Christmas, Mr. Spock and the Logic of Creating Magic

From last year – once again.

starwarssavedmylife

A long time ago, in a Podunk far, far away many Christmases ago…there lived I. As a child I deeply believed (and wished to believe) in MAGIC. Christmas was very special to me because of the inherent magic that surrounds it. Wishes, hopes and dreams and a time of wonder that felt like bolts of energy as I walked through the malls and stores brought me a feeling of happiness and joy.

Because I had been abused from age 4 to 9, Christmases were more like a life-line, a recharging of belief in mankind. I was out of school over the winter breaks and these were breaks I sorely needed and took great joy in the comfort of my home. And then there was the man, Santa.

Santa was perhaps the one adult outside of my parents that I trusted completely. I would write to him and I was lucky…

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My father, my Jedi

It’s been a year – and on the eve of remembrance I think it’s fitting to repost this.

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A long time ago, in a podunk far far away I was born. The town was called Hopeless (at least that’s what I call it). My father and mother made their living there. It was a town where I would make few lasting friendships, and a place that I really only look back with fondness when I think of my parents and their love for me.

This past week was a week of remembrance. Even though Starbucks took to the holiday season early (November 1st) and faced a trivial controversy of issuing a holiday cup that was plain red, people still took time out of their schedules to pay respects to the veterans who have served their countries in times of need. I am not going to write about the right or wrong of the conflicts as that is not for me to say. I could easily look back and…

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Death of the Jedi?

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It is dark outside, and the rain is lightly licking the window as it falls. I am watching Empire Strikes Back once more. It has been some time since I have added anything new to my blog. There is good reason, but I am going to give it a go.

I spent the last year fighting for my professional existence. It was a difficult path, and it was emotionally and physically exhausting. Somehow I made it through. I felt the power of the Force and inside felt a sense of accomplishment. As far as I was concerned, I was doing good and making positive change.

Then it happened. One day in October. My strength was dashed from me through an event that nearly crippled me emotionally. Immediately I was drained of all sense of positivity. Old demons flooded back to greet me, binding me and chaining me to the horror chamber of my past. It was dark. It is dark.

People who have not experienced trauma in their lives (and I am so happy for people who have not had to experience this) have a difficult time understanding those of us who have had traumatic events happen in our lives. We all experience sadness, anger, loss, and so on. But I mean extreme trauma – extreme violence, shaming, abuse, rape, and so on. As a survivor of rape and abuse I am always doing my best to be a functional and contributing citizen to society. I do my best to deal with my past so it does not negatively affect others. In fact, I am constantly doing my best to help others, and share my past as a way to help others heal. But when a person attacks me in my safe place, both physically and emotionally, real damage is done and the healing process begins all over again. I really think this is a form of PTSD.

I am at the point of the film where Luke enters the cave. This movie is making me think about the Force once more. “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defence.” However, as Luke says, “There is something not right here.” There isn’t. Not here. Not in my head. You see I feel that the dark side is taking hold. I am at a crossroads of light and dark. The darkness is surrounding me.

I am doing my best to survive this. Today I was told that I may have to begin medication for this. That scares me too. I am trying not to spend my days in fear, in darkness. I am trying to stay on the path of the Jedi. But it is rest I need. I am burned out. I am weak. I am tired. A part of me does not want to fight anymore….

Yet, within the darkness, there is a spark of light. I can feel it. It is the rapid beating of my heart when I try to sleep. It is the nervous feeling in my stomach when I first wake up. It is the light. At my core I am light. I know this. I must take the time to realign the power within me, to focus on healing the damage done to me. I know I have to stand up for what is right, and to speak out once more. I promise I will. The path is never easy. It may seem as though I have given up. I have not. As Obi-Wan tells Vader in A New Hope “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Guess what? In October I was struck down. In due course my power will return I yearn for it to do so. There is still much work to be done for the good and for the path of light.

It has been difficult for me to write this. I am still finding it difficult to write anything these days. I think a return to writing may help me get better. I am really hoping it will. Wounded as I am, I will fight this. I have to. I am worried about taking medication. My half-sister was abused at the same school I was at as a child. Her path took her immediately to the dark side. She has spent a lifetime running, easing her emotional pain with the addiction of drugs. I have seen what it can do. Now I am facing a choice – to accept the medication offered to me, to help ease the pain inside my head and in my heart, or to continue to work through this and grow the light inside. I worry about addiction. I worry that perhaps the prescription offered to me may provide me with a “quick fix” that will grow in hunger for more quick fixes. I want what is best for me, I do. But I am not sure if medication is the remedy. It may be. It may not be.

