I, along with the vast majority of human beings currently living on the planet earth, are incredibly saddened by the news of Robin Williams death at age 63. A death that was premature. Unnecessary, to those of us watching from the outside. “Senseless,” we call it. Some are shouting it as a lesson; “money can’t buy happiness!” Some of my friends even said it was selfish. A few are actually angry with him. But I can’t go there with them. Not to the place of being angry or judging or moralizing. Because I know something they don’t understand. Sometimes the pain wins.
Until you have had that kind of intense, destructive, unrelenting pain in your soul, you probably can’t understand this. Not really. But I’m telling you, it’s true. Depression is ugly and because it’s ugly, a lot of people won’t even glance in your direction when you are suffering with it. And that is part of the reason pain wins. Ignorance. Rejection. Being judged as unacceptable. A downer. Being troublesome. A burden.
When others see you as a burden, it’s horribly hurtful. When you can only see yourself as a burden, a negative in the universe, pain will use this advantage, this crack in your armor, and it will take you down. It will take you out with one huge knock-out punch. It will win.
This is the place where hope breathes its last breath. The place where the aloneness and emptiness is overwhelming and destructive because there is absolutely nothing or no one to hold on to or grab. All strength and the will to fight is gone. Nothing seems worth it, especially not you. You realize you are asking too much, are more trouble than you are worth, are a toxic substance in the life of everyone you touch and you just can’t stand being like that one second longer.
At this point, the emotional pain becomes physical. Your heart threatens to explode. Your brain stops functioning and your wiring is smoking and frying. You try; still you try. But that kind of rending, tearing, ripping, completely consuming pain is more than most mortals can handle alone. And when you have a fracture in your soul, you simply don’t stand a chance. You are hardwired to self-destruct in times of overload. You don’t have the skills or the connections that are needed to survive.
And lets face it; we live in a world of superficiality. Your aren’t supposed to be real. To “over-share”. Which means, you aren’t supposed to share at all except in very limited doses in very specific circumstances. You aren’t allowed to be vulnerable, to talk about weaknesses, issues, struggles, destructive thoughts, hurts. You are not allowed to have dark and difficult times emotionally. None of that is acceptable. You’re supposed to be upbeat and positive and see that damned glass as being half full even when the sucker is bone dry empty. Smile! Look for the silver lining! Don’t share your heart. Whatever you do, don’t be real, don’t be weak, don’t fail, don’t cry, don’t tell, don’t acknowledge the ugly darkness that is destroying you. You will be seen as defective and deplorable if you do. A plague! And you will be judged and found worthless. People will run in the other direction when they see you coming.
You can’t be real on Facebook and you can’t be real in church. You can’t be real with your friends or they’ll stop being your friends. You can’t be honest about who you are, what you are dealing with or what you are or you will find yourself utterly alone. Without even shallow connections and companionship.
In those times of darkness when your own soul is ripping you to shreds, you need someone to tell you that you have value. But not just to tell you. You need them to show you. To be there. To help you find your way. To invest in you…time, resources, heart, connection. You need something solid to stand on. So you can rest and stop struggling for a while and get your strength back. You need real. And real…well, real is hard to come by. Real is rare.
In fact, being real is discouraged. It’s ridiculed. It’s rejected. But real is the only thing that will pull a person through. And if you don’t get real, that’s when the pain wins. And when it wins, it wins for keeps.
I am saddened that Robin Williams was in that place. That place of grasping for a hand in the darkness and coming up empty. That place of desperately seeking even a hint of light in the black, dense fog that obscured anything and everything worthwhile in the world and not being able to see even a pin prick of light to guide him out. It breaks my heart that, when he gave up because he simply couldn’t walk one…more…step, there was no one there to catch him when he let go. No one to reach him when he began to fall that one last time. He needed real. Something solid; someone to cling to. But when he reached, his hand, for whatever reasons, came back empty.
I pray that this tragedy will cause others to break through the facades we spin for ourselves, to rip off the masks and to start that journey to the place where we share our hearts…good, bad, ugly. Where we embrace, encourage, accept instead of ridicule, reject, disavow. Where we love instead of judge. Where we offer a hand instead of a fist. Where we share the pain until the darkness recedes.
Nothing can fix Robin’s world now. Nothing can help him to find a reason to live. Nothing can help him to see how wonderful and special he was. And how valuable. The door is closed. He closed it, alone in the night of his soul. I am saddened that this man who brought so much laughter to the lives of others ran out of joy. I’m broken that he found himself alone in the darkness at the time of his greatest need. I hate it that this wondrous, unique, creative, beautiful individual couldn’t find a reason to hang on and couldn’t find anyone or anything to hang on to when he needed help the most. It should never happen. To me, this is our ultimate failure. The pain should never win. But it does. As it did here. And we are all diminished because of the loss of another special individual who should have never had to know what it is like to be that horribly alone and without hope. Depression colors and clouds our perspective. We need the eyes of another, their hand to hold, their arms around us, their heart beating with ours to survive those times. We need intense intervention. Someone has to carry us when we are that lost. And when this doesn’t happen, when we reach out, desperately grasping and find nothing but empty air, the pain wins. There are no second chances.
Heed the warning. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be lulled into complacency, believing things will turn out okay in the end. Because sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the pain wins. And the winner takes all.