Protect The Child

When I began watching  The Mandalorian in the winter of 2019, I had already heard about how cute the “Baby Yoda” was, and what a fantastic show it was. I even had one friend tell me I could use his account to watch it because he wanted to get my reaction to it. Although a great offer I did not take him up on it. I subscribed to Disney+ and settled down to binge the show.

I thought it was fantastic. But maybe not for the same reasons that others did. I found that I was relating to the main character, Mando, and his charge, the Child. Initially I was impressed with the sets and costuming. Jon Favreau’s attention to detail impressed me. But there was something deeper that kept me devouring episode after episode. I found that I found myself within the two main characters. Mando (as he is referred to) is a Mandalorian. I won’t go into a complete nerducation of what Mandalorians are, or about the various clans and types of Mandalorians, or if Boba Fett was really a Mandalorian, as it would be a much lengthier post. Essentially the main character, is a bounty hunter. He works alone and is very good at his job. He takes on one particular job to secure “the child” for a client. Successful in his hunt, Mando delivers and is paid for his bounty. That should have been the end of it. But he thinks about the child and returns to take him back into his custody. Thus begins the bond between the Man(do) and the child. They form a deep bond and look out for each other. It’s a wonderful show, shot in the style hearkening back to the spaghetti westerns….just way better.

Season 2 is currently airing, and the bond between the two main characters is getting even stronger. I cannot help but think about my own responsibility to the vulnerable child dwelling within my adult shell. Like Mando, I am suspicious of new friendships, and keep a steady watch over the younger me. Mando provides a safe space for the child to explore and play within. Watching every episode stirs nostalgic feelings for my childhood. Not the abuse, but genuinely happy moments such as remembering the smell of the plastic emanating from a freshly open Kenner Star Wars toy box, flipping through the action figure catalogue to see what was coming next, and failing at putting the stickers on the toy without creases or bubbles. I love thinking about how I felt in those instances. I could re-create my favourite scenes from the original films, and create my own scenes that were about me taking on the empire myself. The Mandalorian series really brings that nostalgia back.

When I became a dad, the most important thing for me was to take care and protect my children. Over the years I learned that I could not watch over them every minute of every day. They had to have their own experiences and deal with their own losses and victories as they continue to learn how to navigate life. It is the worst feeling when you see your child sad or in pain from either insult or injury. Not being able to do anything distresses me during those instances. The attachment between child and parent is a strong one. Watching that relationship between the child and Mando reinforces my own parental feelings and responsibilities.

Much like Mando, I have enclosed myself in armor, and have continually upgraded it so much that it makes it difficult for others to see the real me, the vulnerable me. We all have armor we wear, and the strength of it varies from person to person. We all wear masks, helmets, like Mando, and those who want to know us or hurt us are always trying to see what is behind our figurative shields.

However, even the strongest armaments are susceptible to breaking down or falling away. The more I share my story of survival, the less it seems that I have to constantly prepare for battle. The times I can remove my helmet and feel the air upon my exposed skin are times I can enjoy my surroundings rather than shield myself from them. Wearing armor all the time becomes exhausting. Yet, like Mando, for years for me this has been the way.

It’s only been in the last few years I have started opening up to more people – not to a large extent, but enough that I am noticing my need to arm myself is becoming less and less of a daily need, and more of a daily choice. My band of allies is growing. For that I am happy. I know I will need them to be at my side one day. Perhaps one day sooner rather than later.

My continuing appetite for all things Star Wars is not waning. The child within loves the continuing story, and I love the ongoing message of doing what is right against all odds. It’s not about what side you are part of, but rather, committing to what is right. And yes, it is all about perspective. A “certain point of view”, if you will.

It’s been a terrible year. Star Wars has helped me through again. I know there is hope, and there is light ahead. At times I feel as though I have been navigating this year much like Mando has in his space jumping inside his battered Razor Crest, while a small child continues to play with the instruments making it harder to concentrate.

My path to healing continues. Not that it’s getting better, but it’s getting more manageable. I am becoming more aware of what I need for myself and when I can be present for others, and when I need to retreat inside myself. In the past it’s been difficult trying to prove to everyone I worked with that I was worthy, that I counted, that I was a good person. I don’t need to spend the energy focusing on proving who I am and what I stand for. It’s there. It’s always there. For so many years I have been trying to prove I was worthy of love, respect and deserved nice things. It’s exhausting. I am learning that it’s not necessary to prove to anyone who I am. They see it. I don’t hide my past. I don’t try to make up for the abuse that happened to me by proving to others I am worthy of their friendship, love or attention. Just because I am a survivor, it doesn’t make me less of a human than others. I deserve my space to exist as well. I am learning to take my space; not shrink in a space I occupy.

My fight continues. It’s not so much of a war on all fronts now, but more of picking selective skirmishes to engage in, while letting go of the pointless and senseless fights.

I may remove parts of my armor more often these days but make no mistake – my resolve is strong. Anyone who tries to harm the child – my inner child – will pay.

I have Spoken.

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