News said it). I could, in those pitch black hours, pray for God to take me (and I fucking did), but I lacked the nerve to actually take a proactive step. (I also lacked the means. I don’t believe in prescription meds, don’t own a gun, wasn’t about to open a vein and give the hostile roommate something to bitch about how I had messed up her house, etc.) As much as I love the friends who stepped up and talked me down from the ledge (almost literally), my hand was stayed in a large part because I could not bring myself to do it. This ties back to the “live life to please someone else.” You want to keep another being in intense pain and misery because you think it’s bad form to end it? See previous “who the fuck are you”?
Of all the things said in the last 24 hours, the one that is killing me (and making me cry. I’ll have to take out my contacts now) is the picture I’m using to close. Before I go: Look, you can talk to me if you want to talk. You can call 1-800-273-8255. That’s the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Whatever you do, I won’t judge. And neither should anyone else.