I, along with the vast majority of human beings currently living on the planet earth, are incredibly saddened by the news of the death of several high profile “stars” over the past year. Kate Spade’s suicide marks one of the most recent of those tragic deaths. A death that was premature. Unexplainable, to those of us watching from the outside. “Senseless,” we call it. Some are using it as a lesson; “money can’t buy happiness!” Some of my friends even said it was selfish. A few are actually angry with her. 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. Something they simply can’t comprehend.
Sometimes the pain wins.
Until you have experienced that kind of intense, destructive, unrelenting pain in your soul, you probably can’t understand. But I’m know it’s true. The agony and isolation can take you down and knock you out of the game permanently. Depression doesn’t fight fair. And its goal is to destroy you. Simple as that.
Depression is ugly and because it’s ugly, a lot of people won’t even glance in your direction when you are struggling. That is part of the reason pain wins. Ignorance. Rejection. Being judged as unacceptable. A downer. Troublesome. A burden. When we’re not “together,” we’re required to wear a mask and pretend as if we are. And it’s lonely behind the facade.
When others see you as a burden, it’s unbearably 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 becomes overwhelming and shattering because there is absolutely nothing or no one to hold on to or to grab. All strength and the will to fight is annihilated. Nothing seems worth it, especially not you…your life. You realize you are asking too much from the world when you ask to be wanted. You’re more trouble than you are worth. A toxic substance in the life of everyone you touch. And you just can’t stand to contaminate the world or live such an empty existence one second longer.
At this point, the emotional pain becomes excruciatingly physical. Your heart feels as if it will explode. As if it is being ripped apart from the inside out. Your mind stops functioning and the wiring in your brain smokes and fries. You try; still you try. But that kind of rending, tearing, shredding, utterly consuming pain is more than most mortals can handle alone. And when you have been marked by the significant fracture it causes in your soul, you simply don’t stand a chance. You are hardwired to self-destruct in times of such consuming emptiness and overload. You don’t have the skills or the connections that are needed to survive.
And let’s 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. Only the good stuff, even if you have to make it up. 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. Nonconformance will cause you to be labeled as defective. Deplorable. A plague! You will be judged and found worthless. People will turn away and 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 have to play the game or you’ll become a total outcast. You can’t be honest about who you are, what you are dealing with or where you have come from or you will find yourself wholly alone. Without even the most shallow of connections. Lacking any form of companionship.
In those times of darkness when your own soul is gashing you to pieces, you need someone to tell you that you have value. Even more, you need them to show you. To be there. To help you find your way. To invest in you…time, heart, connection. To believe you are worth the trouble. You need something solid to stand on. So you can rest and stop struggling for just a moment so you can 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 scorned. But real, honest, vulnerable…these are the only things 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 Kate Spade was in that place. That place of grasping for a hand in the darkness and coming up empty. That place of desperately seeking a hint of light in the black, dense fog that obscured anything and everything worthwhile in the world. Of not being able to see even a pin prick of light to guide her through. It breaks my heart that, when she gave up because she simply couldn’t walk one…more…step, there was no one there to catch her when she let go. No one to reach her when she began to fall that one last time.
She needed real. Something solid; someone to tell her she was worth it. That she could make it and they would help her through. But when she reached out her hand, for whatever reasons, it came back empty. And the pain won.
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 a journey to the place where we share our hearts…good, bad, ugly, dark, broken, confused. 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 Kate’s world now. Nothing can help her to find a reason to hang on. To live. Nothing can help her to see how wonderful and specials she was. And how valuable. The door is closed. She closed it, alone in the night of her soul. I am saddened that this woman who brought so much happiness to the lives of others through her many creations ran out of joy. I’m upset that she found herself alone in the darkness at the time of her 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 she 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.
I hope we will not continue to be lulled into complacency, believing things will turn out okay in the end. Because sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the pain wins. And when the pain wins, the winner takes all.