Monday, 5 December 2016

Fantastic Besties (and Where to Find Them)

I am a massive Potterhead. I am part of the generation who grew up with Harry Potter, who eagerly awaited each new books release. I cried when I watched the last film, was one of the first people in the world to see The Cursed Child and I have Harry Potter merchandise scattered around my bedroom. To say that I am a fan is an understatement, Harry Potter is part of who I am, and it makes up my very essence as a person.

Naturally, like many Potter fans, I was very excited when Fantastic Beasts was announced so much so that months in advance I made plans with my three best friends Chelle, Ray and Faye to go and see the film, however this wouldn’t be a normal outing.

Those who have followed my journey here on Safe Space will know that I’ve been making massive progress with my agoraphobia, PTSD and anxiety this past year and I decided that I wanted to tackle my biggest challenge yet: going to the area where my abusive ex lives to go to the cinema and watch Fantastic Beasts. I haven't set foot in this part of town for years and I finally felt like I was ready to tackle my biggest demon.

And then, the Johnny Depp casting news was announced.

For some Potter fans, this was nothing more than a distasteful choice (if problematic to them at all) but when I read the news I actually broke down in tears. You see, Harry Potter has always been a safe space for me. It was also a massive source of comfort to me when I came out of the abusive relationship. When I was bruised and broken it gave me the strength to get up and fight and restored my faith in humanity. So Johnny Depp, a known abuser, being cast felt like a massive betrayal to me, I felt so let down and for a time I felt lost. I made the personal choice to not support this part of the Wizarding World and cancelled my plans to see this film telling my friends to go and see it without me. That was when something unexpected happened.

I woke up to a message saying that they’d been talking and they would rather not see the film and see me instead, a decision that I found incredibly moving. So on the 20th November, the day that we were supposed to go and see Fantastic Beasts, we got together and went for a meal at a pub right next to the cinema so that I could still face my biggest trigger with them by my side.

Looking back I still can’t quite believe that I did it, especially because I was so incredibly anxious that morning but my girls got me through. Over the past year I have faced so many of my demons and they have been by my side every step of the way. They are my Harry, Ron and Hermione not letting me face the darkness alone. They are the tribe that I dreamed of someday finding ever since I was a little girl who learnt what true friendship is from these books.

Magic aside, at the core of Harry Potter is the message of standing up for what you believe to be right, which is something that I feel like I did that day for the women and men in the world who live in fear of their abusers, but also for myself. I took a stand that said this is not okay, I am not supporting that and did something for myself instead and my friends cared about me enough to support me in my decision. Forget Fantastic Beasts, I have fantastic friends and they can be found by my side, always.

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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.