Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer landed last night and I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve watched it. I’ve also cried almost every single time. I am overcome with a lot of emotions, and I guess that may seem really silly to people who just think of it as a movie–but Star Wars has never been just movies or books to me (or a lot of people like me). 

Star Wars saved me when I was a little girl. It has always been a place of refuge. It was a world I ran to when home didn’t feel like home. 

I don’t like talking much about it, though I have tried opening up about it as I’ve gotten older. I love my parents and I loved my daddy more than I could ever explain, but when I was very little my father was an alcoholic and he was a mean drunk. My mom, in turn, could be a mean drunk when he was being one and together they were two very mean drunks battling it out like kaiju in the living room.

I have few memories of childhood, and, of those memories, I have few good ones I can recall with as much clarity as I can how many times I watched Star Wars–especially Return of the Jedi–and played outside, pretending to be on some far-off adventure with Luke Skywalker. He was my imaginary friend and my first crush. 

I’ve always been an odd one. I had one friend in elementary school and she was only allowed to play with me on certain days because of another friend she had. Eventually, I didn’t have her at all. I was too strange, and while I didn’t know it at the time, she later told me she ran away from me whenever I was around because she thought I was weird. I wasn’t weird (okay maybe I was a little weird), I was just too imaginative for the people around me. I dreamed too big, too grand, too bright. I found it hard to make friends. I was bullied often and I never, ever felt like I fit anywhere or had a voice. But I felt like I belonged in the world of Star Wars. I was brave there. I was a hero and a champion of the weak, and it hurt so much that I couldn’t just disappear from this world and emerge in that one. 

A dysfunctional home life, coupled with being an outsider at school, created a depressed 6 to 10-year-old. Star Wars gave a very sad and lonely child a happy place to run for adventure and safety and fun. Star Wars saved me.

Eventually, I turned the adventures I went on in my head into stories and I told those stories to the few friends I made in middle school. I’d sit on the bleachers during PE and recount them as dreams that I had the night before and I loved how interested and excited they got to hear them, and the fact they looked forward to them the next day. I learned to tame my weirdness, to channel it into stories. Now, I tell stories to people for a living (though, not entirely for a living but maybe one day!). 

So, as I sat and watched The Rise of Skywalker trailer, knowing it brings to close the saga that saved the little girl I was, I sobbed. I remembered all the adventures I went on, all the trials and struggles and stories that kept me from fading away at such a young age, and knew part of me was ending with The Rise of Skywalker. The little girl didn’t need it to be happy anymore, because she’d finally found her own adventure. For some strange reason, it hadn’t dawned on me until now. I knew I was the happiest I’d ever been, but I didn’t realize how much Star Wars really, truly shaped the life I’d built. 

Confronting fear is the destiny of the Jedi. Your destiny. The saga ends, but the story lives forever. The Force will be with you, always.

Star Wars & Me: How A Saga Saved A Little Girl
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