What Happens When You Marry Han Solo
Luke Skywalker was cute as Hell and I almost put a picture of him on my bedroom wall amidst all the other pictures I had cut from magazines in my youth. In my middle-age reflections I realize I had assembled a collage of disturbed men, including Steven Collins during his stint on the 1982 adventure show, “Tales of the Gold Monkey” and Gerald McRaney, from the American television detective series, “Simon & Simon” which ran 1981-95. However, none of those heroes could hold a candle to Han Solo.
I see these figures now as my early training towards “love”–with psychopaths, sociopaths, and malignant narcissists. Han Solo was devilishly handsome and lived outside the universe of acceptable behavior … I mean outside the entire universe. Not even the dregs of universal society liked him. But, Han got the princess and young girls like me were groomed to believe that underneath that roguish behavior beat a heart of gold, the best sex we could ever have, and our soulmate. Does anyone else find this utterly disturbing in 2016?
After recently watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, the latest addition to the franchise—I realize I am continuing the love affair that began in 1977 when the original film hit the big screen. Today, however, it did not surprise me that things didn’t end up happily ever after between Han and Leia. I was seven when the first “Star Wars” came out and, with the help of my father, I ditched school to see “The Empire Strikes Back”. In the years afterward the amount of time I spent staring into space and fantasizing about Han Solo was in direct proportion to how much time I needed to pretend my father was not unhealthily obsessed with his only daughter. I stole issues of his “Playboy” so I could cut out pictures of Han Solo to further cement in my psyche that sociopaths are who I should aspire to bed, wed, and procreate with. Why “Playboy”? It was the magazine that littered my father’s one-bedroom apartment and what he regularly threw on the coffee table in front of me with a pious comment like, “This is what real women look like.” I don’t cook (maybe on purpose), but I know this was a recipe for disaster.
In fact, I married my Han Solo. He was sixteen years older than me and, at my tender age of eighteen, rushing into a relationship with a 35-year-old man seemed like a wonderful idea. The fact that I was pregnant three months into our relationship and felt I deserved so little from men that I skipped out on birth control to try and secure him was simply the icing on the cake. It didn’t matter; I was already pregnant before that bright idea sprang forth.
“Daniel” was a charming scoundrel with the FBI on his tail and a trail of broken relationships, money problems, health issues, drug addiction, and “accidents” to his name—but he loved me. He was the ultimate scoundrel and I was his princess. Sadly, he did not come equipped with a furry Chewbacca dispensing sage advice that hardly anyone can understand. Did Chewbacca also have a wife and children? What were they doing while he was traipsing around the galaxy with his good buddy, Han?
After my credit was ruined, I had gone bankrupt with Daniel before the age of twenty-four, and was about to embark on single parenthood, I became the main attraction for every malignant narcissist, sycophant, sociopath, and psychopath within a 10-mile radius (quite a few of them from Daniel’s own family), I finally divorced my Han Solo. He wasn’t out saving the universe in death-defying and heroic ways. He was having an affair with one of my girlfriends and eventually stole thousands of dollars from his employer. For a few years he lived under an assumed name in a foreign country. On the rare occasions I did receive child support he mailed gold nuggets placed in a film canister that he got from blowing up mines and soul-searching in the wilds of British Columbia. The exchange rate netted me about $600. The parallels are there, folks. I don’t need to spell it out for you.
Does it surprise me that the child of Han Solo and Princess Leia turns out to be a psychopath that kills his own father? Not in the least. Does it surprise me that the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia has been glamorized across planet earth for decades? Not in the least.
Han Solo is not my dream man anymore. It has taken years of therapy and a lot of bad decisions to get here. A few of those years I could have settled for a Jabba the Hutt, but I did not. It was important for me to deglamorize deplorable men even if my first example of what a man is would send me on a journey of deprogramming that will probably last my lifetime. You see Daniel and I had a son. Somewhere in the back of my mind I hung on to the idea of not wanting to punish my only child for being a male. The amount of work it would take to pull away from what had seemed like normal male behavior was enormous. Even when one is raised with wolves in sheep’s clothing (no offense to actual wolves) somewhere I knew I did not want my son to follow in either of our father’s footsteps.
I am the one who introduced “Star Wars” to my son. He is now in his middle twenties and wanted to see the newest “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with his mother. We had a good time and, now at age forty-five, I have a very different opinion of Han Solo. I hope the Leias of the world grow up to realize they deserve so much better. Some of them do. You can be a princess, a mother, an Admiral commanding half of the galaxy all on your own or do this with a wonderful, strong, non-sociopathic partner.
Is our son doomed to become like his father, or worse? Real life is the deglamorized version of every parable ever turned into a movie. My son–so far so good–has sought counseling as an adult–knows exactly what a sociopath is, and, while he loves his father very much, is not living a duplicate life. Han Solo does not age well, no sociopath ever does. Some end up being financially supported by one of their princesses, hardly able to walk, and live life as a hermit. They don’t get their second act, like Luke Skywalker. Too many lives were destroyed in the wake of their disorder and, finally, they are powerless to do anything but exactly what Admiral Leia Organa is still willing to put up with in the name of, “He’s the father of my only child.”
Our son is not a psychopath but he did “kill” those fatherly traits he could have easily adopted. He’ll live with how he had to do this for the rest of his life. He will also wrestle with loving his father with every beat of his heart while resisting the often easy road of becoming the exact opposite just to prove he is not, “Like father, like son.” I admire him for it, but neither he nor his father live in a galaxy far, far away, and I am a proud and recovered Princess Leia.
“Kristin Walker skillfully writes an excellent article comparing and contrasting Star Wars characters with those on the spectrum of narcissism ranging up to extreme narcissism, in the form of psychopathy. So often in Hollywood productions, we see characters exhibiting narcissistic tendencies in the plot-line, if not full blown psychopathy. Kristin highlights the importance of learning from movie characters how individuals have choice with whom they choose to engage in a relationship. Although Han Solo may look like that guy with swagger and perhaps a knight in shining armor, he is far from perfect, and certainly let down Princess Leia with his self-absorbed tendencies. Although a beloved character to many, Han Solo definitely can fit the profile of someone who might look like a Casanova, somatic narcissist. We certainly don’t wish him the ending he got in the most recent film, but it is telling that his son wrestles with ego as well, and ultimately is the undoing of Han.” – Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW and author of Soul Vampires: Reclaiming Your Lifeblood After Narcissistic Abuse.