In Memoriam:

I have been thinking a lot about Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. They were beautiful souls and spirits who overcame huge personal challenges, including the ones that eventually took them down. A dear friend of mine was once gripped by such a deep depression (which she dubbed “The Great Unpleasantness”), that it began to surround everything else in her life. But gratefully, she found her way out to safety. Williams' and Hoffman’s deaths by their own hands frightened her. And she was not alone. I felt a great shot to my own beliefs as CNN flashed its BREAKING NEWS logo and made the announcement about Williams’ suicide. I had barely come to terms with Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death in February. Like Hoffman and Williams, I am an alcoholic/addict and have been periodically depressed, but before their suicides I had been thinking (even though I really do know better), “I am a happy woman, and I have 22 years of sobriety, so what could go wrong?” But Hoffman, who I saw around my old neighborhood, and occasionally at meetings, had 18 years of sobriety before he overdosed. When I heard that Williams had been sober for 20 years, I suddenly felt (and continue to feel) vulnerable and, like my friend, no longer safe. Ultimately, though, it’s a good wake-up call. One of the things I want to take away from the death of these two great talents is that I cannot take my safety or sobriety for granted. I remember saying to my sponsor about two months after I stopped drinking and drugging, “No wonder I drank! Why would anybody want to feel like this?” But, eventually I discovered how grateful I was to experience a full range of emotions, even sadness, anger, and grief, because letting myself go through them, rather than wrestle with them or drown in them, I was (and, thankfully, still am) also able to experience crazy joy and long delicious stretches of peace. I wish the same for you.

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