Thank You, Corey Feldman

I know I tell sci-fi stories but I think I want to take today’s blog post to talk about something else. Watching Corey Feldman on the Today Show, I can think of no better reason as to why I have no interest in being famous for writing. Some folks have told me that I have to ‘get my name out there,’ in order to make a career out of writing.

“Corey’s got his name out there,” I say. “How’s that working for him?”

I feel bad for the guy. Corey Feldman is building his life all over again. If you’ve never had to pivot your entire life before, it’s hard to understand what a confusing and dehumanizing process that can be. Worse, yet … he’s doing it in the public eye. All of his false starts, faux pas and stumbles are there for public consumption. To be honest, I fear for the guy’s safety, success and sobriety.

Whenever you see a story like: ‘Corey Feldman is BACK with another bizarre Today Show performance,‘ you should know that you aren’t looking at a performance piece. As is common for other abuse survivors, Corey’s struggling with his baggage and embodies one of the painful truths about overcoming your past. Don’t understand what I mean? Let me explain:

Check out Dylan Farrow’s story about the abuse she suffered by Woody Allen. She explains one thing about abuse survival that few understand, and even fewer will talk about. There’s a three-stage process to abuse, whether it is sexual, emotional, or physical. First, you experience the abuse. Next, you experience the abuse of not being believed when you talk about your horror. Finally, you suffer the abuse of watching your abuser move forward with their life while you struggle to pick up the pieces of yours. This isn’t just my story, it’s Rose McGowan’s story. It’s Corey Haim’s story. No doubt, it’s Brad Renfro’s story, too.

The media dislikes complicated stories, so rather than explaining any of this, they keep trying to paint Corey Feldman as Charlie Sheen 2.0. It’s awful. Look, as clumsy and haphazard as his TV appearances are, at least he’s not trying to walk around like a professional victim. He’s trying to make something new, he’s trying to move on. Why is everyone pointing and laughing? Would you do that to Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard? 

The media’s smug indifference to Corey’s past is horrifying, but not uncommon. It makes it hard to talk about abuse and harder to recover from it. Make no mistake: abuse hurts long after the news cycle ends, no matter what kind it is. You’ll live with its effects for the rest of your life and sometimes the only thing you can do is let the cycle end with you.

How does abuse hurt? I was reading the comments of a rape and child sexual abuse victim and she puts it this way:

If you abuse a child, you have probably ruined his or her life. Alcoholism and self abuse would be the most positive outcomes for that person. Perpetuation of abuse and absolute sociopathy are more likely … For a “survivor,” relationships almost impossible to form and even harder to maintain. Because there is no such thing as trust. There’s no greater trust than the trust that a little girl (or boy) has in her parent(s). When a parent violates her, mentally and physically, her security vanishes. All bets are off for the rest of her life.

Seen through that lens, Corey Feldman’s behavior becomes obvious: he’s messed up. But rather than wallowing in his damage, he’s literally trying to prove this person wrong. He’s trying to re-establish a relationship with the entertainment community that looked the other way while he was being raped. He’s trying to rebuild trust with the public that doesn’t understand his difficult circumstances. He’s doing all of this while struggling with a TON of personal baggage. And yet, for all of those good intentions, he’s just getting the back of the hand from the media.

This is the world people think I’m supposed to play in, as a writer.

Well thanks, but no thanks. A wise man can learn from other people’s mistakes, as the saying goes. I’m looking at the wasteland Corey Feldman is attempting to navigate and, although I respect him for his bravery, I have no intention of following him. My hope is that one day his story will find a happy ending. It takes guts for Corey Feldman to try and reclaim his life. He says he has a creative gift to share, who are we to stand in his way?

That’s not to say that I agree with every choice he’s made or everything he makes. That’s not to say that there won’t be those times when we have to shake our head and go “bro … that’s not the way.” I’m simply suggesting that we stop seeing him as a punchline and start seeing him as a person who’s trying. He didn’t self-destruct like Corey Haim, or Brad Renfro. You can’t help but respect him for that.

Meanwhile, thank you, Corey. Thank you for helping to explain why I will remain gratefully and permanently obscure. I don’t need this headache, I don’t need more drama, and I don’t need the agita. Any time someone suggests that I need to do more to ‘get my name out there,’ I can point to you and say “I’m not putting myself through that.” I’m rebuilding my life one step at a time and that’s hard enough. Thank you.