The Man Behind the Mask

MaskBy Judy Talbert

The death of Robin Williams hit me hard. I was surprised by the impact and it left me wondering why. Why did he do it? Why was I so affected?

His brilliance was without question. I remember Mork and Mindy so well. He made me laugh with abandon at a time in my life when laughter was so needed. Several of his movies are ones I re­-watch when I need a guaranteed emotional pick-me-up. I loved his serious movies and along with millions of others, I loved his stand­up routines. But the question still remains why did his death hit me ­ and so many others ­ so hard?

Upon reflection, I think for me it was because underneath the brilliance was this sense of his desire to please. He put so much of himself out into the world in such an unguarded way. He really wanted to make you laugh.

It wasn’t till his death that I realized it was more than comedic brilliance that drew me to him. I was connected to some essential part of his humanity. I know that desire to make people laugh, to make them feel good and in return be approved of and maybe even loved by them. I think this is why I connected so strongly with him. Under all the wonderful humor, it is that unhealed part of us wanting love and acceptance that somehow made me feel connected to Robin Williams.

I recently read something about him in the Rolling Stone magazine that drew my attention and made me even more grateful to have Pathwork principles in my life.

The article stated, “Underneath it was as if he always felt he wasn’t worthy enough. It was almost like a big secret that they’re going to find out one day: “They’re gonna find out I’m really not that good and not that talented. Man, Have I fooled everybody.” The article went on to say, “To be that guy, to always be on … must have been exhausting.” “He was an incredible hider … It was defer, deflect and go back to making people laugh.”

If these statements are true, then he must have had a very strong Idealized Self Image. At least part of his ISI was that of a man who needed to make people laugh. After reading the article, it sounds like in most situations he was fearful of just being himself. He needed to be ‘on’ with most people.

We in Pathwork know we ALL have a Lower Self that we have tried to hide most of our lives. It has been an incredible relief to me to admit that I do have this Lower Self that can be embarrassingly small, ugly and disgusting. It has been quite comforting to learn that is not all of who I am. We each have our Higher Self within us to help guide us into a more healed and light­-filled life. As we are able to bring more and more of our Lower Self out into the open, we are healed. We then have more access to the Higher Self and our creative intuition.

I am saddened by the loss and the realization that Robin Williams must have suffered so greatly. Why did he take his life? Certainly fighting depression and addiction is no small matter. And when a person is finally diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease there is already considerable damage that has occurred within the brain. The knowledge of the physical symptoms to come combined with the substantial depletion of dopamine in the brain could be a big part of what brought him to his decision to commit suicide.

But, maybe things would have been different had he more understanding that we are so much more than our Mask, ­ that person we strive to show the world. It really isn’t only the Lower Self behind our Mask. Maybe had he experienced connecting with the wiser, more peaceful center of himself, his life may have ended differently.

Of course, this is all conjecture on my part. However, the one thing I do know is in Pathwork we have a clear method of finding what lies beneath our ISI and our Lower Self. Doing the work that is needed to live more fully from our Higher Self brings a richer, fuller, deeper life for those who continue on the path. What a wonderful realization with which to live!

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