Did you see Leaving Neverland? Lots of people refused to watch it but I did. I found it both triggering and educational. >>Click to read my post and the conversation that followed.
What did we learn? Key takeaways:
- Abusers are usually trusted and close to the family.
- The grooming process is long and drawn out. When children are very young, parents are groomed too.
- The act of sexual abuse is not violent but presented as a unique way to ‘show love to each other’.
- The secret is what allows the abuse to continue. Secrets create shame, guilt and fear in the victim which keeps them stuck in the cycle of abuse.
- All abuse has intermittent reward mixed in with control, pain and a violation of boundaries.
- Victims are often trauma bonded to their abuser (these two boys loved MJ) and they felt guilty betraying him by telling ‘the secret’.
- Culturally too many of us close our eyes to the possibility that this actually happens. This is so invalidating for victims who already feel lonely and traumatised. It does happen and it is happening.
Oprah said in the post documentary interview: ‘You’re only as sick as your secret!’ Now, ain’t that the truth. I recently vlogged about this very subject.
The shocking ignorance about trauma
What shocked me most was the general ignorance around abuse, trauma and how it impacts our WHOLE life. It changes who we are. >>Click here to read how childhood trauma wires your brain for fear.
I’m incredibly frustrated that people choose not to prioritise their emotional and mental health.
“Every day create your history. Every path you take you’re leaving your legacy…” (HIStory, 1997, Michael Jackson).
Because it’s painful to face ugly truths but the ignorance, denial and lies is what will kill us eventually
….thank you MJ for THAT very important lesson. What we don’t heal gets repeated.
Adults can make those choices for themselves
…..Kids can’t. They rely on us to be emotionally intelligent and up to being healthy role models. We have to step up and meet their needs.
What can you do to protect your family?
- Please acknowledge the importance of healthy boundaries and educate yourself about them. Start with this blog post.
- Watch the company you keep. Role model healthy relationships to children. If you know you’re hanging out with people who don’t match your values, ask yourself why you do. Don’t minimise or dismiss your intuition or feelings for the sake of keeping up with the Jones’ or saving face.
How you and your child can learn about boundaries:
- For Parents: ‘No More Power Struggles’. This is my online learning pack to teach parents all about boundaries.
- For Kids: ‘Be Your Own Best Friend’. This is my online learning pack to teach children about boundaries, assertiveness and healthy relationships.
- I’ve also recently released a series of podcast episodes about friendship dynamics which highlight in age appropriate language the red flags of toxic relationships.
What can we learn from the ‘Man in the Mirror?’
There is no doubt in my mind that MJ was an incredibly talented and driven man, who numbed his trauma and pain with prescription drugs. He self isolated and suffered with acute anxiety and insomnia. His music and dancing was magical. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s like I did, you will know how to bust those MJ moves!!!
There is doubt in my mind about his sexual preferences. All stories seem to point to pre-pubescent boys. We’ll never know. There is no evidence. I wrestle with the cognitive dissonance of how somebody who was badly abused, who was so vulnerable and child-like could be a master manipulator and predator.
I mean, he didn’t just groom those families, he groomed all of us too. We bought into the King of Pop and his oddities. He gave millions to charity and healed lots of sick children. We felt sorry for him. He had a hard childhood, let him have fun.
Let’s use our power for good!
Maybe I can relate to his naivety. I want to believe there is good in the world and it angers me to know the opposite is true: that darkness does exist. Grown ups misuse their power over vulnerable children – maybe not always consciously.
We have a lot of power as adults. Children need us to use our power for good.
I want to believe in his innocence because there are so many times when people haven’t believed me. But I also want to believe those two men in the documentary too.
Since watching ‘Leaving Neverland’, I’ve turned the music up! Music heals and uplifts the soul. I’ve discovered new music duets with Akon – ‘Hold My Hand’ and Justin Timberlake ‘Love Never Felt so Good.’
He created from his soul. The message in his music
Seriously, there’s so much of him I can relate to. His deep grief and loss. His lost childhood fuels his message. It’s like a void inside of him that nothing seems to fill. The success, the money, the accolades. It’s not the love he craved.
His strong desire for change. His dreams for the world to be more loving, kinder and more peaceful. You get a sense that part of him believes with child-like wonder that like all good Disney movies: good will overcome evil. He will fight against and overcome his own darkness.
So did he become evil? No. He was human. His behaviour may have been questionable and he definitely crossed boundaries.
Money cannot buy you happiness.
Although, it can buy you therapy instead of drugs. Abuse and trauma (for MJ and those 2 men) is a life-long recovery process. An unravelling over time.
The thing people ignore: all this can be prevented. And that’s the thing that we are blind to isn’t it?
The world needs to wake up to the fact that counselling, therapy, coaching and healing isn’t just something we dial up in an emergency. It’s not a quick fix. it’s something we commit to for ourselves and for our children. It’s something we take care of every day like cleaning our teeth and getting enough sleep.
It’s a process of getting to know ourselves better and knowing that we are worth that time and attention.
It’s an investment in ourselves…..
and more importantly, an investment in our children’s future.
It’s quite possible that MJ was many different Michaels to many different people. He was gifted, talented and shared that with the world. He did want to make a difference. He did good and bad things.
He was human. Not God-like. Not a King of Pop.
“Everyone’s taking control of me. Seems that the world’s got a role for me. I’m so confused will you show to me. You’ll be there for me. And care enough to bear me” (Will you Be There, 1992-1993, Michael Jackson )
I wonder if he knew who he truly was when he looked in the mirror?
Sadly, he was surrounded by sycophantic leeches and vampires. Money talks.
Not the right kind of people to help him heal. Nobody was truly there for him and saw him as Michael. He lost that part of him so early on in life when his parents put him in the spotlight. The confusion, the loss, the loneliness and the need to be loved comes through loud and clear in his music.
“In our darkest hour. In my deepest despair. Will you still care? Will you be there? In my trials and my tribulations. Through our doubts. And frustrations. In my violence In my turbulence. Through my fear. And my confessions. In my anguish and my pain. Through my joy and my sorrow In the promise of another tomorrow. I’ll never let you part For you’re always in my heart.” (Will you Be There, 1992-1993, Michael Jackson).
Nobody said ‘no’ to him and that’s dangerous – no pun intended. Having grown up boundaryless and enmeshed with my family, I can tell you, it is dangerous not to have them. He had no STOP button, and unprocessed pain leads to addiction.
He was lonely. He wanted connection but couldn’t trust people. He wanted love but settled for the adoration of his fans and the company of children.
He wanted perfection which came at a price. The cost? His physical body. An unrecognisable white feminine- peter-pan-esque mannequin.
And in the end, his precious life.
And that’s where the story of this lost, complex, brilliantly talented and once-upon-a-time sweet soul ends.
Lots of people saw him as a lottery ticket. Others saw him as a freak. I think that’s short sighted. He was actually a mirror for what lies deep inside all of us. His magnificent talent, his desperately tragic and prematurely-ended story reflects our lost parts. Our repressed dark shadows, our hidden power, our gifts, our generational trauma, pain and suffering.
You can make a change. What will you choose?
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place. (If you want to make the world a better place). Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” (Man in the Mirror 1987, Michael Jackson )