Living with Darth Vader – the balance of light and dark

It’s no secret that I love Star Wars. The entire original trilogy is one that I can watch over and over. The idea that good can triumph over evil is one that I still hold on dearly to. I know that my several previous posts have been a bit of a downer and full of the pain I endured as a child along with the pain of recovery. I promise to make this post more upbeat. However, I will warn the two people left in this world who have not seen the original trilogy – this post will contain spoilers dating back from 1977-1983. You have been warned.

12047573_10156046813145375_1563021622_n

I have grown increasingly fascinated with the character of Darth Vader. His is a tragic story and one that perhaps was trivialized to some extent in the original trilogy. When Star Wars was first released in 1977 Darth Vader was a mysterious character. He appeared part human, part robot and all evil. As the trilogy unfolded we learned more about his journey and the path he was on leading to his eventual redemption. He was a father. His son was the only person to reach out to him from a place of love. The clichéd term “love conquers all” can actually be applied here. Luke risks his own life to ultimately save his father who then sacrifices his life to save his son, earning him the ability to truly rest in peace with his former Jedi allies from long ago. Vader is capable of loving and being loved. He was arguably the second most evil person in the galaxy (next to the emperor) and still was able to redeem himself through sacrificing his life so his son could live on.

The second trilogy focuses on the story of how Anakin became Vader. There is a particularly upsetting scene when Anakin goes to the Jedi temple to destroy the younglings. This, to me, is the real turning point when Anakin becomes Vader. Vader really turns evil, but eventually reverts back to his Jedi-like ways at the end of his journey. This is what fascinates me about the character.

I write a lot about what happened to me and how I was abused through my childhood. It’s a big deal. I will carry that with me always. However, what I don’t like to write about is my flaws – my darkness that I carry around with me. Nobody likes people to know about their inner demons and I am sure that many people have them. For some it may be drinking, spousal abuse, child abuse, self-harm, mutilation, etc. etc. For me my darkness comes out of the times I linger on the past. Revisiting the past has brought the dark side back to me. And honestly, to an extent, I welcomed it…. for a while….

Living in the dark side can bring an immediate sense of power. After writing previous posts I would reflect on others and what happened to me. As my day would progress I would find myself fantasizing about ways I could enact revenge against them. All kinds of warped scenarios played out in my mind. I started to push my immediate family away – quite content to live in the self-pity I created within. The pain of the past is comfortable to me to live in. I know it. I lived it. The pain of not knowing future outcomes of events is much more frightening. I’ve noticed how easy it is for me to go over in my mind what happened and how I could return the hurt if given the chance. Not too healthy, is it?

This pattern of self-hatred is an easy one to fall back into. It’s difficult to give yourself love. I love playing Vader because it gives me a sense of immediate power – and when I wear that suit I am anonymous inside. People who see me experience an interaction with the character of Vader. I have a voice modulator in my suit that makes me sound like Vader when I speak – I hover over people – my presence in that suit is imposing. But much like I do in my day-to-day interactions, I use humour to break the tension with audiences. Vader in the movies is a scary guy. The Vader I portray- though menacing in appearance, has humour. Humour is a big part of me – it is a defense mechanism I have honed and crafted since I was a child. A kid you can laugh at is not a kid you are too likely to beat up. An adult who can make you laugh is someone you will likely not see as a threat. So I use humour. It helps my 6 foot four body seem less imposing to others. It helps me ease tension. It’s that part of me – the light side – that wants people to know I am gentle, kind and safe. That is really my essence. I love to make people happy. I have gradually been working on my boundaries – they are still fuzzy, but I am a work in progress.

Again this lesson is based in Star Wars and Jedi training. Yoda warns Luke to be aware of the dark side. Anger, fear and aggression are all elements of the dark side and once a padawan starts down this path it can dominate their destiny. I will admit it dominates mine from time to time. I have my fair share of anger, fear, and aggression. But it is a lonely place to dwell in. The Sith only have one master and one apprentice. In the original trilogy it is the emperor and Vader. The Jedi, however, have many allies. In the original trilogy Luke learns from Ben and Yoda. In episodes 1-3 we learn that the Jedi were the guardians of the galaxy and there were many. I can tell you, it’s much more fun to go to a party with a few dozen happy people rather than going with one stick in the mud (or should I say “sith” in the mud?).

