Saturday, August 23, 2014

FREE WRITE exercise on ROBIN WILLIAMS exposes ME.


I joined a writers group - GRIND WRITERS.

Through this group I have learned how to FREE WRITE.

it is quite liberating

and very helpful if I’m feeling stuck with my writing.

Below is the free write photo prompt... 

and my piece for it.

It’s 647 words long. (about 3 1/2 minutes of reading)


This free write photo prompt came with the following questions:

Robin Williams' death: how has it affected you? 

What sort of issues has his suicide caused you to think about?


I remember exactly where I was sitting when I heard the news about Robin Williams. 

I had just toiled for six and a half hours helping my friend dig up the side of his house. He’s building a lane house out back of his existing house, and since he had given up his free time last summer to help me with my house renovations I wanted to be there for him.

Why is this info important? It isn’t, except to let you know life was still moving along after Robin’s death.

My first reaction to this news was NO WAY, not him. He’s too funny to kill himself. Why it is I thought funny equals happy I don’t know. 

In light of my own heaviness these last few months I wondered about funny and happy and laughter; words I would use to describe me under normal circumstances. 

But, I hadn’t been happy, funny, or even laughing lately, in fact I had been quite down.

When my friend’s wife told me this bit of news she’d gleaned earlier in the day, as Gerry and I were huffing and puffing under 30 degree heat, I got annoyed. And angry. And miffed. 

I’m a parent, so was Robin. How do you do this to your kids? What was so bad in his life that this was his only option  - I wanted answers damn it. From him. 

It took me a while before compassion and empathy sprang to the forefront.

For the following three days, after hearing this news at my friend’s house just prior to eating a much anticipated meal after a day of hard labour, I was quite blue. I didn’t initially attribute it to more than the Super Moon influence. (Yes, yes, I buy into all that - I’m Pisces and we are all about planetary alignment.)

But as the days drifted on, and I slowly found my inner smile, I realized his death hit me harder than I was consciously aware. I had been teetering on the very ledge he jumped from. 

In light of some overwhelming health news, back in March, and my sense of loneliness amongst friends and family, I can see how it could be, for some, the only option.

I’m not cut of that cloth,  and in all my fifty-six years on the planet taking my life has never been a pressing thought. Now, that being said, there are a few lives I’d like to see snuffed out, but mine is not one of them. 

I’m saddened, not because we lost a comic genius, or a great actor, but because no one could reach him, no one was there for him - and that is something I get; it’s something I totally relate to. 

At what point will my stoic veneer finally crack letting my soul slip away and my life spark flicker out in the soft evening wind. 

I wonder.

Do any of us really know what’s going on inside the head sitting, standing, lying next to us… well, do we? Maybe for a very select few the answer might be, “yes, I do know what’s going on around me”. 

But for the masses I would say we are no better then those ostriches with their collective heads in the sand - we really see only one life and that’s our own… how are you affecting me, how is the weather affecting me, how is my job affecting me…. me, me, me, me, me.  

Well, what about me… do you know anything about me?

Oh sure, my hair is blond, eyes blue, as you’ve vaguely observed. 

But what about behind the blue - look closely what do you see… do you see the wall I’ve built? The one that’s so high you will never get over it, nor will I be free from behind it. Do you see the decay, the neglect?

Well, do you?  (647 word count)


So now… the questions:




Cheers, Jenny

Footnote: for an overview of what "free writing" entails please read THIS


  1. I keep my inner thoughts hidden most of the time too. I'm a private person. At times, life can be hard. I feel like I got hit with a ton of bricks in July, and the weight hasn't really lifted. I usually write myself out of the down days, but this summer, writing and reading were hard to do. I'm back to it now in small portions. I spend a lot of time at the hospital with hubs.

    Suicide is sad, but like you said we don't know what else other people are carrying around on their shoulders, so I try not to judge.

    1. Hi DG - been thinking about you, but just giving you space. Coffee's on, just say the word.

      You sure have been hit with more than your share… I've been sending out my prayers to the Universe for "hubs" - hope he's improving.

