Lynne MacDonell, Male Survivor, On Writing, Playwright, Sexual Abuse, Theatre, Writing Life

Bringing Levity to a Serious Issue -A Reluctant Playwright Tackles a New Play

lev·i·ty
ˈlevədē/
noun
noun: levity; plural noun: levities
  1. humor or frivolity, especially the treatment of a serious matter with humor or in a manner lacking due respect.

Whenever I attempt to tackle a serious life issue faced by real-life people in my writing, my aim is always to intersperse the message with a brand of levity that is neither offensive to the reading/watching audience nor disrespectful to the target subject facing the real-life issue being tackled (I apologize for the run-on sentence). This task is not as easy as it probably doesn’t sound, especially when I am a member of the target group I’m writing about. But I tackle issues. It’s one of the things I like to do with my writing. I don’t shy away from the task because it is difficult to accomplish. I embrace it. It’s a challenge a choose to take on.

Back in 2012 I wrote a blog post about Childhood Sexual Abuse and where Toronto area men could go for help to overcome the side-effects of this devastating crime (Sadly and happily it is google search-and-found almost daily by those seeking help–sadly, because it’s heartbreaking to think there are that many victims out there and happily because I’m glad they are finding help through the provided links). I wrote about a miracle worker who has made it her life’s work to heal men and help them recover their lives from the morass of their broken childhoods. Lynne MacDonell brings men from victimhood to survivorhood to thriverhood. She does this with individual therapy and guided and thriver-led group therapy.

 

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I built this Inukshuk on West Fork Trail on Oak Creek just outside of Sedona, Arizona, this past September. It’s a symbol found in abundance in Lynne MacDonell’s office. I built it for my group brothers…

I am now YEARS into my own personal healing journey. One day, while awaiting the commencement of a group therapy session, a conversation about plays and theatre led to a discussion about a play which takes place in a therapy group session. The guys know that I’ve been writing plays for a few years now. At first, it was a bit of a joke. “And we can have the guy who…” and we would outline all the shady/crazy/funny/sad characters that would take the stage in the play. We had all the archetypes covered, all the stereotypes, all of US. It was a discussion of life imitating art imitating life imitating art.

A funny thing began to happen about ten minutes in to our conversation. I got that warm flush of excitement I receive when a kernel of an idea begins to grow and take possession of my creative brain. The downhill snowball effect of the creativity engine kicked in and I became excited. “And we can make it funny–I mean, fucking hilarious, right–because look at us. Even we know there are funny things about us. We’re a cesspool of fodder for funny.” And someone else said, “At the same time, we could educate. We could get a message out. We could immobilize.”

And then, inevitably in discussions such as this, someone swung into that dangerous territory where they spurted out something like, “We could change the world!” And the conversation kind of fizzled out at that point because we all felt just a bit foolish for getting excited about something we were dreaming up as a sort of joke to pass the time as we were waiting for all the others to arrive.

The thing with creativity kernels, however, is that they fester. They live in those dark halls of the mind where a writer’s fictional worlds get built. They occasionally come out of their rooms and clutter your everyday thoughts. They say, “Hey! Remember me!” like they are drugs and the writer is the junkie looking for a fix.

That play idea has been battling for head-space ever since we concocted the idea. It whispers to me while I’m writing other things. It walks across my thoughtscape holding placards that read, “Don’t you forget about me!” It campaigns to be taken out of its cell and allowed access to the playground. Sometimes there is nothing one can do to stop the growth of an idea. Nothing, that is, but write.

So now I’m faced with a large task. Write a play about childhood sexual abuse that audiences would actually want to see. We are talking about an issue that is avoided like the plague. BY EVERYONE. Don’t talk, don’t talk, don’t talk. You spend your life hearing that mantra. You live by it. You swallow the pain. You attempt–incredibly failingly–to convince yourself that you’re okay, that you don’t need to talk about it. You attempt to talk about it and you are silenced. It is THE topic not to be touched. NOBODY WANTS TO ADMIT IT HAPPENS. EVERYBODY WANTS IMMUNITY FROM ITS EXISTENCE. Let the victims deal with it…why should we? It didn’t happen to us.

