A friend of mine, Lindsay M. Hawley, passed away by choice on the first day of this year. January 1, 2017.
I haven’t been able to stop crying lately and today my thoughts were consumed by her. I have never lost a friend before, and have definitely never lost anyone to suicide. Sometimes writing helps me sort through my thoughts and feelings, so I wrote this. Maybe it will help just one person to read it as it helped me to write it.
It was a normal day, just like any other day.
I was in my standard seated position with my standard carry-on bag in a standard airport.
I took out my phone and glanced at my Facebook feed, expecting to mindlessly scroll for a few minutes through some combination of the usual: Corgi video, inspirational quote, baby picture, catchy clickbait article via George Takei.
Instead, my heart stopped.
I had to gasp for air because my body had suddenly forgotten how to breathe. Hands shaking like crazy, I searched for proof that what I was seeing wasn’t true.
“Rip sweet beautiful angel.”
“The few months we worked together has left a lifetime of impressions on me about how one should live. You are an inspiration. My daughter will know all about you, and will have you as a model to live by. Thank you for being a bigger part of my life than you would ever know. #livelikelindsay”
“The world honestly confuses me sometimes. Perhaps a light that burns as brightly as yours just can’t be contained on this planet. I hope you’ve found a happy place to rest. Much love to you and all that are feeling your loss.”
I made a phone call. This can’t be true. It can’t. This is bullshit. There has to be another reason for this nonsense, some explanation that makes sense.
“Ivy, she killed herself.”
No, no, no. NO. Please, no…
We had talked just days before. I’d invited her to go snowboarding with me from January 1–7. She said that she couldn’t because she had to prep for her new client, Kodak, and needed to start work for Sundance, but we’d definitely go play in the snow together sometime this season. She’d updated me on how it was going with two of the guys I’d connected her with a few months earlier via my matchmaking efforts:
She was a fiercely alive, badass Jedi warrior princess.
And now she is gone.
Frozen in time at the age of 28.
I could say a lot of things about Lindsay M Hawley, but none of them would even come close to doing her justice. Words on a screen feel so damn flat, unable to even come close to capturing the essence of this phenomenal force of a woman. So here’s an attempt to share who she was, in her own flesh, in her own voice.
Her epic selfie fail speedboating around Necker Island:
In her travels around the world, with old friends and making new ones:
On Savvy Stylish Shopping, with visits to her favorite resale shops in San Diego:
On finding your purpose from your story:
Via her blog, Live More Happy (LMH, her initials):
Including entries about how she affords to travel around the world (by thrifting, hustling, and sacrificing stability for the unknown and material things for adventure).
Her battle with anxiety, attempts to connect with her alcoholic mother, and determination to heal by trying different ways of taking care of herself.
Lindsay felt so deeply, along with a massive responsibility to do so much. Whenever she saw pain or felt suffering in the world, she felt a personal obligation to do something about it. And so she did, again and again and again. Collecting clothing donations for the homeless. Rescuing a puppy from the side of the road, getting it medical treatment, and making sure it was adopted into a loving home. Participating in Bows for a Cause, to help children with cancer. Launching a fundraiser to help raise money for her stepmother Sue’s breast cancer treatment. Championing and contributing to the Spay Neuter Action Project (SNAP San Diego), Peruvian Hearts Foundation, WildCoast, Sports for Exceptional Athletes of San Diego, Urban Angels Volunteer group, Connections Housing of San Diego, Global Wildlife Conservation, and the Door of Faith orphanage in Baja, Mexico:
She was always there as a friend and confidante. Cheering up friends going through breakups with “girls only getaways” to nourishing spaces filled with sunshine and surf. Encouraging both soulmates and strangers to get through the shitty times, to hang in there, to get out of ruts by helping others, and to recognize your infinite potential and to act on it. She believed in others, and in seeing themselves through her eyes, they were able to believe in themselves. Whoever knew her, loved her. I realize how cliche and cheesy this sounds, but it’s the absolute truth:
Lindsay left behind her younger brother Kellen, who she adored and was determined to help through school, and her father and stepmother. You can send support directly to her family here.
Stay connected with Lindsay’s projects and passions here. #livelikeLindsay
I’ve been thinking about her non-stop since I found out she killed herself. And feeling. A lot.
Sadness. Confusion. Guilt. Frustration. Anger.
Fear because when I look at Lindsay, I see reflections of myself and others who I know and love.
Someone who said yes to everything and had a hard time saying no if it meant hurting someone else’s feelings, even if that meant it hurt her.
