I didn’t deserve Princeton, so I would take a transcript full of A’s and trash it by not doing the required course work. I believed that the hockey coach who recruited me at Princeton was Graham’s “contact”, and threw away any chance of success in the program through any number of self-sabotaging ways. Still I managed to get into the University of Toronto Law School, but of course the same pattern repeated itself. I played hockey for the U of T Varsity Blues, but without the contacts I needed. I managed to secure a position as a summer and articling student at Torys, one of the country’s leading law firms, only to guarantee no hire back by skipping assignments in the midst of reviews of my work stating I was among the best students the firm had ever had.
Repeatedly, the innocent fourteen year-old pre-Graham boy could open doors to the most prestigious of institutions. Repeatedly, the post-Graham young man could shut them just as quickly. And not just shut them, but trash them. Burn bridges. Alienate those who had once supported him.
This cycle of stealing defeat from the jaws of victory has played out throughout my professional career, in my personal relationships, during my marriage, and with my friendships. I abused my body and in my self-loathing put on weight. Everything that I ever had that was good in my life I have broken. Everything.
I don’t belong here. I don’t deserve this. I am a fraud. What you think you see isn’t real. The real me is a failure. I’ll show you failure. I don’t deserve to live.
Fortunately I was a failure at that too.
Except now I have come forward. I am getting help. I am in therapy. I am getting proper care and treatment. I have reconnected with my mother, brother, and sister. My daughter is a shining light in my life, while my former stepson shines too from a distance. I have support. I have begun reconnecting with friends who ask no questions, who forgive me for dropping out of their lives. I held my last job for almost six years in the midst of much upheaval, leaving at my suggestion to take time to deal with this situation. I will continue to get better, and the past will no longer define who I am. But the past will always be there, a part of that tapestry of life.
I am not to proud to admit that I know that I will need help going forward, as that is the true legacy of his actions. I will need the understanding and help of family, friends, and supporters to continue to get through this.
But I can now answer those questions he left with me, I can say the words, and I have begun to start living the answers, not just saying them.
I was a victim. It wasn’t my fault. I’m not responsible for what he did to Todd or Theo or Sheldon. I deserved Princeton, and deserved whatever success I had there. I deserved the UofT law school and the Varsity Blues. I deserved Torys. I deserved to be General Counsel at CanWest. I deserved to be General Counsel at Cookie Jar Entertainment. I deserved to be married, to have a wonderful daughter and to parent a wonderful son. I deserve my friends. I deserve to be healthy and in-shape again.
I deserve a good life with a happy ending.
And all of that is good. But I was reminded again just last night that until they invent a pill that allows you to control your own dreams and nightmares, you never know when the horrors will reappear. When it comes to considering the impact on a victim when sentencing Graham, I urge everyone to take a moment to think about that - the horror never, ever. goes away.
Note - Charges with respect to this abuse were stayed by the Crown as part of the proceedings in which Graham agreed to plea guilty to abusing Todd Holt and Theo Fleury, the Crown desiring a timely resolution to this matter while avoiding a trial.