I was sad to learn that artist Thomas Kinkade was not only drinking all night before he died, but had actually been battling alcoholism for years. It is not the first brilliant artist to lose his life one baby-step at a time.
Let’s examine the progression – not to point a finger at this artist whose work I love, admire, and own – but to see that nobody is immune. According to Kinkade’s brother Patrick, “He believed in God. He loved his daughters. He wanted people to be affirmed by his work. But he was awfully human.”
1. Decades of mean-spirited personal attacks on the painter
2. Pretended the criticism didn’t hurt his feelings
3. Felt misunderstood
4. Drank to feel better and forget
5. Battled with alcoholism since 2007/8
6. Split from his wife and four daughters in 2010
7. Partied at bars instead of dinner with family around town
8. Harsh criticism for his mass-market business techniques.
9. Company went bankrupt in 2010 (sales declined, galleries closed)
10. Arrested in 2010 for drunk driving – pleaded no contest
11. Isolated in his studio “painting religiously” over the past few months
12. Clean lifestyle 2 months ago: traded red wine for diet cokes and began working out
13. Future plans to reconnect with grown daughters
14. Died after drinking all night and not moving – age 54
15. Live-in girlfriend called paramedics the morning after
First a man takes the drink, then the drink takes the man. What starts as a way to feel better becomes the vehicle that unleashes demons inside. It’s what I call “the Committee” – those voices in your head that blame and shame you into the next round. The worse you feel, the more you NEED that next drink. The more you need a fix, the less satisfying it becomes. The more out of control your life spins, the more people notice. The more they notice (and comment), the worse you feel and the more you drink. And so it goes.
RIP Thomas Kinkade.
Are any of these things happening in your life? Have you wondered what the end of your story might be? What do you want it to be? What is the likelihood you will get there on your own?
Kim Halsey is a human resource professional and executive coach who helps people overcome life damaging habits, restore important relationships, and live their dreams without drama.