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.

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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.

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2 thoughts on “Living with Darth Vader – the balance of light and dark

  1. Craig

    I have been following these posts over the past few months. You write with such clarity and are an inspiration to survivors everywhere. I often regard myself as a victim but now am starting to view myself as a survivor – perhaps one day a Jedi like you. Your experiences really help people like me who will never speak out – but sit back and heal in our silence. You are the voice to so many who need advocates like you in order to spread the word of our pain and our healing. Thank you.

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