Richard Simmons May Have Hurt a Lot of People, But I Forgive Him

The past few days have been an emotional roller coaster. Richard Simmons is my friend, and it’s difficult to read articles about your friend that suggest he might be being held hostage and under the influence of magic spells, even if you think, like I do, that those theories are a load of horseshit. A lot of complicated feelings and memories were stirred by Richard’s subsequent interview on the “Today” show. There has been a lot to process, and I’m not sure I’m done processing yet.

Me and Richard in 2013.

Me and Richard in 2013.

I’ve known Richard for six years. I would see him almost weekly when I took his classes in Beverly Hills, and we would regularly email. He helped me lose weight – 160 pounds – and got me started on a health kick like none other I’ve ever had during my lifetime of obesity. As a result, I’ve kept that weight off for over five years, and documenting my successes and struggles along the way has been the foundation of this blog since I started it in September 2010.

This history with Richard is well known among my family, friends, and readers, and I’m not afraid to speak up and share my thoughts. I was quite possibly the first to publish anything regarding Richard’s public disappearance, long before it was national news, and I found a way to do it that was truthful and respectful, because Richard means a lot to me, so much so that I couldn’t keep quiet.

As a result, when Richard pops up in the press, people reach out. They send emails, texts, messages, and links to the articles. They ask me what I think about the often negative and salacious tabloid press he’s gotten during these past two years. They ask me if there’s any truth to certain claims or theories. And I do my best to answer. I’m quite good at separating actual information from rumor, speculation, and crappy journalism, and I work hard to stay reasonable, no matter how outrageous the headlines get.

Most importantly, though, people ask me how I’m doing. How I’m feeling. If I’m okay. So many people, whether they know Richard personally or not, are worried about him, and they reach out to let me know they’re thinking of me, too, because they know he’s my friend, and this has been a trying time.

These expressions of support and friendship means so much to me. They really do. Because the fact of the matter is that Richard has hurt a great many people. I’m one of hundreds, possibly thousands of folks that Richard maintained close, intimate friendships with. He gave people a safe place to voice their dreams, their fears, their shame, their guilt. They turned to him with their deepest secrets, and he, in turn, provided love, understanding, and compassion.

When Richard retreated out of the public eye, he took all that with him. He stopped returning calls and emails abruptly, and without warning or explanation. Those of us in Los Angeles could lean on each other, but there are countless people across the country, isolated by distance, fear, or loneliness who had nowhere to turn. Then he allowed those friends and fans to worry about his well-being for two years – two years – before making any sort of public statement, and that probably only came because some very frightening allegations surfaced in the press. How long would Richard have waited had there been no New York Daily News article?

I’ve read and heard a great range of reactions to this situation during the past two years, and they’ve only been intensified by the maelstrom of media attention the past few days. Some people feel relief. Others feel betrayed. Abandoned. I’ve read and heard Richard being called selfish, insensitive, a hypocrite, and much, much, worse.

I understand where they’re coming from. Those feelings are valid. But I choose to approach it differently. I am not angry at Richard Simmons.

For me, choosing not to be angry at Richard doesn’t mean I’m ignoring or somehow unaware of his actions. Yes, he handled this situation horribly; so did his representatives. No, he isn’t perfect; and he never has been. I stewed in anger and frustration by Richard’s actions for a long time, and guess where it got me? NOWHERE. No closer to answers, no closer to truth.

So I choose to think positively. I don’t need that bitterness and resentment festering within. I don’t fully know what’s going on with Richard, but there’s no value in speculation. Yes, the interviews he gave yesterday leave many unanswered questions, but I may never get the answers that I think are satisfactory.

And I have my life to live, with so many other things I’d rather focus my energy towards:

  • Sending positive vibes to Richard, because he deserves it (and probably needs it), despite his flaws and lapses in judgment.
  • Continuing to take care of myself, because even though Richard was an invaluable help, I ultimately chose to help myself, and I will let nobody, Richard included, stop me from, ahem, keeping it up.
  • Caring for others, and sharing my love with my family and friends, including so many people that entered my life through Richard and his classes at Slimmons.

I absolutely have questions for Richard, and there are elements of this that really sting. BUT I CHOOSE TO FORGIVE RICHARD BECAUSE THAT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO FOR A FRIEND. I choose to forgive Richard because that’s one way I can let go of the venomous feelings that this situation can sometimes stir up inside me. I forgive Richard for Richard’s sake, but also for my own.

I want nothing but health and happiness for Richard. I’ve said that since the very beginning and I will repeat it again and again. Sure, I would very much like to see Richard again, but if that never happens, than so be it. Supporting him, whether he knows it or not, is the single best thing I can do in this situation, and I’m not going to stop.

So, Richard, if you happen to be reading (and I emailed you the link), know this: I LOVE YOU. I FORGIVE YOU. And there’s nothing more I really need to say.


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4 Responses to Richard Simmons May Have Hurt a Lot of People, But I Forgive Him

  1. Ice_Badger says:

    This is awesome!

    If only everyone could be so forgiving of friends!

    in your own words… Keep it up David 🙂

  2. Dana says:

    Wow David this is wonderful! I really needed to read what you wrote this morning. Not because I am angry at Richard, I feel for him and who am I to judge?! but because I have been dealing with some stuff and I realized I really needed to let go and forgive. Thanks so very much and thanks for being such an inspiration!!

  3. I can absolutely understand your being worried about Richard with not having been in contact for so long. And I can understand feeling hurt that he didn’t share that he was okay and respond to any requests for contact. I think you are on the right track in offering forgiveness. However, I think you haven’t been fair in recognizing that he’s the one who should be forgiving you. And although I am not fortunate enough to know this obviously incredible man, it has been evident to me how giving and selfless his personality is and I have no doubt he would forgiveness you.

    Richard has given so much freely to so many, and he is so charismatic that people flock to him like a magnet. The problem is that there are so many people around him who are each dealing with their own set of issues and pressures in life. For example, one person has deadlines at work, a family member battling cancer, a friend about to give birth, another friend going through a divorce, a sister concerned about her children’s slow development, and they are trying to manage support for all these issues. Many people, when they are going through their own issue forget that others have multiple other people and issues to focus on.

    So, back to Richard, we should all allow him the courtesy of allowing him space to be able to focus on whatever he needs to rather than anything we feel entitled to know about him. It’s not a priority or a necessity for him to update us on his intimate life. The best and truest friends stand behind one another and accept one another without an explanation because they have had the opportunity to see just who their friend really is without having to interview them intimately. That’s one of the most beautiful things about Richard;you can see his heart and soul without scrutinizing him or challenging him.

    Anybody who feels as though they are owed a piece of him, or another person, and expect an explanation, a response or any sort of reaction from another person aren’t being fair. We are not entitled to anything from another person; if it is given to us then we can choose to appreciate the offering. I hope I am making sense, I know sometimes I’m clearer than others.

    All the best to you.

    • David says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I stand by these words, from my first post on this matter, dated 6/26/14 (click here to read the whole thing):
      “I’m not asking to be Richard’s confidante. I don’t expect a response to every email, nor a thorough run-down of what’s going on his life. I understand and respect his need for privacy. That said, it would be nice to know that he’s all right. It would be nice to know that he’s seeking help, talking with loved ones, and doing his best. It would be nice to know that there’s no need to worry.”
      Yesterday, in two separate interviews, Richard confirmed that I don’t need to worry, and I am grateful for that.

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