I will open this blog with a warning – first- my somewhat warped humour is attached to some sensitive subjects. If you feel you MAY be offended – go now or forever hold your tongue (and your tappity tap fingers in rage mode afterward) because I warned you and will not entertain you with debate or take your interweb spankings later.
The next warning is a trigger warning. I will be discussing childhood trauma and rape in this blog.
Let’s rewind. Around 23 years ago – while reading Drums of Autumn, one Stephen Bonnet was introduced. This villain struck me as particularly abhorrent. He had this devious charm, disarming good looks that seemed to allow him to lure and get away with preying on his victims. This type of person has always set my teeth on edge and ignited a rage inside me that I had difficulty expressing precisely why.
Fast forward to Outlander the TV show, season 4. Ed Speleers comes to inhabit the body of the villain that lives in my guts. I wondered if I would feel the same about this character visually as I did about the book character. I did. Steven Bonnet, in both forms, were devastatingly like, what I now call, my internal ghost. Every time his character appeared on the page, every time his face showed on the screen- there was this physical reaction my brain fired against.
Wait, I probably can. I have. Never mind. (Source)
I knew Ed Speleers, was going to be at the Outlandish Vancouver event. I know damned well Ed is not Stephen Bonnet, I happen to pride myself on not being a complete fricken idiot. I know this man is not the character he plays. Let’s also say it out loud for the people in the back, I know Stephen Bonnet is a fictional character. I KNOW THIS.
There is this thing about trauma though. There is a brain/gut/heart connection that sometimes happens without our consciousness being on board for the ride.
As the cast was introduced into the Meet and Greet on Friday night, the excitement in the room was palpable. People clapping, laughing and cheering as each cast member entered the room. Everything stopped for me when I saw Ed. Not out of awe, excitement or fear. It was reality. It slapped me in the face like 35 yrs of silence might. Seeing him no more than 25 feet away unlocked something and I finally had all the pieces of the puzzle. This puzzle was one of those hideous 3D ones and at that moment, I only wanted to dump it back into the box to deal with it later. You see, it was that moment, as I stood in the same room with the embodiment of this “villain” that reached deep inside me and caused such a visceral reaction was because that type of guy, was MY villain.
This is where I get real honest with you. I was an 11 ½-year-old girl, when the 18 yr old, hot dance troop guy, who all the girls wanted to “get with” took me behind the curtain backstage. I let him because he said nice things to me. I must be 13, right? I was so pretty, wasn’t I? It was exciting – until it was terrifying. I wanted him to stop- but he didn’t. I wasn’t his only victim and he got away with it time and time again because look at him. Shouldn’t I consider myself lucky? Thinking back, finally, clearly, it was all of those things a predator and a broken child say to themselves to make sense of the insane things going on. Brain/gut/heart connection doing what it can to cope. Shove. It. Down.
I know now, the part of me that refused to be a victim as an adult was always afraid for and protecting that little girl that was violated so many years ago. Literally, the ONLY person that could hurt her was a man like HIM. Reading about that buried reality was one thing – seeing the character come to life was another. Obviously, my eyes were wide open to the why of it all now. It really wasn’t comfortable. Let’s call it an emotional wedgie.
Just can’t fix it in public no matter how subtle you are. (Source)
So, how does this go down at this lovely Outlandish Vancouver Meet and Greet? I’m having this brain/gut/heart arrhythmia that I’m not about to dial 911 for because that’s no one’s business and I am trying to process it. I’m not 100% confident about being face to face with Ed Speleers bc look wtf happened with him across the damn room from me!
On the inside – tornado – On the outside – try and move me (Source)
Eventually, Mr. Speleers wanders over to our table. Am I going to be a total tool? Yup. Tool alert.🤦♀️ The hairs on the back of my neck go up. I think to myself, “You are being a complete boob! This guy is a few glasses in and having a great time…pull your head outta your ass.” If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a shit listener. I decided to step back and take a seat, figuring avoiding him altogether might be best. Nope. That didn’t work! He made eye contact with me and I quickly glanced away. Not something I think is normal in these situations. Generally, if their eye is caught by someone, they are drawn into conversation pretty quickly. I didn’t want to be a jackass but I honestly didn’t know what to say and not be like “Your appearance triggered me and now I’m trippin’ balls.” That’s hardly fair.
I can be an arsehole but I’m not horrible. (Source)
I take some deep breaths. Center my thoughts on the energy of the room and away from my own. I focus and then, Ed and I made eye contact again. This time Ed’s eyes dropped down to look at my t-shirt…where our ABOotlander mascot Toger, was proudly displayed. (Thanks Lee for doing that!)