But this thing in my head won’t be silenced. Some bonehead in my men’s childhood sexual abuse recovery group made a tiny little suggestion one day a year or so ago, and like that tiny fucking piece of metal in the woods in Stephen King’s TOMMYKNOCKERS, I stumbled over it. I have fallen victim to it. I have been digging. And, ladies and gentlemen, it is getting bigger. The synopsis of TOMMYKNOCKERS goes something like this… After a writer discovers a piece of metal sticking out of the ground in the woods behind her house, she starts to dig — and dig and dig. For me, that little piece of metal was the flip suggestion that I put our experience on a stage. AND that I make it funny. But more poignant than funny, because what would be the point of making it a comedy? I believe the term dramedy was bandied about.

Enter LEVITY. Enter LAUGHING. Enter ‘Make it respectful’.

Enter a fine-edged sword. It’s a monumental task to walk the edge of a sword without getting cut. But I think I have found my next project. Or, rather–and this is totally WRITER TALK talking here–my next project has found me. My mission, should I choose to accept it–like I have any choice in the matter–is to write the play. To make it funny. To make it eye-opening. To make it a topic of discussion for those imagined audiences that may or may not ever see it. To open the door and shed the light. To make us real but not pathetic, lovable but not pitiable, funny but not caricatures or stereotypes, endearing but not detestable.

THE TRUTH IS some see US as contemptible and unappealing, pariahs who would invariably perpetuate the cycle of what we have endured. Some are incapable of stripping VICTIM from our personhood. Or, even worse, they are incapable of stripping PERPETRATOR from our personhood. They believe in the monkey-see/monkey-do ness of the crime, the dreaded VAMPIRE MYTH. That look we sometimes get…like the person looking at you has already determined your guilt. Or, even if they don’t determine your guilt and your potential of perpetuating the crime-cycle, that other look…the suspicion of your complicity in what happened to you.

YEP. These are all things. And here I am about to jump into the waters of this idea that will not rest. Here am I about to attempt to write a play that may never have an audience because of its potential ICK factor. I am also aware that the therapy group setting has been done…successfully. I go into this with only one wish: WRITE A POIGNANT WITTY SOMETIMES BREATHTAKINGLY SAD KNEESLAPPINGLY FUNNY PLAY THAT WOULD APPEAL TO A LARGE AUDIENCE. No biggie. Thanks for planting the kernel, guys. I’ll now attempt to hit this one out of the park for the brotherhood…and for our incredibly fearless champion, Saint Lynne of the Broken Boys Healing Club. With levity.

LIGHTS UP…

Childhood Sexual Abuse, Fundraiser, Male Survivor, Male Victims, Sex Abuse, Weekends of Recovery

MaleSurvivor Fundraiser Ends Tonight!

SOLDIER-BOY

 

The fundraiser to raise funds for the Male Survivor Weekend of Recovery Scholarship Fund wraps up at Midnight Ontario time tonight. How can y0u help? Buy any of my three books from any bookseller anywhere and 100% of the royalties from the sale of those books is going to go directly to the scholarship fund. Male Survivor awards scholarships to those men looking to attend their Weekend of Recovery retreat program who were victims of childhood/adult sexual abuse and in need of financial assistance.

If you do not wish to purchase any of my books, please consider making a direct donation to Male Survivor through their website.

To learn more about MALE SURVIVOR PLEASE CLICK HERE

Read about their WEEKENDS OF RECOVERY BY CLICKING HERE

Here’s the original post I made on my blog regarding the fundraiser which includes a link to my NOVELS page for quick access to online purchasing of my books.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you will see that I try to do this every few months or so…so if you miss this fundraiser, I will have another one sometime in the future.

 

For those of you who have made purchases inside the fundraiser window, thank you so much. Know that your money is going to an extremely worthy cause. This program saves lives. It transforms lives. I have been to two of these weekends and they have drastically shaped my own recovery process, so I know firsthand the power of these weekends. They are a crucial step. THANK YOU!

Childhood Sexual Abuse, Kevin Craig, Male Survivor, Sex Abuse, Weekends of Recovery

Today is the Day! Male Survivor Dot Org Fundraiser

I absolutely LOVE the movie THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL! Love, love, love it. I won’t tell you how many times I have watched it. I know it’s in the double digits, though. I don’t know what it is about it…I just find it absolutely delightful.