      I guess all any of us can do is not judge… but first I think we need to reach out, so maybe we won't have anything to judge in the end.

      Thanks for stopping in… I'm sending cyber hugs your way.

  2. I am somewhat of an empath. I have yet to explore all that goes with it, but I do tend to feel and understand how others feel. Which is good at times, but really sucks at others. Because sometimes, I understand and yet it doesn't always matter why. Sometimes feeling someone else's feelings turns me into a basketcase that I have had to learn to shield myself.
    I know you have worked very hard taking care of everyone and had to do so much by yourself and that makes you strong.
    Life can be hard. But, not always.
    I don't know if suicide is a copout or a solution. I have gone through depression and I think my stubbornness is why I made it through. Some people just get so bad that they just can't see anything beyond themselves.

    1. I had to look up "empath" - I learned something today. See, it pays to get up and shake the dust off myself.

      I think it must be very frustrating to be overly in tune with other peoples feelings, particularly if you then get dragged down and they affect you in negative ways.

      I also think my stubbornness is a driving force, but I do agree with you, Ruth, for some people what they are going through, or dealing with, may be too much and suicide is all they can see as a solution. It's such a sad thought.

      Thanks for dropping in - I dropped in on you too, glad Yummy is up and running.

      With smiles attached… :) :)

  3. Hi Jenny - I'm thankful I don't have the blues ... having had it in the family and I think my mother had it before her stroke ... and other people very close to me have suffered and taken their lives ... I've sort of come to accept/understand ... but recently having had a friend who has had serious depression I've seen a different side from her viewpoint.

    I'm glad you're helping out Gerry with his work, seeing as he helped you so much last year ... but also good to know the free writing is making a difference ... cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary, Having the blues is definitely not something I would wish on anyone. I'm glad it is not something you've had to deal with personally though you've touched it at arms length with your mother and close friends.

      I've not had a problem with "being down" until this year… I'm hoping it's a one off type of thing and that it is only because so many things jumped at me and overwhelmed me last year and in the earlier part of this year.

      I'm feeling like the worst is over (I hope) and once the last bit of my house is done I hope to put this phase behind me.

      I'm lucky to have friends, both close and far (like you), to cheer me on and help me through the rough patches - Gerry is definitely one of those people.

      Thanks for stopping in - I sending smiles and hugs your way. :)

  4. Mrs Doubtfire was the first time I saw Robin Williams, and his passion for comedy translated well into his performance, which is what I kept seeing over the years. He often played an eccentric character and went into full on lawyer-mode defending the essence of comedy itself. I thought the typecasting was stifling at the time, but looking back it seems strangely appropriate.

    1. I think the characters he portrayed spoke to his inner conflicts. It's just sad that this was his only option, really, just so sad.

  5. Dear Jenny. It's been such a long time since I last communicated with you - my apologies for that. Apart from an incredible sense of sadness and that feeling of loss we experience when someone we know (or feel we know) is no longer with us - I also shuddered at the thought of the way in which some people would respond to Robin Williams' passing. As a 'lifer' when it comes to the personal experience with anxiety and depression - I have often expressed the impact of my journey this way - 'It's not that I want to die - it's just that I'm not enjoying the living part of it all that much'. Notwithstanding the reality that suicide is an unbelievably tragic and devastating outcome for those left behind - if I am honest I would have to admit to having a gut-level appreciation and an inexplicable empathy with those who have seen it as 'the something' they needed to do. For me, there is not a word in my vocabulary which can come close to expressing the emotions and thought processes which an individual may be experiencing at such a time. Although it possibly seems counter intuitive - my experience has been that because those near and dear to me have been incredibly supportive, encouraging, loving, etc - this has actually made me feel more guilty and ashamed of my inability to shrug off the shroud of anxiety/depression. I am convinced that there are many situations when it wouldn't matter how much compassion and concern and genuine attempts to understand the pain and desperation an individual may be experiencing - that person may still choose to take a course of action that simply makes the most sense within all of the turmoil and darkness they find themselves in. The older I become, the more I accept how much I don't know or understand, however, it is also becoming more apparent to me that having the answers is irrelevant if the associated questions are meaningless. In reference to your question, 'Well what about you know anything about me?' - I can only respond by saying I love what your words tell me about the person you are - they help me find my inner smile. My very best wishes always. Jeff

    1. I've missed you out here in Bloggerville, Jeff. I think of you in passing and am so glad you've popped by for a read and to leave this amazing comment.

