Thursday, August 21, 2014

Goodbye Robin

I love Robin Williams.  I had the opportunity to see him do stand up comedy twice.  I listen to his CDs routinely and they make me laugh every time.  This past weekend, my wife and I had our own Robin Williams movie marathon.  We laughed and cried.  
Comedy is a very special art.  Some comedy works for some people, other people laugh at a different venue of jokes.  I believe this is because when comedy works, it speaks truth.  We identify with the jokes and we laugh at ourselves.  Each of us laughs at something different, because we all have unique experiences that we can identify with.
I learned from Robin Williams.  I learned about life, I learned about parenting, politics, sports and most of all addiction.  I quote Robin Williams in my practice as a psychotherapist.  He looked at life and could see it.  I often use his line about ‘functioning alcoholics.’  He said, “Isn’t that like being a paraplegic pole dancer?  You just aren’t as good as the rest.”  I remember when he was asked about what helped him give up drugs.  His answer was, “Zak.”  Zak was his first child.  I knew exactly what he meant.  I stopped smoking marijuana after my daughter was born.  I couldn’t figure out how to tell her not to do drugs if I was doing them.  So I quit.  When Robin said “Zak,” I knew just what he meant.  
But he relapsed.  He relapsed again and again.  Finally, his depression was so painful that he needed the ultimate escape.  I’m angry at him for leaving us and I will miss his wisdom.  
In my office people ask me to explain what happened.  How could a man so cherished and loved, who had everything kill himself?  I wasn’t there that night.  Robin is the only one who knows what he was thinking.  But let me suggest the following.
I saw Robin Williams on stage.   He would just go and go and go.  For over two hours in front of a live audience he was manic.  He was totally wired up and crazy.  We loved him for it.  We demanded that he be crazy for us.  He met our need.  Night after night, show after show, he would allow his manic, crazy personality out of the box for us.  Then I wondered what it was like at 2 in the morning, when the crowd had gone home and his adrenalin was all gone and he was depleted.  You have to pay for that kind of energy output.  When you expend that kind of energy, you get empty, and you have to recharge.  Those times are very sad, you don’t feel loved or powerful.  You feel alone.  
I’ve seen many people who learn to temper both the manic times and the depressed times.  They didn’t have millions of people demanding that they be crazy.  Robin did it for us, for the love we gave him.  Despite my sadness and anger over losing him, in the end I thank him for his sacrifice.