Heavy Heart

29 Jun

I was listening to Fresh Air on NPR this morning. Terry Gross was interviewing W. Kamau Bell, the comic who has that show on HBO and a stand up called Private School Negro coming out on Netflix. He talked about a lot of stuff, doing ancestry.com, his parents, who were never married, split when he was a baby and both reared him; his meeting with Anthony Bourdain and their few encounters, one of which was spent in Kenya drinking gin and tonics.

Bell was moved in many ways by Bourdain–that Bourdain had been so warm to him (a self-described “nobody”) and that Bourdain was known for “not suffering fools. “He either loved you or ignored you,” Bell said in the interview. He got choked up when he talked about Bourdain’s light and that Bell could discern light being turned on.  Gross asked him if he’d been surprised that Bourdain had killed himself; Bell thought for a moment and said he didn’t know him well enough to be able to comment, but that even with that light, he did sense that Bourdain possessed a heavy heart.

I was struck by this characterization. I didn’t know Bourdain at all, I didn’t even watch his show, but like so many I was so saddened by his death struck that it would plunge me into my own sad hell. My sense of Bourdain and Bell’s description of him bore out my instinct of him, my attraction–that he felt very deeply as I do.

It’s very uncomfortable to admit that I understand how ending one’s life could happen, how the scaffolding holding you up just wears down. I am not suicidal, however when I heard comments from people who say suicide is cowardly or selfish or “he had so much,” or “she was rich” as I heard people say about Kate Spade, my back goes up. No one and I mean no one knows how it feels under another person’s skin.  On top of Bourdain’s heaviness, all that traveling is exhausting and as many have said and lonely.

When my memoir, Welcome to My Breakdown came out a few years ago, where I wrote about my grief at losing my mom and my depression, many people who know me said to me they were shocked to learn that I had depressive episodes. One woman, a therapist friend of a friend said, “what do you have to be sad about?” She caught herself and mumbled something contrary. I didn’t get upset. I understood that she’d only seen my light. It appears I don’t produce enough dopamine, a recent gratefully received an explanation. But I think given who I am as a writer, an HSP, an empath, who possess a heavy heart, I would have suffered a little sadness around the edges anyway. I know I have to take care of myself: Rest, have some solitude, be with my kids and husband, spend time with friends who are real, loving, accepting of my faults and theirs. People who are willing to do the work on themselves, not just other people.

I was listening to the interview while walking my dog in the park. Oftentimes I walk with a group. Today I was alone and sometimes when my dog friends aren’t there I get a little sad. Today, I was happy to be able to listen without distraction.

I was glad to be able to turn over the phrase heavy heart and put it in the context on my own disposition. It made assuaged my understanding of why his death hit me so hard.

Bourdain, whose June 25th birthday is 12 days before mine.

He was creative, loving, honest, heavy-hearted, an HSP. He was one of us.







7 Responses to “Heavy Heart”

  1. blackgoddessdiva June 29, 2018 at 9:55 pm #

    Wow………simply wow…….

  2. Cathy Garrison June 30, 2018 at 12:00 pm #

    As always I am touched by your blog posts. This one in particular…I felt Anthony Bourdain was someone I would have enjoyed, (loved his show)had I met him and as such saddened by his death.
    Thank you for your candor, it’s refreshingly transparent and heartwarming.

  3. Peg Cafferty July 2, 2018 at 11:23 am #

    I love your voice. Thank you for your honesty, we all have dark moments and knowing ourselves well enough to climb out of them and towards the light is all we can do to move forward with self love. Self love is as important and any other kind of love. Thanks for the work you do looking inward and sharing outward.

    • Benilde Little July 2, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

      Hi Love!
      Thank you! Still trying to get funding for my PIWWW (previously incarcarted women’s writing workshop. I just this moment created the acronym). Haven’t let go of it, just needing to pace myself with all the others things going on. Hope you’re well. Let’s do another walk meeting.

  4. Willa Posey July 2, 2018 at 4:24 pm #

    I too felt great sadness when I learned that Anthony Bourdain had made the choice to release himself from the weight of his heavy heart. As you pointed out being sucidial is not a prerequisite for empathizing with a person who makes that choice. Both Anthony Bourdain’s and Kate Spade’s choices to release their spirits from the weight of this life was a wake up call and reminder to me to: 1) seek support when I need it, 2) make myself available for the beautiful souls in my life, especially those whose heaviness is great, and 3) cherish each moment I spend with people in my life, being fully present so there are no regrets and my loves know I am here listening and supporting and 4) the importance of self care is essential for me as an HSP, empath, and nurturer.

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