I don’t go out often. I don’t like crowds. I am going to try and change that. I have the survival tool of humour. I believe that this tool is also a gift of mine. I am slowly learning patience. I really do have a genuine interest in others.

It’s funny – there is a small group of people I have been getting to know in Los Angeles (you all know who you are). Every time I go down there I spend a few days engaging in genuine laughter, camaraderie, and friendship. I’ve known them for approximately 7 years. These people are some of my closest friends. They love me for who I am. They know where I have come from and there are no games or secrets with them. They accept me for who I am and they genuinely like me and I them. Many of them are survivors in their own ways, but they are my true friends. While I love the ability to entertain as Vader – I much prefer the company of fellow good Jedi like them.

It’s okay to live in darkness sometimes. For me, at times, the darkness is a place I can go for reflection. I have to be careful when I am there because if I let it, I know I can easily stay there. But when I finally leave that place and come back into the light I can see where my path needs to go next. My path ultimately is in the light. I want to help others see the light and know that the dark is ok at times – as long as they can see that every night must end and a new day must bring light with it. It is a delicate balance, and though I tip easily from one side to the other – it is comforting to know that I have fellow Jedi around me. It’s good to be with true friends. They will catch you when your balance slips. They will not judge you. They will not tell you where to go or what to do. They will listen with their hearts. They, like me, are Jedi. I hope you have Jedi with you too – I am sure you do. May the Force be with you.

Advertisements

Luke Skywalker’s Journey into the Cave and My Burger King Collectible Darth Vader Glass……

By the time Empire Strikes Back was released in movie theatres in 1980, I had been out of private school for three years. I had no idea a second Star Wars film was going to be released, and I was excited when it finally opened. The second movie in the franchise, episode 5, opened on a barren tundra called Hoth. Cold, snowy and desolate, it reminded me of my town, Hopeless. Luke Skywalker eventually begins his training with Yoda on Dagobah to become a Jedi. There is one scene in that movie that I often think about. It’s the scene when Luke and Yoda are taking a break from training. Luke senses something off in the distance. Under a nearby tree in the swamp is a cave – a “domain of evil” as Yoda calls it. Then Yoda tells Luke he must go in there. Luke asks Yoda what’s inside the cave – “Only what you take with you,” he is told. Luke grabs for his weapon belt and Yoda tells him he will not need his weapons. Luke takes them anyway. Inside he is confronted by Vader and ultimately sees himself within Vader’s mask. Survivors of any kind of abuse deal with this – at least I am sure other survivors do as well. When I was recovering from the abuse at private school I felt so much confusion and anger. Luke appears to experience that as well as he endures his Jedi training. Often my anger was kept hidden from others. Having been used to endure cruel punishments I found the easiest recourse was to go limp and shut myself off while my tormentors did what they wanted with my body.

Though I may not have given much resistance – in my mind I was fantasizing often about what I could do to have my revenge upon all of them. Though I was filled with hate and fear towards my abusers, it wasn’t until after I was out of that school that I really began to turn the hatred against myself – the blame, the guilt – I was convinced that it was all me.

At the cave in Empire Luke sees himself within Vader. I was seeing myself as my abusers told me I was – evil – unworthy of love. In many ways I felt it would be better if I were dead. I was hurting so much within at my new school. Food became a weapon of mine – a weapon against myself. Feeding my shame with fattening foods. I became overweight. It was partly as a defense mechanism to make myself unappealing to any future predators. It was also a way of numbing the pain. I went all out – wagon wheels that I would cover with peanut butter, or Count Chocula cereal sprinkled on top of mounds of mint chocolate chip ice cream. These became part of my daily diet. The more weight I gained, the more I hated myself. The more I hated myself, the more my peers at my new school hated me. The after-effects of abuse can be very destructive. I made very few friends at school. I kept to myself more often than not. To this day, honestly, I keep few close friends. It is rare that you will find me at a party, or other social gathering unless I am working at an event. I don’t exclude myself from gatherings because I feel I am better than others – it’s because I still am uncomfortable around groups of people. I cannot really explain this. It makes no sense. There is still a small part of me that speaks out to me when I want to go out and do something. A nagging little voice – “you are not worthy. Why bother? No one likes you anyway.” So many years later and it still can prevent me from doing things I want to do.