I feel so many things. I am conflicted now. I am unsure of my reasoning. I am unsure of my abilities. I am drifting and listing in doubt. I know my family loves me. I know that my mother – now in her eighties – continues to worry for her “little” boy. I want her to know I am going to be ok. It will be ok, won’t it? It may not be today or tomorrow, but one day I will be back with the Force as my ally. After all, I am still a Jedi, right?

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Unleashing the Jedi Within – The Story

Here is the paper that started it all….

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Unleashing the Jedi Within:

Reclaiming a Stolen Childhood Through the Power

of the Force

In May of 1977 I was invited to a friend’s birthday party at the local Odeon cinema to watch the film Smokey and the Bandit. However, a film playing in the next theatre caught my attention, and I remember going back and forth between the two.  Each time I returned to the birthday group I would find another excuse to leave and sneak back into the other cinema. I wasn’t aware, however, that the film I couldn’t tear myself away from was half an hour longer than the Bandit. I was engrossed watching the final battle when the birthday boy himself grabbed me by the collar and removed me from my seat. He and his parents, who had driven us all to the theatre, had been looking for me. It wasn’t long before I…

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Dear Graham James: All Lives Matter! or: Remember the Victims of Abuse Too.

The episodes of rape, sexual, mental, emotional and physical abuse are events permanently burned into my memory. I don’t go for more than a few days without mental images of my abusers popping into my head. That is not to say that I am not a functioning member of society. I am. I am a survivor, as you know, of abuse. The abuse happened when I was very young and continues to affect my day-to-day interactions. Though I am on the path of healing and forgiveness, there are some things that continue to baffle me when it comes to dealing with convicted sex offenders. In Canada, it seems our legal system does not want to take severe action with those who perpetrate sexual abuse. We must focus on the rehabilitation of the offender. We must address their needs and wants. We must make sure that they will not offend again and re-introduce them to society. This all sounds wonderful in theory – and those who have never been abused applaud our forward and progressive way of thinking when dealing with abusers. But what about the victims of abuse? What happens to them? There are very few services that cater to sexual abuse victims in Canada, and it is near impossible for victims to feel safe when stepping forward to speak out against their perpetrators. In Canada it seems that sexual abuse is a subject best whispered about behind closed doors, and better off to be forgotten altogether. When victims do have the courage to come forward they are scrutinized for their memory of the abuse – inconsistencies in their accounts are obvious holes in the truth and claims are tossed aside, or given little to no weight in sentencing.

This leads to the question about the time served for abuse. Sex offender Graham James is seeking full parole for his crimes against innocent children. He is serving a seven year sentence and has day parole. He is renting an apartment and now wishes to live in the community with the support of his family and his support workers.

James was a hockey coach and abused players who went on to be NHL pros including Sheldon Kennedy. Graham James is applauded for “showing insight into the damage he has caused.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/graham-james-seeks-parole-1.3691965

Kennedy feels the punishment on James is minimal and too light. I agree with him. Unless you have experienced abuse as a child, it is too easy to over-look the impact abuse has upon us.

While I support healing and therapy, I firmly believe that people who have a history of abusing children on multiple occasions must be closely monitored and held accountable for their actions. Five seconds of personal gratification while raping a child leaves a lifelong scar upon that young soul. A scar that keeps hurting and making the child feel as though they are the ones in the wrong for what happened to them – not honouring their lives makes them see that the judicial system places more worth on the abuser than the abused. This must change. While it is important to see and support the healing of the abuser, it is also very important to support the healing of those who were the victims of abuse. They are often the forgotten ones – and when a light sentence of seven years is not even fully served, it feels like another slap in the face of those who are victims of abuse.

Children matter. Children are the future, and an abused child never forgets the injustices that happened to them. With healing and support the victim can be a survivor and grow – but when ignored and forgotten, they can easily remain lost.

While we continue to grow and develop as a society, let’s make sure that there is an equal place for hearing everyone – no matter of race, orientation, victim or abuser. Yes, we all matter – let’s just remember that the victims and survivors count too.

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Abuser Graham James – so bold to abuse several children, yet too afraid to show his face in public.

 

No really does mean NO….

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Perhaps the most difficult word for me (as an abuse survivor) is “NO”. We know what that word means when we hear it. There was a campaign years ago that encouraged people to respect the word NO. The slogan read “No means No”. Simple and easy to understand, right? Not so much.

