Why I Relate to Kylo Ren

Bear with me here, all of my readers who aren’t nerdy, as this post will relate to my mental health struggles in one way or another despite the nerdy content.

I recently bought a car – a used 2015 KIA Soul that happened to be black in color – on Star Wars Day, i.e. May the 4th. When I got the car, I jokingly said, “Hey! I’m gonna have to name him something based on Star Wars since it’s Star Wars day!” and Hubster suggested “Ren” because not only is the car black in color, the front bumper kinds reminded him of Kylo Ren’s mask. Seen from the front, the car did look vaguely like Kylo’s mask if it had 4 silver strips running across it.

I was against the name because I was not a fan of Kylo Ren. In fact, I felt that he was a whiny villain – someone who was weak compared to Darth Vader. He wasn’t scary at all, especially not when his mask was off. He reminded me of a pallid, whiny teenager. I thought naming my car “Ren” would be to affirm that I liked Kylo Ren.

Then I thought about it. The more I did, the more I realized just how fitting the name “Ren” would be. Today, the novelty front license plate I’d ordered a week ago arrived and I fitted Ren with the license plate. It had a photo of Kylo Ren on it. Today, officially, my car was christened, “Ren”.

Now why the sudden change of mind, you might ask? Well, I thought about it this whole week.

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Ren, 2015 KIA Soul.

I came to an almost startling conclusion. I hate Kylo Ren because I hate myself.

Someone on Facebook pointed out to me, “You’re the only person I know who is into Kylo Ren šŸ˜“. That stung a little because I have never ever liked villains. I’ve always been on the side of the heroes. I still don’t like villains but I have realized that Kylo Ren is not really a villain. He’s a tragic character more than a true villain. The true villain in The Force Awakens is Snoke, not Kylo.

It is an ironic thing for me. I went to the theatres 7 times and saw The Force Awakens – each time, falling deeper in love with its story and themes. I loved Rey and BB-8 but somehow couldn’t find myself relating to Rey. I liked Finn and Poe as well but also couldn’t find myself relating to them. I was angry when I realized that I related to Kylo Ren the most throughout the movie. Each time I saw the movie, I found myself connecting with him even more. I realized then that this wasn’t a coincidence.

Like I mentioned, I hate Kylo Ren because I hate myself. I hate how whiny he is, I hate how weak he is, I hate how easily manipulated he is, I hate how angry he is…. In short, I hate how I am like him. He reminds me too much of myself.

Kylo Ren struggles with himself all the time. He buries his memories, his past, and his shame under layers of pain, guilt, and anger. He desperately wants to belong, desperately wants to be somebody important. He desperately wants his parents’ affection and approval and feels like he gets neither. He is angry, and he blames his parents for all the hurt he’s been through. He constantly keeps himself in pain (especially the final battle between him and Finn with the light sabers, he kept punching himself in his wound to keep himself strong), in order to keep going. He rages, he destroys the computer terminal and the prisoner’s cell with the light saber made from an unstable crystal, he is incapable of regulating his emotions. I am that way in every single way. In short, I am Kylo Ren.

I love Rey but I am not Rey. I am more like Kylo than I want to admit. I am closer to the Dark Side than I want to be as well. I constantly battle my Dark Side but sometimes feel myself weakening and feel the seduction of the Dark Side the way Kylo does but in the opposite way. He despises his Light side, I despise my Dark side. Both of us have unresolved parental issues and though I wouldn’t want to stab my father in the gut with a light saber and throw him over a bridge, I would want approval.

Kylo said in the bridge scene, “I’m being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it”. That line resonate with me so much. I do feel like I’m being torn apart – I do want to be free from this pain – the pain of my daily struggles. I know that I have to keep fighting but I don’t know if I have the strength to keep going. I also know what I need to do in order to recover and be stronger but on one hand, I don’t want to do it because doing so means I will get better. On the other hand, I want to be free from this pain.

It is a painful realization – to know that I am like the villain of The Force Awakens. That I identify with the “bad guy” more than I identify with the heroes. I am not proud of the similarities but I see that now, that in order for me to recover, I need to embrace this part of me and accept that I am who I am. Without doing so, I will never be able to move on and get better. I will never be free from the pain – just like Kylo, not admitting who I am will be the same as him hitting himself in his wound over and over to keep himself in the pain.

As I’ve mentioned before in another post, I’ve struggled with my sexuality for a very long time (probably about 20 years now). Instead of running away, denying, and raging against it, I know that I need to come to terms with it. Will I do that? Well, that remains to be seen. S is certainly trying to help me see that. For the past 4-6 weeks now, our conversations have been nothing but about this issue and the things stemming from it. I know he’s trying very hard to help me see that I am punishing myself constantly for something I am incapable of controlling. Knowing something intellectually is one thing… Accepting it emotionally is another.

I think this is why I ended up naming my car “Ren”, after Kylo Ren. It is a reminder of who I am like and what I can become if I continue to act and make my choices the way Kylo has done. I believe that Kylo will be a character that will eventually be redeemed in the series, the way Darth Vader was, but that we will also see the choices he makes in his life consume him before that eventual redemption. Identifying with him does not make me a bad person, it just makes me just as vulnerable and as human as Kylo is.

Calligraphy

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It’s been a long time since I last did a calligraphy piece so here is one for today.

I just took my first 45mg of Strattera and it’s really threatening to knock me out. I can’t imagine what it’ll be like to be on the target dose of 80mg but I’m going to stick to it until I get there and give it a couple of weeks before I figure out whether I want to keep Strattera or not.

Thoughts From Therapy – #33

I have several thoughts from therapy today but I probably won’t be able write it in detail until Star Wars craze has died down a little bit and to give time to people to watch the movie because S and I talked a lot about it – not the movie per se, but the things I related to in the movie and how I felt from all of it. There won’t be spoiler in this post but I will refer to Star Wars since that made up the bulk of the analogies I was using to describe how I’ve been feeling.

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Life Lesson From Star Wars

As someone struggling with mental illnesses, Star Wars actually allows me to relate to the characters pretty well. In Empire, I related to Luke’s character – it could’ve been me walking into the cave in Dagobah, it could’ve been me having all that anger in me, it could’ve been me choosing between Dark and Light.

I never thought of it that way until my psychologist pointed it out – he made me rethink my stance on the franchise and I gave it a chance a week ago. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have watched the new movie.I wouldn’t have learned so much about myself either.

The Force is like mindfulness – choosing the Light side is harder and it also means putting in a LOT of effort, energy and commitment towards change and resilience. Giving in to the Dark side is easy, just allow your anger to control you. Just let your mental illness take over and do whatever it wants. It’s so easy.

Daily, I choose the Light side – sometimes I fail and I let my anger, depression, anxiety and ADHD take over so I get the struggle Luke had to go through. I get why it’s so hard for someone to become a Jedi. Overcoming oneself is perhaps one of the greatest challenges someone can have. And I also get why Anakin became Vader. We could all be like Luke in the cave, seeing our faces under Vader’s helmet but I’m reminded that like Anakin, Luke had a choice to make and he made a choice to overcome himself.

Turns out, it’s our daily choices that shape who we really are, not our pasts.

Here’s a link to an article written by Dr Ali Mattu on mindfulness and Star Wars. It’s a very interesting read and very insightful!

Mindfulness is the Essential Psychology of the Star Wars Universe