I went through a period of time as a young adult when I tried to compensate for my insecurities and shame by being gregarious. I worked hard to be extroverted – to take over and dominate conversations. It appeared to work. People seemed to like my company. There was one friend (a friend at the time – a caustic friendship) who called me out on my superficial behaviour. “No one likes the way you act,” he told me. “People think you are too boastful”. He took pride in his ability to bring me down to earth. He likely had no idea that he not only brought me down to earth, but also contributed to my sinking below the surface. Again I wanted to hide myself from others – to go unseen. After all, I had somehow caused the abuse that happened to me, hadn’t I?

There are many sayings about family. Family is supposed to be there for you. To be honest, the only family I really had was my mother and father. I knew they loved me. I knew I had to protect them from my secret. I had been warned if I had told them what was happening to me at the private school God would wreak his vengeance upon them. It was up to me to protect them. I had to keep them safe. I would do anything for them. Three years out of private school and now in grade 7 of my public school another event happened. This was something else that I would add to my own personal blame. My mother, it seemed, had the flu. It hit her hard. She sent me to the store to pick up ginger ale for her. I didn’t know how bad her sickness was. I took my time riding my bike, stopping to talk to one of the neighbourhood kids as I returned with the six-pack of soda hooked through my handlebars. I returned home only to find a note from my father. “Took mom to the hospital. You will have to make dinner on your own. Love dad.” I mean it couldn’t be bad, could it? It was only the flu. It turned out she had a severe gallbladder infection. She had to have emergency surgery. The doctors told my dad there was a high probability that she may not survive through the surgery or even the recovery. I faced the fear that I may lose my mom and I believed that because I stopped to talk with another kid I might have affected what she was going through. My dad and I spent many days going up to the hospital to visit her. It was very hard for me to see her like that – she was a powerful woman in her own right. She was so tired in that bed, with the tubes going in her. I couldn’t spend too much time in there – I felt it was my fault. I had somehow caused this. God was angry with me and now he was going to show me what he could do. I would spend a few minutes with her and my dad in the hospital room, then go downstairs to the lobby and have a Dr. Pepper and a bag of Old Dutch barbecue chips – at times adding a Cuban Lunch chocolate bar into the mix. Feeding my fear…..literally. One night, as I sat feeding my face I was confronted by other members from my family – adults. Out of courtesy for them I will not reveal who they were here. They started in on me about how bad I was for what I was doing, sitting there eating. One of them even said to me (I was only eleven) “I can’t believe you are sitting down here while your mother is up there DYING – shame on you.” If asked I can describe exactly what that relative was wearing and the anger on that relative’s face as she yelled at me. People around me looked over at me. I had no defense. I wanted to say, “You’re right, I am a terrible person. My mother doesn’t deserve this. I am responsible for her condition. I know that God is doing this to hurt me.” Instead I just sat there and cried while they went up to see her. Sometime later my father came down and we went home. My mother was ill throughout that fall. No one in my family invited my father and I to Thanksgiving dinner. Since my mother was in the hospital, my father and I had been excluded. My dad and I visited my mom. Later he took me to Burger King in Hopeless for Thanksgiving dinner. Together we sat alone. Quiet. Reflective. That night he bought me a present at that Burger King in Hopeless. I still have it. It was the Empire Strikes Back Darth Vader glass tumbler. That Thanksgiving I learned who my entire family were – who I could count on. My mom and dad.