My childhood was stolen away from me at the hands of pedophile priests and abusive adults charged with my care in school. When I was not being raped, fondled, beaten or locked in closets, I was trying to tread lightly ever hopeful that what had just happened was the last time. The “last time” went on for almost five years of my early education. When I was finally out of that school the next several years would involve me learning to establish boundaries. “No” was not a word that held power. The other day I recalled one event involving the principal of the school forcing my little body over the pummel horse in the auditorium stage of the school, his breath reeking of stale coffee and rancid cucumbers as he pinned me down from behind. Hot tears ran down my cheeks as I cried out “no, no, no, no no….” over and over – he punched me in the back of the head, grabbed my hair and forced my face down into the vinyl padding of the pummel horse, muffling my feeble cries for help. “NO” was ineffective and simply saying that word inflicted more pain and abuse on my young soul and body.

As the years and the abuse passed, my own personal boundaries were fragile negotiating grounds – having been easily annexed by my childhood abusers. I wanted strong boundaries, believe me – but the act of saying NO and holding to it was, and still is, a difficult choice for me. This probably seems so simple to many who will read this. However, it is difficult. Conflict is something I have tried again and again to stay away from. Resistance to pressure resulted to unimaginable acts of abuse against me as a child. Even though I am a fairly strong adult now, there is a fragile child within this body who is terrified at attracting attention to himself. I often feel that when I give in to someone’s will after initially saying no, that child inside has been ignored and devalued. It is so important for those who have not been abused to respect people’s choices when they say NO. Here is an example from my experience of compromising my boundaries:

Person A: “It’s a nice day. Let’s go for a walk”

Seems relatively simple. It’s an honest suggestion.

Me: “You know what, I don’t really feel like it today.

My answer to this question is a little weak as my boundaries are fragile.

Person A: “Why not?

Okay, now I am starting to feel a little bit on the defensive.

Me: “I’d rather not go.”

Person A: “Come on! It will be good to go.”

Me: “No. I don’t want to.”

I am now starting to feel backed into a corner.

Person A: “Why not?”

Me: “I said I don’t want to.”

Here I am trying to hold my ground – shaky as it is. Now I am just wanting to hold steadfast to protect my inner child.

Person A: “Give a good reason.”

Now I am back to feeling as if I am back to being told I am a bad person if I don’t let the other person get their way.

Me: “I said no.”

That should really be the end of it – now I am getting a flood of emotions including fear, anger, shame, hatred and so on. It is not logical, it’s just how the abuse survivor’s mind is working.

Person A: “Give me a good reason and I’ll let it go.”

Yeah, right. Now I am just wanting this to end. What was once perhaps a nice day has turned to an inner feeling that I am now a bad person who has to let the other person have their way and my fragile boundary is shattered once more. This is the point where I will likely just go along with the other person. It won’t be a nice walk for me as I will be feeling resentful and ashamed of myself for giving in and not honouring what I wanted to do in the first place. This may make sense to you or you may not understand what I am trying to say here. It is just an example of one of many ways my self-worth gets eroded when NO is not heard.

All I would like in situations like the above that I have described, is to be heard. Chances are I would love to walk with you, I would love to do things, but when I am put in a position when I give an answer and the answer is not the one that you wanted me to say, please let it end there. Another time perhaps. Please don’t question my boundaries. Here is another example:

Person B: “These are great. Have one.”

Me: “I’m sure they are, but no thank you.”

Person B: “Why not?”

Now I am feeling bad that I may have done something wrong. But I have developed a food addiction as the result of being abused as a child and food was a comfort when alone consoling myself.

Me: “I don’t want any.”

Person B: “Try them. Come on.”

Here we go again.

Me: “Okay fine.”

Sure, I’ll take one – then when person B goes away I will shame eat the rest away. And so the boundaries are easily destroyed once more.

I know I write a lot about survivors and abuse. Believe me, I have come a long way in my healing. I write these in hopes of shedding light for those of you fortunate enough to not have been abused, yet who may know people who have been. If you were abused, I write these posts to ease your mind in knowing that you are not alone, and that there is no time line to “be better”. I take my healing one step at a time, and sometimes it feels like I am walking backwards. My boundaries continue to strengthen, but are at times renegotiated or challenged. I guess what I am attempting to write here is the importance of NO. There are times when NO really does mean NO, you know?