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.