It’s the ones you’d never expect.
I’ve never been as saddened by the death of someone I didn’t know as I have been with the death of Robin Williams. I’m still at a loss, but I know there are countless people searching for an answer, who knows if we will ever get one. I’ve had this browser window open since the nightthe news broke, trying to figure out how to help some people understand and look into the world of someone who is known for their positivity and sense of humor, but walks through life hiding all of their pain.
About Williams, I’ve seen people say:
"How can someone so happy and funny be depressed"
"suicide is the cowards way out."
"Why would you kill yourself when you’re so rich."
I see these comments and more, some full of ignorance and some combined with confusion how a person who brought the world so much joy could be so tortured inside to the point where the only way to get away, is to end it all.
I’ve never been in movies. I’m not a celebrity. I have just over 100 followers on tumblr, so I am by no means a high-profile individual- but the one thing I can say is that as long as I can remember, I have been able to make people laugh, take away their frowns and turn them into a smile. “You should go into stand up comedy” or “You should be a motivational speaker” is something I’ve heard more times than I can remember. One of those “if I had a nickel” situations. I’ve been that guy my entire life.
As long as I can remember being able to make people laugh, I’ve also remembered being unable to stop horribly depressing and scary thoughts to the point of wondering “what’s worse, being alive or dead?”. I remember laying next to my parent’s bed at a young age staring at my father’s shotgun, soon after my friend Hobie had committed suicide, wondering “why? why not?” and pondering what would happen if I tried the same thing. Someone so young and seemingly happy, gone in an instant. I thought “it can’t be that bad, maybe I’ll be happier there than here.”
I didn’t have a bad childhood, persay. Money wasn’t a luxury in my family, so I grew up with bad haircuts, ill-fitting clothes and cockroaches hopping out of my lunchbox at times, but my parents gave everything they could to make me happy. It was everything else that made me sad. For no explainable reason, I was always sad. I didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere, with anyone.
When I found laughter, I found solace. I remember making a bunch of friends laugh in middle school because for SOME god-forsaken reason I decided to let my mother dye my hair blonde…right before HANSON broke onto the scene. You can imagine my dismay when the names and insults came flying and all I could do was play it up. Laugh WITH everyone who as laughing at me to make them realize I was just like them. When I got home I would cry for hours. No one would see my pain, not even my family.
I’ve always used laughter and wit to hide the pain. The pain of losing my aunt Suzie. Never knowing my father. Being poor. Having my first dog die in my arms when no one was home. Coming home to my mother, who has suffered from a chemical imbalance since her teens, cut her hair off and broke out every window in our mobile home with the vacuum. Realizing years later, that one of your older friends was actually sexually molesting you, not just playing or rough housing..for YEARS. I didn’t know at the time and didn’t really realize the severity of what had happened. When I look back on it, I’m disgusted and I break down nearly every time it crosses my mind. It fills me with a fire so hot I want to explode. But I move on, I push on and tell myself “I didn’t know what was happening, it doesn’t matter.”
You live with these things. They can never truly go away. All you can ever to is move past them and keep your head up. I always found a way to make those smile around me, because it eased my pain. Laughter is contagious, it’s proven. I never new anything that made me feel less pain than knowing others were hurting less. I wasn’t scared anymore when others were laughing.
For a while around the age of 10 I believe, I would dress up as a clown and entertain the younger neighborhood kids at parties. I could hide behind the makeup, tell jokes, do magic tricks(thanks aunt Suzie), make balloon animals. I wasn’t me, I was someone else. Someone who everyone loved. Even the bigger kids in the neighborhood that would pick on me were laughing. They knew it was me, they had to…but I got away with murder making people laugh as a kid. All at the same time wondering what the world would be like without me, the laughter would fade and the misery would set in equally as fast.
The first time I saw Robin Williams, I was enthralled. I saw Hook at 8yrs old, I was captivated. I got it on VHS and wore out the tape. I wanted to be young forever, I would run around screaming “BANGARANG”, crowing into the night. I wanted to be a lost boy. Throughout my early teens I took in anything I could from him. He was always on. Everyone laughed when he was around. No one was ever sad when he was nearby. That’s what I needed to do and be. I wanted to take away other’s pain, almost as if to absorb it myself like Jon Coffey in The Green Mile. I never knew the weight it carried…but others happiness has always mattered so much more than my own. I never knew there was a soul as tortured as Robin Williams. It’s absolutely and completely soul-crushing.
I began getting tattoos at 18 to hide my body, which for reasons superficial or not, I hated. I continued in hopes to not see my old self. Once I got over that issue, I had the tattoos to remind me of how I used to be, which in turn causes that same hopelessness in self-image. The vicious cycle.
Some have written me off as a liar, fake, attention-seeker and what have you. I’ve done my best to keep a straight face as my name has been raked through the mud and I always to my best to crack a joke. If I haven’t made someone laugh in a day, my job isn’t done. It’s not me being fake, it’s me easing my pain and everyone elses…But at the end of day, it’s the same thing. Misery. Crippling, inexplicable misery. For as long as I remember I’ve tried to pinpoint it. I’ve stared at pill bottles belonging to friends and loved ones just wondering how much it would take to kill me. “What if I just stepped in front of this bus?”, or “I wonder if I could survive this fall” while staring over the side of a parking garage in Atlantic City.
I’ve felt deep-running rage, anger, frustration and confusion for years, but I’ve never been able to pinpoint where from. Every night in bed my mind races, my heart pumps so hard I can feel it trying to break free from my chest. Every single person I know starts saying terrible things about me when I leave the room, in my mind. I have no idea who I can trust and who I can’t, because when it comes down to it, everyone will betray you whether it be inconsequential or large-scale.
I’m a cynic. I’m scared. I’m angry.
I’m horrible on myself behind closed doors and I always have been.
I’m also the first person to make a joke and have an entire room cracking up, just so I can ease my own pain. If it ever gets better, it will be a scary, new world for me. Regardless, I hope it comes someday.
People like Robin Williams, people I embody, always looked up to, the ones who go out of their way every waking moment to be kind, humorous and take sadness away from others, are often the most tortured souls you never knew existed…until it’s too late. It never has to be too late.
If it wasn’t for my loved ones, I can’t say where I’d be or if I’d be here.
Every day is a blessing. Talk to someone. Talk to me. Even if you don’t know me. Even if you hate me or think I hate you, reach out. Find out where we stand, let’s move on and begin repairing your hurt.
This is me opening up to a degree no one has ever seen, simply in hopes that someone will read it and understand that as human beings, we are made to overcome nearly everything in our paths.
You can win. There’s always someone willing to help.
I can even still make balloon animals if needed on special occasions.
"The only real laughter comes from despair" - Groucho Marx