I cried a lot at home. My dad was strong. He did what he could. I had to get to school on my own, as he had to work early at the mill. I had to pack my own lunches – often I would come home at lunch and eat my ice cream/cereal instead. I began to hate school. The teachers were aware of what was going on at home and distanced themselves from me. Now here is where I want to get back to my earlier comment about how the choices we make can alter our future. One day I woke up and had no desire to go to school. I had twenty dollars. I walked to school and told the teacher I had to stay home and cried. She let me go home. I didn’t go home. I went to the mall. For the first time ever I played hooky. Not only did I play hooky, but also I did something else. I found an amazing toy I wanted. It was the Kenner Snow speeder from the Empire Strikes Back. I remember looking at it and wanting it. It looked amazing and would be a great distraction from the pain and the guilt I was feeling from my mother’s illness. It was slightly more than I could afford. However, there was a die-cast version of the same toy but it was significantly less money. The computer till would list what the item was and the price. I carefully peeled the price tag off of the die-cast toy and placed it on the regular toy. I approached the till. The woman who was working the till scanned the item – it came up snow speeder. She looked at the box. It was a good price. She bagged it, took my money, and I got a lot of change back. So much I could afford lunch out. It was a great day. Until I got home. It didn’t feel right. Something was wrong – My half-sister was a drop out. She was a shoplifter, a drug user. I skipped a day of school. I swapped price tags to afford a toy. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to become that. My mom would have killed me if she knew what I had done. I was doing this to fill a hole inside me – nothing was working. Again I knew that I couldn’t do this to my mom and dad. This day off I took (and maybe it was needed) was the last day off I would take. It was the last time I would do those things. It wouldn’t be the last time I would cry about my mom, and the fear I had inside. Unfortunately the hate and shame within me only grew more. Thankfully my mom got better. Maybe God saw that I needed her and her love. Maybe God saw that the only two people who really loved me were my parents. Maybe God wasn’t going to destroy us after all. Maybe, just maybe, there was something worthy inside my messed up childhood self – something worthy within me that should live. In many ways I think of that particular fall as my experience in the cave of evil. I had a choice to make between following my half-sister’s path into a deception of theft, drugs and dropping out, or to take a more solitary path towards my own inner discovery (often attempting to bury the past along the way out of shame and anger for what I had done, what I had caused to my family.

Decades have passed and yet I am still untangling the past, one strand at a time. And yet along the way Star Wars – in many ways – has provided me a new hope. If you ever come over to visit – be sure to ask me about my Darth Vader glass. As Thanksgiving approaches, you can be assured that I will be drinking from it – my yearly reminder of my fathers love for me during a time when family failed us in our time of need. My reminder of the year I almost lost my mom and almost turned a corner into a life I don’t even want to imagine. I will never forget the Thanksgiving my father and I were excluded from the rest of the family’s dinner. To this day ask any of my in-laws what I do on Thanksgiving. Our house may be full of people – but every year, I will politely slip away and end up watching television with my arms around my kids. For MAXIMA DEBETEUR PUERO REVERENTIA – We owe the greatest respect to the children.

IMG_1992

The Dark Side Within: Coping With Abuse as a Survivor

It has been a long time since I was abused in private school. I don’t think there has been a day that goes by without some kind of memory or feeling about the abuse that happened to me. I have had friends and family tell me from time to time to “get over it” and that “it was so long ago, don’t hang on to it”. Words of such discouragement to a survivor I believe do more harm than good. I know our situation is not a comfortable one for others to deal with. Imagine having to cope as a survivor of such things. We all inherently believe we are somehow different. As a victim of abuse I know I am different – I am a “damaged goods” kind of different. As a victim I believe right down to my core that I am not worthy of love, of advancement, of being happy. As a victim I envy others and the things they can do so easily – make friends, play, have fun. As a victim I can easily find myself hating others because they have not experienced the pain and trauma I have. You can see how dangerous my victim mentality can become if I let it get out of hand.

As a survivor I try to see the positive in what I am doing about my situation. I cannot go back and change the past. I cannot turn back the clock and get to experience what was lost to me as a child. I can learn from what happened. I can attempt to make sense of it, but that tends to seem futile to me. I cannot rationalize what happened to me – I can only believe that the priests who violated me were pedophiles, using their authority to take advantage of the young souls like me. As a victim I believe I am the only one this ever happened to – that I had done something wrong to make these things happen. As a survivor I believe that my voice is not alone – that my voice speaks up for the many more that remain silent because of the embarrassment that can accompany the effects of abuse of an adult survivor of childhood abuse. I believe that for every abuse survivor that speaks out, there must be dozens more that remain silent out of fear. It’s like an iceberg. Only a small percent is visible, but the vast majority hides beneath the surface.

I have darkness within. I hate myself at times for being too accommodating to others. I aim to please people, to get along with others. I shy away from conflict. I accept the status quo most of the time rather than stand up for myself. I am working hard to change this. I believe this blog helps me. I am tired of accepting what happened – I am tired of my “friends” who tell me to “get over it”. Sorry. It’s not that easy.

