Life and Death.
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.