Robin Williams. Dad. Life.
Three years ago, we lost a brother. A spectacular human who made us laugh as often as he made us cry. A man who had us asking deep questions while we challenged our beliefs. A human who made us feel more…human. Robin Williams was larger than life. And maybe that’s what happened. Maybe he no longer fit inside his body. Maybe his body grew too small to house everything that he was, and he needed to escape its confines to be free. Maybe. Or maybe his demons battled so relentlessly inside of him that he grew exhausted trying to stop the fight. Maybe.
The thing is, we will never know what Robin was going through because even those closest to him didn’t fully understand the depth of his pain. Because he kept so much of it inside.
But, God, I miss this man. And in this video, Robin reminds me what life is, truly, all about. How we are, really, supposed to live.
As the daughter of a father who battled depression for many years, it haunts me to think of the demons Robin fought for so much of his life. I wonder what difference it could have made to him to be able to share his struggle more openly. I wonder the same for my dad.
This past weekend, my partner Roger and I were having coffee at one of our favourite cafés. The last time we were there, one of the baristas we have gotten to know a little bit had alluded to not feeling well for a while. I had asked if she wanted to share. She said, “Not now”. But this weekend, when she finished her shift, she came over and casually started talking with us. After a few minutes, I asked how she was feeling and she said, “Much better.” I asked if she wanted to talk, and this time, she did.
She started slowly. Quietly. In a shaky voice, she confided that she has been battling anxiety and depression since she was a little girl. She paused as if waiting to gauge my response. I nodded and gave her a knowing smile, encouraging her to continue. She wiped the sweat from her upper lip, took a breath, and kept going. She shared that she has a family history of mental illness and that she has been in and out of hospitals since she was 10. She has been able to work through so much, and with this most recent episode, she was able to remind herself that she wouldn’t always be in the dark; the lightness would come and she knew from experience that she’d just have to be patient — with time and with herself.
I was impressed with this young girl. Proud of her for doing so much to improve her mental health; things like meditation, diet, exercise, mindfulness, psychotherapy and also medication.
During the conversation, I was able to share with her that I am in recovery. When she asked why I quit drinking, my knee-jerk reaction was to say, simply, “I just knew my life was in chaos and I had to change or die”, a line I had used countless times when someone asked me why I didn’t drink. Instead, I was more open. I told her about my rock bottom; my most shameful story. And I did it matter-of-factly; in a way I couldn’t have imagined telling it even just a year ago.
You see, sharing my story has freed me in ways that feel hard to describe. Being able to tell that story like I am talking about the weather has taken all the power away from it and placed it right back into my capable hands — hands that are now able to serve others and allow them to share more of their story. And so that’s how I spent the afternoon; in a beautiful dance, waltzing back and forth, sharing our stories, our strategies, our tools, our triumphs and our challenges.
It was a beautiful experience and I was reminded that without my writing — and my healing through it — I wouldn’t have enjoyed that sacred exchange. I would have missed out on something truly profound. And I would have missed an opportunity to help another human know that they are not alone.
That is what writing has done for me. It has healed me and allowed me to help others in the process.
When I watch that video, listening to Robin’s words, I realize that living a “spectacular” life doesn’t have to mean living a “big” life. It means getting excited about the life we are living; knowing we are achieving things we set out to achieve and doing whatever we can to help others achieve their dreams. Living a spectacular life means enjoying the process of life; not just the outcome.
The sooner I realized my life wasn’t going to be handled by anyone else, the sooner I got to work figuring out what I was here to do.
The sooner I took responsibility for every aspect of my life, the sooner I could stop blaming the world or other people for everything I didn’t like about it.
The sooner I started to share my story with others, the sooner I was able to develop authentic relationships and enjoy more purpose and passion in my life.
My life becomes more spectacular with every new connection I make.
I want the same for you.
If you want to heal yourself of past or current pain, then I encourage you to write. Grab a journal and allow the pen to flow. Releasing your feelings to the page is cathartic, and allowing your inner world to come out is freeing.
And I want you to experience that freedom.
Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.
P.S. Are you in recovery from something (depression, cancer, divorce, addiction, PTSD, etc.) and have a desire to write about your experience? On September 9th and 10th, 2017, Roger and I are launching our online Writer’s Retreat that will teach you how to write your story–from start to finish–and self-publish your book, the way I did, in order to heal yourself and help others. If this speaks to you, then send me an email at Sarah@SarahTalksFood.com and I will be in touch with more details.
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