The reason Robin Williams’ death (See video here) was so hard for me was because it was all too relatable. Without knowing any of his childhood history, I always felt a connection. I knew his public persona was this amazingly funny, warm and loving person. I didn’t know him, had no insights into his past, but I felt as though there was something missing that drove him to constantly be the most insanely funny person in the room. He needed something.
How could I possibly know this about a man I had never met? It was me. I saw myself in him. And it was painful to see.
I too felt starved. I’ve always felt alone. Most people don’t know this about me. I didn’t want them to.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had fun. There have been plenty of moments when I was able to forget my insecurities for an hour or so, but when friends and family went home, a great darkness crept in. The loneliness smothered me. Sometimes, I just crashed. What most people don’t know is that many times spent with friends was not so carefree and anxiety free. I was so self conscious. It required an immense amount of effort to try to appear normal. If any one thing was out of place, a pimple, if the shirt I was wearing made me look too fat, my hair, my eyebrows, my teeth…anything really, it would consume my mind, making each moment spent in another person’s presence excruciating.
One on one situations were the worst. I still struggle in one on one conversations. I can actually feel myself shutting down. I have a great difficulty even getting my thoughts out. And eye contact is next to impossible. I had to learn to develop a way of faking it. I needed to be busy. Then I had an excuse to look away. If I was unable to appear busy, I would concentrate on repeating a pattern of looking down or to the side and again making eye contact. I only hoped they wouldn’t notice. If I thought that they noticed, my stress would double or even triple. At times, I have actually had to abruptly end a conversation early because I was so overwhelmed.
Then there was other times when the conversation flowed effortlessly. It was like a light switch that I couldn’t always find. But when it was on, I didn’t want the conversation to end. I didn’t want to go back to how I felt before. So those times, when I could make someone laugh, were like a drug for me. But unfortunately that drug didn’t always work. There were too many variables. But get me in the right mood, at the right time, with the right people and I would almost explode with energy and personality.
There have only been a very few select people that I have ever been able to be myself around. If you are one of them, I’m not sure what set you apart. For whatever reason, there was something about you that I found comforting enough to make me relax.
That is anything but the norm. Deep within, no matter what anyone has told me to the contrary, I have always felt like I was not enough, as if I, like Robin Williams, had to be “me plus” to be accepted. I felt inferior and nothing anyone could say or do would change my mind. I couldn’t change it. It clung to me like a cancer. And it grew and grew. As soon as I found a way to deal with any one of my insecurities, another would fill the void. I felt powerless.
So God entered in and changed everything, right? No. In fact, becoming a believer brought along new insecurities. How could a Christian feel this way? I began comparing myself to other Christians. The more I did, the worse I felt. I doubted my salvation all the time. I wished I was never born. I felt as if everything I did was a failure. I was even convinced that no one would even care if I was gone. I felt so insignificant.
So, here is the part where I tell you how some life changing moment turned everything around and I am all better. *Poof* Insecurities gone. Loneliness gone. Anxiety gone. Sorry, but that isn’t the case. I have good days and bad days and really bad days.
But one thing has changed. My view of God. I am thoroughly convinced that He loves me. I don’t know why, but I know that I would not be here to post this without His love. I no longer feel like such a massive disappointment to God. I still struggle with how I feel others see me, but I know God loves me, right here where I am. He is breaking down walls in my life. He forcing me to face my fears. He is leading me out of my comfort zone. And He is walking each painful step with me.
I have not overcome. I am overcoming. I am learning to trust God with things, unimaginable just a few years ago. Some say God is a crutch. I say no. He is an electric wheelchair. I am paralyzed without Him. He is my everything. I can’t breathe without Him. I need Him every second of every day. He is my dad and He loves me, even when I can’t love myself.
If you don’t get that, I am not being condescending, but I truly feel sorry for you. God is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He has given me an amazingly understanding, encouraging and loving wife and four incredible children that I cannot imagine living without.
God has been an undescribable blessing to me. I only hope that you will let Him be the same for you.