Here is TOGER! Our fierce Canadian beaver.
There was my opening, it was time for me to break the ice. The only way I know how – SherryStyle.
Me- *throw a look of disgust at Mr. Speleers and gasp* “Did you just look at my BEAVER?”
Ed- *sputter – eyes bulge* “Huh? What..No! I didn’t look at your beaver.”
Me- “Yes…you did! You just did it again.”
Ed- “NO! You made me look at your beaver by talking about your beaver”
Me- “Mmmmmmhmmmm, there you go again.”
Laughter ensues and more “yes you did, no I didn’t”, winks and smiles (as much as my palsied face CAN smile anyway).
As strange as it sounds…my beaver…TOGER became a running joke over the weekend. The fact that we named our beaver Toger in the first place – everyone knew we were playing with a filthy deck. The next morning, I brought Toger for my photo op. I suggested John and Kikki help protect Toger and me from Ed. Well, as you can see, Kikki was having too much fun fondling Toger to protect him. As for Ed, he was poking away at Toger.
The commentary got VERRA BLUE between the 4 of us. John Bell took his role very seriously but had quite enough and nearly fired all of us. My poor palsied face almost froze in a fit of laughter. I tell ya, that ain’t pretty.
Regressing a bit – Get this. I purchased a little token of Canadian goodness to give to the UK actors before ANY of the Toger/beaver jokes even started. A tiny little beaver with a Canadian flag painted on it, to remember their trip to #OV2019. Little did I know what this gift from me to them, would come to symbolize.
How cute! Oh – look…the beaver has a pole…or its chewing on some wood…either way, it adds another layer of dirt.
So, I attended a suite party. Things that happen at the suite parties are supposed to stay at the suite parties but this is something I am going to share because it’s a me thing. Ed and I were chatting and naturally, there were jokes. That damned beaver, always getting into trouble. Laughing and carrying on, we had a moment where he looked at me in the eye, hand on mine and completely jokingly said: “You’ve violated me! I feel so violated” I am laughing with him, yet I feel this shudder inside my chest. I’m not sure exactly what it is. We are laughing harder…and then two more times…”You’ve violated me” his hand firm on mine. I took a huge deep breath and felt something let go. “You do NOT know what you just did for me,” I said to him. Puzzled, he made sure I knew he was kidding around, “I was jokin’, you know that.” Of course! Of course, I knew. This weird twisted humour became the perfect vehicle. He didn’t know what he had just done and until I sat with it, I didn’t know the full extent either.
Ok, it was wrinkled before but you get my meaning. (Source)
I am telling this to you because with all the laughter and silliness floating around us there was something in those words that became a balm to me. Something in those words that I never once had the chance to say to the person that violated me. As they were being said to me, by the person who held that brain/gut/heart connection to my villain – it healed a broken part of me. That shudder – was energy, that deep breath was to a space in me that hadn’t breathed in 37 yrs.
I felt it at that moment and as I laid in bed that night. I replayed that moment over in my head, as I did, something changed inside me. I was having trouble describing it but I could feel it.
Did you know I was raped when I was just a kid? Did you know it wasn’t my fault? Did you know I locked that up inside me for so fuckin long that it burned a hole inside of me that became a part of who I was? That hole made me rage about men who are handsome, charming and devious? I know you know because I finally said it out loud and I feel zero shame, humiliation or apprehension in doing so.
On the last night of Outlandish Vancouver, we were on the final voyage and I was hoping for a moment with Ed, so I could thank him. Imagine, thanking a man that plays a rapist on TV for giving me back that last grain of power I allowed my rapist to have. Koko sent Ed my way and trying not to sound insane or wishy-washy AF with my palsied face on the verge of tears, I shared with him, much of what I have shared with you. I can’t say exactly what the exchange was because our words during that last interaction were more than kindness, I hold them close to my heart, in confidence. Ed Speleers, as funny as he is, he also is incredibly gracious.
I believe it more now than I did before. No matter where we are in this universe – people are put in our path for a reason. Many things happen the way they do because they are meant to. Had someone said that making an inappropriate beaver joke at Ed Speleers would lead to my healing a piece of my soul I forgot was broken…well, that just sounds full-on bat shit crazy, doesn’t it?
As others converged on our one on one, Ed gave me a huge hug, reached into his pocket and with a smile, pulled out the l’il wooden Canadian beaver I had given to him.