Some of my childhood friends support me, others do not. The victim within me would love nothing more than to shut up and let things be. I don’t believe that is healthy. Watching my children grow up I see that children can be the most egocentric and self-centered beings. I am sure this is a natural part of growing up. However, remember, that while you were a child – how much did you really pay attention to other kids. Anyone slightly different than the majority is an immediate target for poking fun at, or dismissing as “not one of us”. Eventually this mindset changes for most kids as they become adults. Unfortunately this is not the case for others. The adults who had a perfect childhood, who were favourites of the teachers, who found school such a dream – good for you. I am happy for you. To those of you who were different – such as me – who were not necessarrily abused by authority figures, but who were bullied by peers, beat up or made fun of for your clothes, religious beliefs, differences in diets, haircuts, medical illnesses…..I understand how hard it was.

I remember when I was out of the private school and in the public system, there was a little girl – I cannot remember her name. She was quiet. She dressed poorly. She had the weirdest tight curly hair. She had very few friends and she missed a lot of school. I remember one assembly where she was given an award for something. As she approached the stage, she fell. Her hair flew off her head. She was bald. We all laughed, myself amongst the others – as I tried so hard to fit in with my new school. To all of this, this was funny. We didn’t pay attention to the fact that she ran off, grabbing her wig. A few months later we had another assembly. This one was given to pay respects to her for her life. She had died. She was terminally ill with cancer. She died – she had few friends at that school, and was ridiculed for her baldness. Kids can be cruel. I was one of them. I tried to fit in and be part of a pack. After that assembly I thought a lot about her. I was different too. I was hiding it inside. I wished I had the courage then to go to her and tell her it was all right. She died way to young. I think it was shortly after that assembly that I made the decision to not be part of a pack. I think that decision was made to keep more distance from other kids so they would never know what my secret was. It still bothers me when I think of the entire school laughing at such a terrible thing. I ask her silently to forgive me from time to time. I was part of a pack for that brief moment. Yes, there is darkness inside. I learned from that experience that pack mentality is strong – and breaking away from the pack mentality is difficult to do – yet if you don’t stand up for what you believe to be right, those pack moments can haunt you. It’s hard to stand alone – but it can be so much more rewarding when you finally do.

There are many different levels of abuse and bullying. When I was in my mid teens I was forging an identity with a group of like-minded “geeks” at school. Humour was my tool to hide behind. It’s still a bit of a crutch, but it really is a part of who I am. My humour can be dark at times – I am sure that’s my way of coping with the darkness of my past. I am hard on myself at times and still try to please everyone. I’m getting better at boundaries and standing up for myself – but it’s been three decades from the abuse. Though I am trying to “get over it” I am afraid to say I will continue to heal and work towards the light. However, have patience with survivors. We are working to function better. For us, healing is not a race – there are no quick paths to recovery. For us, it’s more like a bloody long marathon. The Force is my ally, and though I will slip to the darkness, the light will ultimately lead me through. Recently I had the honour to appear with Weird Al Yankovic on his Mandatory Fun tour. I shared the stage with him as Darth Vader. Ironic, that as I work towards the light I play a figure shrouded in darkness. I honestly can say though – that being on stage with Weird Al was a huge highlight for me. Here’s a picture from that concert. Weird Al will never know how much this meant to me:

IMG_0575

I am still committed to finding the fun in life. I am searching always for the light. My path is towards the light and though I will linger in shadows from time to time, I am and always will be a Jedi working towards the path of the light. May the Force be with you.

Radio Silence and Support: How two radio stations treated me when they learned of the abuse…

I’ve had issues with adults in authority positions ever since the abuse happened many years ago. In fact, there has been a sort of distrust that I have that I believe to be a genetic encoding within me to protect me as an after-effect from being so horrifically abused. Recently at the university I received a terse email from one of my supervisors and I reacted with an email that was equally terse, with a hint of anger in the mix. It was an impulsive response – but there is a part of me now that has very little tolerance for any kind of perceived bullying.