One of my favourite mini-moments in the movie is when Tom Wilkinson’s character, Graham Dashwood, says, “TODAY IS THE DAY.” He’s in a room filled with stuffy lawyers and says it very calmly and then he walks out on a pretentious retirement speech and heads out of his life and into adventure. It’s a fantastic line, delivered flawlessly. When is the time to make change? You’re struggling because you know you’re not happy, but you’re somehow too immobile to do anything about it. There is this moment where it all falls away, and you just say to hell with it. TODAY IS THE DAY.

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Click on this image to be taken to Howard Fradkin’s site. This book is an incredible recovery tool for male victims of sexual abuse.

Today is the day that I set up another fundraiser for MALE SURVIVOR. Every few months I like to donate the royalties from all book sales to Male Survivor. They are an integral part of my own recovery…and I would like for them to be there for other men on their healing journeys. They have a program called WEEKEND OF RECOVERY. It’s a weekend retreat that helps men on their healing journey from childhood OR adult sexual abuse. For men who cannot afford the program, Male Survivor have set up a scholarship fund. That scholarship fund is what I like to contribute to when I can. I can’t stand the notion that men are missing out on this step in their recovery because they can’t afford to attend. The weekends are fully transformative…an integral step in the long and arduous journey from victim to survivor to thriver.

From the moment this post goes live (June 12, 2014) until Midnight June 26th, 2014…ALL ROYALTIES (100% of my share of the sales) from the sale of any of my three books, purchased from any retailer online or otherwise, will go directly to Male Survivor’s scholarship fund. If you do not care to purchase one of my books, you can still help Male Survivor. CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE MALE SURVIVOR WEBSITE TO MAKE A DONATION DIRECTLY TO THE SCHOLARSHIP FUND.

I have a NOVELS page on my site now, so you can go to it and click any of the buy links posted. Click here to go to my NOVELS page. Easy-peasy. (-: You can also buy directly from my publishers OR at any online retailer that carries the books. You don’t have to purchase from the links I’ve posted. Rest assured that if you purchase a copy during this time, all my royalties will go to the scholarship fund.

Thank you in advance for helping me to send others forward into their new and newly empowered lives!

My three novels: Summer on Fire, Sebastian's Poet, and, The Reasons
My three novels: Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and, The Reasons

 

 

 

Childhood Sexual Abuse, GTA, Lynne MacDonell, Male Victims, Men's Group, Sex Abuse, Therapy, Time For Men, Toronto

Toronto (GTA) Help for Male Child Sexual Abuse Victims

Today, I would like to do something different. Please be patient while I use this forum for an important public service announcement.

Even as more and more men are coming forward about their experiences with childhood sexual abuse, even as the media is flooded with more and more horrifying stories of CSA and the perpetrators of these crimes, it is still ever difficult for men to find help.

In the TORONTO (GTA) area, there is help in the form of an amazing woman who does tireless work with (and for) male CSA victims. Lynne MacDonell is a member in good standing with the Ontario Association of Counsellors, Consultants, Psychotherapists and Psycometrists. She is also a member of the award winning team of MaleSurvivor.org. Lynne runs two groups (TIME FOR MEN) for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The groups cover such topics as trauma issues, safety and healthy & unhealthy coping strategies.

Lynne MacDonell’s office is located on Bloore West inToronto (and she can be contacted here through her site), just steps from the Jane subway line.

If you are living in Toronto—or anywhere in the GTA—and you are suffering alone, you need to know that you are NOT alone. AND it’s not your fault. Help is out there. If you’ve been seeking that help, you need look no further. Just follow the link below (CLICK ON THE INUKSHUK) to be taken to Lynne’s website. You will find a CONTACT ME link at the top of her homepage.

 There are many resources to be found on Lynne’s site. Her web address is http://www.lmtherapy.com (That’s an L and an M, not I’m) You will find answers to frequently asked questions, crisis line information, etc.

If you’re struggling and looking for support, call or email Lynne today. It’s time to start your healing journey.

(Updated to include Lynne’s Twitter account: @lynneintoronto