When Robin Williams first came through, before he said a word, I knew he needed healing. He had a deep sadness and anguish about him, and he needed a compassionate witness and a place to take his pain.
When he started talking, he spoke of the two sides of him and feeling like he had nowhere to take the darkness, nowhere that was safe. So he shoved it down as we all learn to do, and he pushed so hard into the other side that it became frenetic. Obsessive. But it got results, so he played to that throughout his life.
I ask him about reports that said he had a brain disease that was uncovered in an autopsy after his death. I asked if that was what drove him to suicide, as many people believe, or if my sense upon reading the report was true — that he had always had this oppressive sadness, but it accumulated to the point that he could no longer cope later in life. I want to know his truth.
ROBIN WILLIAMS CHANNELED BY GIA PRISM:
“The disease was real, the autopsy was real, but that’s not the whole story," Robin says.
"People cling to it, they need it to be true, that I simply lost my mind at the end of my life. They need to believe this because it protects their belief in who I was. They need me to be their funny man, they need me to be who they connected with through my movies. Because if it turns out I wasn’t, it shakes their reality too much. They want and need to believe that someone out there could really be this zany and joyful and kooky 24/7, because then they can hold out hope that the world isn’t a terrible place, and that there’s joy out there if they can just crack the code.
"But the truth is there is darkness in everyone. I pushed it away by flinging myself into the crazy. But it didn’t go away, I just didn’t let you see it."
“People want to look around and say ‘this is who he was’ about everyone. We want the narrative, and we want it to be sunny. But what’s the good in that? What’s the use? What can I use from that story to walk me out of my terrors? I’m sorry if I perpetuated that, because really it isn’t helpful. We need real stories. We need real truth. That darkness is in all of us. We need people to tell those stories too, so we can see ourselves in them and know there’s a way out.
“I didn’t know what to do," he says, as I feel his overwhelming sense of helplessness. "So I just kept doing the thing that got me the praise. The plight of the ignored child, you know? Perpetually the class clown who performs for all the laughs. It was good, it really was. But it only allowed me to be half a person. Only the guy who brought the funny.
“So what to do with this other side of me? I don’t know, just shove it away, shove it away, shove it away. More funny, more laughs, more Oscars. Then some serious roles, darker ones, but it didn’t work. Not really. No one could bear to see that side of me. I couldn’t bear to see that side of me. But it kept coming out and I just didn’t know what to do with it.
"When you live your life on stage and the only way you know how to be is through performance, what do you do with the half of you that doesn’t want to be seen?"
Robin shows me that this is why he played so many "Dad" roles: He was trying to fill a hole. Trying to bring more "realness." Because of this, much of his legacy is as the on-screen dad to so many kids in the ‘90s and beyond who grew up with Robin in films like "Jumanji," "Mr.s Doubtfire," and "Hook."
“And I’m proud of that, I really am," he says. "It did so much more good in the world than Mork ever did. But it wasn’t enough.”
As he continues to speak, I'm flooded with immense feelings of sadness and hopelessness, as if it's pulling at my insides and drowning me. I know that these emotions are his still, a part of his spirit that he doesn’t know what to do with.
So I ask him: “Robin, what do you want to do with this?”
“I want to let people know that this is real," he says. "Both sides, all sides. It’s real and it should be on stage too. Not to glorify it, but to allow us to be all of who we are.”
I ask if he wants to heal it, and I offer to hold a session with him to do just that. To this he replies, “I will, thank you, but not today. I need to speak through it.”
I wind down the session by asking Robin for advice on what we can learn from this, or what it would look like to him to be able to integrate your light and your darkness while living in the spotlight.
He says he just shoved the darkness away, and emphatically states, “Don’t do it. At all costs, don’t be who they want you to be. Just be who you are and fuck em.”
“You get to have a life too; you deserve that," he says. "We all deserve that. Fame isn’t worth it.”
-Robin Williams channeled by Gia Prism