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Life and Death.

11 August 2014

I found out Robin Williams was sober when I found out he killed himself. Another incandescent talent. Another squalid death. Another public face on this disease I have, ironworked in choking little spirals around the columns of my own self.

I am Robin Williams. I have gifts and talents. I have a life to share and a work to do here in this place. I love people, and people love me. I am stupid and silly and passionate and cowardly and angry and I have so much inside sometimes I burst at the hope of telling it all.

I am an alcoholic. I nearly died a drunk. I wasted a decade. I shuddered at the light and recoiled into the dark so that none of you could see my shame. I drank until I couldn’t drink anymore, and I didn’t care if I lived or I died. I drank in the dark, because the light let me see myself.

And like Robin Williams must have, I finally found myself at that place where I was defeated. And like Robin Williams must have, I turned into the light of surrender and found that millions of us have ascended from the graves we dig for ourselves in the darkness. And like Robin Williams did for so long, I no longer drink, and I work my program, and I share my story so that you can come get what I have.

After twenty years, Robin Williams drank again. He tried again to recapture his sobriety. And in the end, he decided death was preferable to the cell he found himself in. I know Robin Williams. I’ve known too many suicides. We die. By the thousands and in dark, lonely places, all over the world, we die.

I am Robin Williams. I am powerless over this disease. I understand that coffin’s luster. I don’t know that I could return from relapse and desolation back into this green, gold landscape that I have been set on by powers beyond me, communities stronger than me, love more powerful than me. I can’t know that I will never drink again. I can’t know that suicide won’t ever be the best option I have left.

Today I am sober. Today I am alive. Today, I am fucking angry at another fine man laid in earth or burnt in a box because of this same wretched affliction that I have written on my soul. Today, it wasn’t me.

I am in great middle of my life. While I live, while I’m sober, while I breathe clear air, I stand humbled by the men and women around me who cannot attain or cannot keep what I have. And I don’t know where I will stand at the end of my life. Among those sober? Among the silent dead, lost? I cannot know.

I am Robin Williams. But I don’t have to die like he did. Today, I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, I walk among the living, rather than hanging among the dead.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 August 2014 20:54

    We don’t know much about his death yet (and I’m not sure we ever ought to) but it seems a distinct possibility that he died sober. It might have been his lifelong depression that killed him. Who can even distinguish between depression and addiction, when it comes to the decision to die? I’m sure he couldn’t. I’m so sad, and so sorry. What a damn shame.

    • 11 August 2014 21:26

      Yes, we don’t know if he was intoxicated when he died, and it doesn’t really matter. It was a suicide in the presence of depression and addiction. And it is an awful thing.

  2. 12 August 2014 02:58

    Well said… and now the excuse I made for missing a meeting yesterday lies heavy in my heart… I know how I’ve got and stayed sober, sad that the death of a rare talent is needed to remind me. But like you in the sadness at the news is a twisted euphoria that today it wasn’t me.

  3. Syd permalink
    14 August 2014 00:11

    Such a tragic ending, but too many have mental illness and use alcohol to self-medicate. I hope that he was sober, but I don’t know that it really matters. When people have loss of hope and go so far down a dark hole that there is no return, then who’s to say that death isn’t better than living. I haven’t been so far down that road that there was no return, but I know several who have. Their deaths still make me sad.

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