At the turn of this century (oh boy do I feel old now) I was working for a Standard Radio station – Z95.3. I was the morning show stunt guy – and I did lots of crazy things for the radio station. I was zany, loud, foolish and fun. I quickly became the most popular on air personality at the station – much to the chagrin of my co-workers who had honed their DJ crafts ever so carefully to get that right balance of info-fun so many morning DJ’s have. Darren B. Lamb and I got on very well. He was the Alpha jock in the morning show – he and I wrote well together and I really enjoyed his company. Our Program Director – Eric Samuels – was a great guy. He loved what I brought to the station and he really realized my value there. Unfortunately with many top 40 stations, turnover is huge. Eric eventually was promoted across the country to help bring up other Standard stations that needed boosts to their numbers. He was replaced at our station with a man I will only call “Bob”.

Bob was the kind of middle management figure that is laughable. He wanted to be everyone’s best friend – endless promises of having drinks and fun times. The promotions people hated the fact that he believed he could (and did) go into their prize cabinet and helped himself to whatever “swag” (free stuff) he could. He was toxic to the station. Ratings went down under his stewardship. He was nothing like Eric was.

The media (namely Mike Killeen) had heard of my case against the school I attended and wanted to do a story about it. This was well before the huge uncovering of abuse across North America even happened. Such topics were taboo and extremely uncomfortable back then. The station – CTV was going to do a story about me as a survivor of abuse and they wanted to send out a camera guy to film “B” roll of me doing one of my stunts for the morning show. I spoke to Darren and his sidekick about it – Darren was very accommodating and ok with it – I forget what his co-host said about it. The shooter met me early in the morning (I usually started around 5am) and let me do my thing. I knew I would have to tell “Bob” about the court case, and the story that was going to be done on my story of abuse. I met him in his office and was met with his usual rhetoric of paper promises of drinks, and buddy-buddyness. I mustered up enough courage to tell him about my history, the abuse, and the lawsuit – and he sat their stone-faced. He was extremely uncomfortable with what I was telling him. His immediate response was that this was “not good for ratings” – He thanked me for speaking to him and I was relieved to get this off my chest.

A few days passed and it was very odd that I never heard back from Mike Killeen at CTV about the story he was going to do on me. Even odder was I received a call from “Bob” to see him in his office. I had a sinking feeling that this “random” meeting was going to be serious. The next morning I arrived at the station for my “meeting” and security was there. I met “Bob” in his office and was told he was going to “shake things up” and had to let me go. I was the most popular on air guy there at the time and this did not make sense. He assured me that this had nothing to do with my “situation”. I was requested to give him my security key and was escorted out of the building by security. The door was locked behind me. I was unable to say goodbye to my co-workers and friends, and my email account and all my emails were deleted within the hour.

CTV never did that story on me.

Oddly enough the next day I was contacted by Karen Daniels and Clay St. Thomas of the JRFM station – Karen left a message for me – I still remember it. “Hey Nic, this is Karen Daniels and Clay St. Thomas from the JRFM Waking Crew. We heard you were fired from Z95.3….we’d love you to come over and work with us.” My three years at Zed turned into fourteen at JRFM. When I met with the Program Director at JRFM – Gord Eno – one of the first things I told him was about the abuse and the story (that never materialized) CTV was going to do on me. Gord listened and said he had no problem with that. It was that simple. I was accepted there for who I was and what I could contribute to the station. When I was finally let go last August I knew my character had run his course. I felt it. Marc Patrick had me come into his office. This time he had a difficult time telling me. I knew what was coming. It made sense. It was time for Nick the Guy to retire from the radio. This time there was no security. I was not escorted out of the building. Of course there was sadness, but this time it was a mutual sadness. I was not being let go for what happened to me. I was being let go because the idea well had run dry with me. I had a good run there. My only regret was that there was no goodbye gathering. I didn’t get to see my workplace friends one last time. I did not leave that station with resentment and hatred. I left it with sadness and melancholy – but knowing that it was for the best. Besides it was a nice feeling to not have to wake up at 4 in the morning anymore. I miss my family at JRFM. I can honestly say I don’t miss many of the people from the Z95 place except for Darren. I had many laughs with him.

As an abuse survivor, rejection is hard. There is a part of you that feels that you don’t deserve things. A part of me felt I didn’t deserve the opportunity at the radio station. Though there is also a part of me that loved making people laugh, smile, or shake their head at what I was up to. I know I impressed my bosses – Eric and Gord. I know deep down that I did a good job. I just miss my friends there.

