Several years ago I was speaking with a filmmaker friend of mine on the phone. We were chatting about the kinds of stories we wanted to tell; stories that inspired us; stories we were hungry to find or to write about. We agreed that stories of courage were high on the list, not just acts of bravery, but more specifically those stories where perseverance had triumphed over adversity, where individuals had surmounted obstacles that most of us would consider impossible. At that time neither of us knew what was around the corner, we were both about to meet people whose stories would change our lives forever.
Not long after, my friend was contracted to work with several teams of filmmakers building a national film archive of recorded interviews of over two thousand veterans of war. 'The Australians at War Film Archive is a collection of transcripts and filmed interviews with veterans from all the Armed Services and currently serving members of the Australian Defence Force. These veterans represent every conflict in which Australia has been involved from World War I up to and including the present day.'
My friend met with and interviewed over three hundred veterans and service men and women over the course of the project. He heard stories of the greatest tragedies and triumphs imaginable. Stories of gallantry and compassion, stories of misery and suffering, stories that helped him understand the true meaning and ramifications of war, stories that represent the best and the worst of what it means to be human. Through these stories he evolved a deeper understanding of, and compassion for the human condition and when I speak with him today I sense the change in him.
My friend was blessed to meet many inspirational souls throughout the course of his assignment. In that time, I was blessed to meet one. His name is Tim Roy. As it happens he is also a veteran of war. But in addition to this he is a survivor of ritual child abuse. Getting to know him and sharing his story has, like my friend, changed me irrevocably.
Tim's story is one of pure courage. Not only has he had the courage to fight alcohol and drug addiction, the courage to forgive himself and his past, the courage to undertake years of intense counselling and therapy he also embodies the courage to turn the negatives of pain, suffering and torment of the past into the positives of action, creativity and knowledge of the present. Tim works to build his present as a positive experience. His principle message as a writer and public speaker is underpinned with the philosophy that: suffering experienced in the past does not need to determine a life of suffering, it is not a life sentence. Today Tim does not want to be thought of as just a survivor of abuse but as a lover and 'liver' of life. Meeting him confirms this desire as much as it confirms the miracle of love.
Last year I was privileged to have the opportunity to edit his autobiography. Little Tim Big Tim traces three integral periods of his life.
The first is from 5 years of age to 15. His first account at the age of five is of his father prostituting he and his brother to a group of paedophiles practicing satanic rituals. From there he suffered rapes by his father and other paedophiles until the age of twelve or thirteen. His mother is also implicated in condoning activities and participating in others. From what he can remember his mother and father treated his brothers and sister in a similar fashion. They were not able to form relationships of any consequence as most of the time they were kept separated from each other. In addition to this they would never live in one town or suburb for too long.
As a consequence of the abuse that Tim suffered he developed Multiple Personality Disorder, today referred to as Dissociative Disorder. To help him survive the torment he subconsciously created different personas that would experience different aspects of his life. This segregation or compartmentalisation meant that different parts of him or different selves would be present or conscious at different times. Personas such as Little Tim – the child, Peter who carried pain and Shane the shame holder were created. Because of the disassociation sometimes when different selves emerged or 'came into the light' there would be no memory of important details of the past few weeks or months. This created many practical problems for him as a child, sometimes he would not remember where his family lived or in some cases how to read or write. In one instance he was sent to the principal's office at school but had no knowledge of the principal or the office and was subsequently punished for his troubles.
The second section of the book deals with an experience in the Special Air Service regiment of the Australian Army. On a covert training mission he parachuted into the desert at night. The training operation was set around the task to secrete a cache of water, food, and weapons and then hike out to the coast for extraction over 100 kilometres from the drop zone. The group's water re-supply failed and he very nearly perished from dehydration and exhaustion. This event became significant later in his army career as it compounded with other experiences to cause him to display severe psychological dysfunction and paranoia, which the army did not fail to notice. By the time Tim entered adult life he had no direct memory of his childhood. But as the psychological wheels began to fall off he was discharged and placed on a pension while undergoing psychological evaluation. This stage is concluded in the book with his descent into alcohol and drug addiction, the surfacing of childhood memories and the decision to begin a process of healing and ultimate redemption from the past.
The third section of Tim's autobiography looks at his process of recovery and healing. In this section his psychologist describes how Tim's hunger for recovery and his ability to heal is totally unique in her experience. His ability to work through the recovery of horrific memories, to integrate the split personalities and to journey into a place of health and wellbeing is nothing short of miraculous and also testament to his commitment to heal, recover and evolve.
I include here an extract from Tim's autobiography. The story is told by two of Tim's inner selves: Little Tim (the child) and Shane (the shame holder). We also meet Troy (the naughty one) who comes into being for the first time.
James and I are involved in another satanic ritual. On the drive out to the property where we are to be used as meat for the ceremony, I notice James mumbling to himself. Commanded not to talk to each other, I assume that he too has extra friends to help him through this depravity. It's interesting to observe this interaction from the other side. His voice inflections from one persona to the next are slightly different; his facial expressions change with the moods and emotions he is expressing silently to himself. His angry face and scared face show the true expression available to a little boy who is about to be violated.
The horror ride ends at a stud farm as our car, the Ford Squire station wagon pulls up next to the black and grey Jaguars and Mercedes. James loves cars and distracts himself with this phenomenal sight of the richest cars on the earth in one place. I hate rich cars and rich people; this mob is the cream of the crop. Dad is bragging how his friends that we'll meet tonight are: TV personalities, radio announcers, lawyers and judges, advertising executives and all types of business people. He seems proud to be farming his sons out to these weirdo's.