      You hit on something in your writing - the guilt you feel because of "your inability to shrug off the shroud of anxiety/depression" - wow, that is so (I'm not really sure which word works best to say what I'm thinking) but "deep", "sad", "heartbreaking" are just a few.

      Though I have been "down" I can even come close to understanding what depression is - or like. I can only say it must be something so gripping and powerful that doing battle with it must be like going into a dark cave unarmed to face Satan himself. I can not fathom it. I truly can't…

      Thank you, Jeff - for sharing. I miss the flow of your words on your blog… it saddened me when I could not find where you had gone. Please stay in touch.

  6. I got a text message from my brother, "Looks like Robin Williams is gone." I couldn't believe it. Turned on CNN right away to see why and how this happened.
    A few days later I burst into tears during the noon news when they released the 'details'....superficial cutting on his left arm, belt around the neck, sitting position, etc....the reason for my tears was not sadness over Robin's fate, but for the similarities to my brother's suicide three years ago...Yes Robin's story is terribly sad, but I think this same story plays out in the general population more often than we know.
    As to your question, "Do any of us really know what’s going on inside the head sitting, standing, lying next to us… well, do we? Maybe for a very select few the answer might be, “yes, I do know what’s going on around me”....
    ...I don't think any of us can really know what's going on in anyone else's head, no matter how close we feel to that person. I for one, feel very uncomfortable if someone claims to know me so well that they know what I'm thinking. It makes me want immediate distance from that person.
    I think that knowing 'what's going on around me', is quite a different thing than knowing what's going on in someone else's head.
    As far as knowing about the 'decay and neglect' behind the wall you've built behind your blue eyes..(I love your use of language!)..of course people who don't know you, don't know anything about that...we can only assume that it is the same as the decay and neglect behind the walls we've all built, behind our blue, (or green or brown) eyes. Of course, some of us build higher, (or lower) walls than our neighbours, but a person with no walls behind their eyes is, I think, a rarity. My goal is to deconstruct my own walls so they are at a height I can easily hop over.
    Great, thought provoking piece!

    1. Eva, what a great comment - full of insight and feeling. You make an excellent point to my question - and I agree - we don't know, nor will we ever know what the person next to us is really thinking. Though, that should never stop us from trying to understand or be willing to reach out.

      As to the building of walls the only folks I think of as not having any would be devout Buddhists… those so removed from the material world and solely living in the spiritual one. Pure Land bliss.

      Thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts. :)

  7. Suicide is a solution to pain without purpose or end. Robin Williams must have been in a lot of pain to do what he did.

    1. Well said… one can only hope he's in a better place.

      Thanks for dropping by - love your handle! :)

    2. I have love handles.
      Does that count?

    3. :) :) It counts… you visiting counts too!

  8. I see suicide as a quick, easy cop out.
    Walk a mile in another man's (or woman's) shoes and I will look at things differently.
    I do wonder what kind of effect a suicide would have on a family member, though.
    Once again, no judging. Only "down on my knees" gratitude that I haven't ever been in that place.

    1. Well said, Al. I'm with you on the not judging - but in some ways I'm still thinking there has to be another option - and when family is left behind, particularly kids, it really gets to me. But… no judging, just sadness (which comes after the frustration of it all)


Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

I'd give you a penny for them, but alas we just snuffed it out. Yup...gone!
It's all about the nickel at this rate you can leave 5 thoughts!

Cheers, Jenny

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