Someone who gave and gave and gave to other people and causes, pouring from her heart and soul and spirit and wallet, but had a hard time receiving, finding it difficult to ask for support or to accept help for herself.
Someone who struggled with connection, who had a million friends and genuinely wanted to, tried to, and did love, but who sometimes suffered from anxiety and isolation, imposter syndrome, feeling disconnected from others and from herself, and trying to fill the emptiness with self-help workshops, gurus, conferences, parties, events, adventures, and numbing distractions.
Someone who was beautiful on the inside and the outside but had challenges with making romantic relationships work.
Someone who lived an enviably glamorous life on FaceBook and Instagram, who went to Necker Island to kick it with Richard Branson, ran around Downtown Vegas with Tony Hsieh, sipped exotic drinks on the beaches of beautiful islands and went on fancy fun adventures around the world, whose light other people marveled at and who others wanted to be.
Someone who was always there for everyone except herself.
I wonder if anyone else out there can relate.
We all have darkness. A shadow side. Parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of, afraid of, concerned that anyone else might see or find out about.
In this day and age where our lives are seemingly under a microscope, available to all for inspection 24/7, there can be crushing pressure to look the right way (perfectly filtered, obviously), do the right thing (make tons of money doing what you love, find and marry the perfect partner, be a perfect parent with a thriving career and thriving children, travel to luxurious vacation destinations and attend fabulous events, be a martyr and sacrifice your own needs for the needs others), and hang out with the right people (because hanging with cool/rich/hot people makes everyone think you are cool/rich/hot by default). There’s more pressure than ever before to deny and hide our struggles, insecurities, and imperfections because God forbid anyone find out at times we struggle with confidence, money, relationships, addiction, parenting, body image, self-love.
I don’t think that darkness is a bad thing. It’s part of who we are. Our darkness can teach us a lot about ourselves, about who we are and what we need. Acknowledging it makes us whole. It only becomes a problem when we deny it, mask it, hide it, avoid it, and pretend it doesn’t exist in order to pretend we are someone we’re not, someone we think and hope other people will like and accept. It’s exhausting trying to prove over social media or in person that we’re good enough, likable enough, and worthy of attention, care, and love.
It’s a dangerous game to constantly judge which parts of us are good or bad, right or wrong, trying to keep what’s okay and shove away what’s not, when the different parts of ourselves aren’t anything except what they are, and that’s okay.
Once we look at and own both our light and darkness, we can finally be seen. Really, truly seen. Which brings about peace and freedom. Peace because you are no longer fighting, exerting energy to be someone you are not, telling half-truths and living a half-life as a result in an attempt to appear perfect. Freedom because once you no longer give a fuck, you can be (or continue to figure out) who you actually are, not who you or anyone else (family, friends, religion, social media) thinks you should be.
There isn’t a definitive destination with an endpoint and gold star once you get there. There’s nowhere to get. Bravely looking at, accepting, and embracing both your light and your darkness is a lifelong journey, a daily practice, and one that you will probably mess up again and again and again.
I know I do.
You can too. And that’s okay.
Suicide doesn’t make any sense. The impact of it never fully goes away and it permanently changes those who are left behind. Once again, I feel like what I’m saying sounds cliche, but it’s the truth.
If you kill yourself, those who know and knew you will never, ever be the same again. Our mutual friend Chelsey described suicide “like releasing a hand grenade directly into the hearts of the people who loved you most.” Accurate.
If you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed right now, please, please, please reach out for support. Right now. Without thinking or hesitation. To that one person in your life who will pick up at 3am who would never judge you (this is usually the same person who you would do the same for). Tell them what sucks. What hurts. What’s really going on. They will listen, and they will love you. Because you are cherished, worthy, loved, and so very precious.
You can also reach out to a caring stranger who will pick up your call anytime via the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8522 or any of these international suicide crisis hotlines. They want to talk to you. Seriously. I volunteered at the Suicide Prevention Line in Culver City for five years. If you don’t call, we literally just sit around nibbling on slightly stale Fig Newtons while staring at each other across the table. We aren’t there for that. We are there for you. To listen to you, to hear you, and to care about you.
You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741–741.
If you want, you can reach out directly to me: http://www.bareivy.com/ I promise I will respond in 24 hours or less.
And now, I’m just going to leave this here. Because #truth.
I miss you, Lindsay. I am trying to do your memory justice and to heal my own heart by sharing your life and your spirit with as many people as I possibly can. I know that you would be stoked if it helps even one person who reads it.
May you have forever peace, precious Jedi Warrior Princess.