When it happens it's just another degradation. I think if I could change the reality of this I would do it in a heartbeat. The most functional way to deal with the incessant onslaught is to fall asleep when it's finished. I am bundled into the back of the car to hear some feeble attempt justifying their sick behaviour. The familiar words of 'They're only children, they will forget.'
James gets in the back and whispers in my ear,
'I spat on all their cars'.
I smile for a brief moment.
It's Saturday and I'm going to my friend Paul's party. Mum, (nice Mum) wakes me up to go shopping for his present; we buy a matchbox car as his gift. I'm wearing my best clothes and I'm allowed to walk the short distance up through the school and down the road to his house. I feel so big when Mum says I could get there by myself. The excitement of the party almost outstrips the shame I am feeling about yesterday.
It's one o'clock and I am dressed with a neatly wrapped gift under my arm. Entering the sunlight I make my way towards the party address. The party is to start at one thirty. I am the first one to arrive and I'm left in the lounge room as the occupants run around trying to finish getting ready. The doorbell rings and three of my classmates enter. We are eating chips and drinking soft drinks. The whole class arrives and I am asked to the kitchen to assist with the food.
Paul's mother asks me about my parents and what they do for a living. I confidently explain their names and occupations. She whips around and gives a stare that almost knocks me off the stool I'm sitting on, freely swinging my legs, which now freeze as words finally leave her contorted face.
'You're not a Brant are you?'
The way she screams it, I know she doesn't expect an answer, she already knows.
'You must go home now, Tim.'
I don't look at her, I know what shame is and I am feeling an abundance of it. I leave the house. As I'm at the front gate, Paul runs up to me and snatches the present I'm totally oblivious I'm still carrying, out of my hand. He starts singing a chant.
'Tim's Mummy and Dad are really sick and bad.
Tim's Mummy and Dad are really sick and bad.'
I run as fast as I can to try and drown out the incessant pitch and rhythm of his taunting. I don't stop running until I reach the abandoned building across the road from the school. We are warned never to go in there 'becauseit's dangerous'. The way I am feeling I don't care about danger, I welcome it.
To allow entry into the condemned building I boldly push past the pile of broken glass bottles that slightly obscure the bricks knocked out of the wall. Walking across broken glass, I look at my Sunday best clothes: they are filthy - more excuses for a flogging. I'm not handling this situation very well.
As I sit on the ground surrounded by litter, I think of how much shame has entered my life recently. It's an unbearable burden that I have no understanding how to relieve myself from. I want to crawl up in a ball and die. Instead, I crawl up in a ball and cry, and eventually fall asleep.
When I wake its early evening and I don't know where I am, who I am, or where I've been, or even where I live. A voice in my head keeps telling me my name is Troy and I'm a naughty boy.
'Is that my name? Troy?
As soon as I ask my question, my head answers,
No, that's my name, 'I'm Troy the naughty boy.' We/he picks up a rock and throws it, smashing a four by four foot window that already has holes in the broken glass pane.
I have no control, I or we, definitely he, is picking up rocks and smashing windows in this abandoned building where I have woken. I feel an overwhelming sense of shame flood over me. We stop throwing rocks.
'You got it? Your job is to feel and carry shame: Shane the shame carrier. Little Tim can't deal with some things so for us to survive, you have been created.'
'I'm Troy the bad boy, and there's Peter the pain holder. Little Tim decided not to be bad and has suffered enough pain, so he has friends to help him: Peter and me and now you, Shane. Your job is to experience the shame that Little Tim can't and won't handle. I will get you home and be there to give you information, as you need it.'
'It could be a bit unsettling as I usually get into trouble and you will suffer the consequences. However, I'm the only one that is available to help you out, with Little Tim in the space of many colours and Peter refusing to come out unless there is real pain. With the trouble I get you into, you will get to experience pain, so you will more than likely meet Peter.'
'Well, are you ready?' Troy asks.
'Yeah, I guess so,' Shane answers; my head is feeling relaxed that the explanation doesn't seem unusual.
'Well this is how we do it. Go to the end of the building, out through the hole where the glass bottles are piled up, through the gate in the school fence, through the school, to the right. At the end of the school, there's a set of stairs that lead to a road. Go across the road and at the next street on your right, there is our house. Big, with a green roof, number four, second house on the left. Have you got that?' Troy questions.
'No, I will need your help!' I request.
'I can help but the more time I'm around, the more trouble we are going to get into,' Troy warns.
'Well I better learn quick,' Shane announces.
I make it to our house and move to a bedroom I have never slept in. I instinctively know where it's located. The bedroom is full of packed boxes. I remember the warning from Troy and ask him to leave me alone to get used to these surroundings. With his voice in my head gone, I wait for something to happen.
A young boy comes into the bedroom.
'C'mon Tim, let's go out and play.'
I look at him stoned faced. The voice that belongs to Troy has told me my name is Shane.
'C'mon Tim, let's go and play.'
I still give him no response
'Are you sick again? I won't tell nobody, just come and play,' he pleads.
'My name is Shane,' I inform him.
He laughs. You're always changing your name. Just make sure if Mum and Dad call you Tim, you answer them. You know how mad they get when you don't answer to your name. Also, we are moving tomorrow in case you forgot. He turns at the doorway, and whispered,
'My name is James. In case you forgot.'
In our conversation I know that I am called Tim by others, and Shane by the voice in my head. Also, we are going to move which will be in my favour, because a new place will be strange to all of the family members, and I won't look lost. I guess James is my brother.
Tim's story has changed me. Little did I know when speaking to my friend about wanting to work with stories of courage that I was about to meet and befriend a man who is filled with love and courage that has the potential to inspire millions. To know Tim's story is to know the limitless possibilities of the healing power of love and courage.
If you wish to know more about Tim or you would like to read his book please feel free to visit www.timroy.com.