With the radio days behind me I am again focused on justice for survivors of abuse. At the time I was let go from Z95.3 the idea of abuse in the private schools in Canada was not as mainstream in the papers. Mike Killeen missed out – a few years later the media explosion of stories of abuse across America within the Catholic community was rampant, while in Canada it remains relatively focused on the residential schools alone. I applaud the United States for speaking out and giving voice to the victims there. I only wish Canada could continue to do more to hear the stories from the survivors of the residential and private schools whose abusers moved freely across the border between the two countries.

I am only one voice. Thank you for reading and visiting this site. It means a lot to me that you are here. Thank you for not shutting your eyes and covering your ears to the survivors that dare to speak. I am a Jedi, and it is my duty to be a guardian for those who, like me, were so wrongfully abused.

Sith Happens……

In The Empire Strikes Back Yoda warns Luke about the dark side, essentially about fear, anger and aggression. Luke tries to keep these in check through the trilogy, and is not perfect. He is a flawed, yet virtuous character. I think this is what drew me to him as a child. He had his problems too.

I was out of the private school and in the public school system when ESB came out. I was dealing with the trauma of what happened to me and was ever questioning why I had been singled out. I could not grasp it. Unlike children my age I was unable to think of just myself. It was hard for me to understand the concept of play. I became very quiet and spent much of my spare time in solitude, thinking about what had happened to me. I had been told that it was my fault, that there was something in me that caused this to happen. I was ever warned that if I spoke out about it that God would kill my family. Of course this is ludicrous. But to the mind of a child, these threats are very real. They were to me. So I tried to deal with the hatred on my own. My external hatred for the church and the priests who did this was turned inward and became a self-hate. I saw myself as unworthy of love. I was a burden unto my family – born to cause them pain and grief. Perhaps if I died, then maybe their curse would be lifted and that God may love them. Of course this is crazy, but it sure made sense to me as a child.

My attempts at suicide were pathetic. I took pills – a whole bottle of Bayer chewables for kids. All it did was give me a bad stomach ache. I tried drowning myself in the bathtub. It was harder than I thought. My inner critic was constantly putting me down. I really was pathetic, a loser. It is so easy to put yourself down. My inner rage grew. I hated the other kids for having friends. I envied how easy it seemed for my peers to play at school. When I tried to use a swing, it was often taken away from me from the other kids – and I let it happen. I agreed with them. I was unworthy, unlovable. I was pathetic.

Yet something kept me moving forward. There was something that kept me from truly harming myself. There was a will to survive that I was not able to supress. Each time I watched Star Wars or Empire there was a part of me that believed these movies were lessons for me. I was sliding down the path to the dark side. I had been trained in the school to fear. Beneath that fear was hatred and latent aggression. These were all properties of the Sith. If I was to be a Jedi I would have to control these things. Martial arts helped. I gained strength and the ability to defend myself. My thoughts still went to the darkness. I fantasized about killing the priests who had wronged me. As I became a young adult I resented the fact that I lost a vital part of my childhood – I had not really developed an ability to play. Unlike most children, I was play-awkward. I distrusted other children and subsequently other adults. I especially did not trust anyone in authority. As a young adult I faced a fork in the road of my development. I could escape through drugs and ease the pain of my past – OR – I could face my fears head on and change my path. I chose the harder one. Therapy is something that scares people. I knew that if I did not begin therapy, then the darkness in me would win. The greater light within eventually won out. I am not trying to make this out like it was so easy. The struggle continues. I face my demons daily. I have to keep reminding myself that I do deserve nice things. I am deserving of love. I am not responsible for what happened. I was an innocent child. God did not hate me. To those of you who have not had to deal with the remnants of abuse do not understand that this is something survivors deal with. I continue to deal with it. I try and embrace each day with compassion. Sometimes the dark shadows the light within. Mostly, however, the light is winning. I hope that this blog will continue to inspire those who read it. I hope that those living with the after-effects of abuse will know that they are not alone. We were abused in isolation and in the darkness, but through the light and through the power of our voices, we will be heard. No child should endure abuse. My path is becoming clear – that I may create a path for survivors to follow – knowing that though Sith happens, the light will prevail if we speak out – we deserve to be heard. May the Force be with you.