Sunday 19 April 2020

Nerd Church - Oliver Queen, You Have Saved This Girl's Life

(Warning: this post discusses Depression and low self-esteem/self-worth, as well as referencing suicidal thoughts and feelings.)

Oliver Queen, you have saved this girl’s life.

People who’ve read this blog before will be aware that I credit a lot of things for saving my life – from fanfiction to meds, from blogging to Fall Out Boy. With what feels like millions of other things in between.

'Oliver Queen, You Have Saved This Girl's Life' with a green background and white arrow shapes

I mean all of it. Completely.

When Depression sinks it’s teeth in so deep that you think you are the worst creature to ever draw breath – that, in fact, you’re probably hogging oxygen from someone who deserves to breathe it more – you need more than just one thing to rescue you.

One of these days, I’ll have to list all of the things that’ve kept me on this earth. That have allowed, and keep allowing, me to survive.

Of all the things on that list though, some would be underlined, with little hearts around them.

The TV series Arrow is one of those things. Oliver Queen is one of those things.

Every time I’ve tried to write this post in the past (over the last couple of years, actually – I’ve been trying to find the words to say this for a while!) I’ve had to stop. Because it never seems to really, truly, explain what I want it to explain. It never seems right.

The only time I even came close to starting to say what I wanted to say, my computer died and took the file along with it. No backup.

Which kind of felt like a sign – maybe I wasn’t ready to write it then. Maybe whoever out there who needs to read it wasn’t ready, yet. Maybe I’ve inherited too much hippie-thinking from my parents.

Whatever, I’m going to try to write this now. Now that the very last ever episode of Arrow has finally – finally – been aired in the UK.

And maybe this will end up as just another failed attempt to explain how a man in a green hood saved my life, and helped me live again. Or maybe not.

However this turned out, I hope you get something out of reading it.

Dear Oliver Queen,

You don’t know me. But you saved my life. 

Not from a villain or a natural disaster or some kind of weird-a** cataclysmic event. But you saved me.

You made it OK for me to be vulnerable. You made it OK for me to ask for help.

You spent five years on an island. (And if that’s not a metaphor, then nothing is.) 

Lian Yu was purgatory, but it was also hell. It made you alone, even when you were among other people.

You changed – and no-one knew. They expected you to be someone you hadn’t been in a long time. Someone you weren't.

So you let them think you were, for a while. And they didn’t know that the mask you wore wasn’t your superhero costume – it was your ‘Oliver Queen’ outfit.

Stephen Amell playing with a Green Arrow toy
...I had to lighten the tone somehow! 😅

Via Giphy

But slowly – so slowly – you let other people in. You let other people see you – see who you are. 

You expected them to run, I think, to be repulsed. Some were. Others weren’t. You let other people in on some of what you'd been through - on your life. 

Hesitantly, stubbornly, sure – but since when was anything easy?

And if Oliver Queen can accept help? Maybe I could too.

That’s what I tell myself sometimes – y’know? 

When my mental health gets really bad, when I’m so far from OK that I can’t even see OK any more, when I’m hesitating to go to people for help… I remember that Oliver Queen can accept help.

Maybe not easily, but he does it. And Oliver Queen is not weak. 

Oliver Queen is strong – the one who stands between innocence and danger with a bow and arrow, and no super-powers.

It was you that let me work to allow myself to be vulnerable.

I always felt like you understood what it was to hold the weight of the world on your shoulders – even when no-one else expected you to carry it. 

I felt like you understood what it was like to blame yourself for not being able to protect the people you love, even when there was nothing you could have done.

I felt like you understood what it was like to be lost in the dark. To not know, exactly, who you were meant to be, but trying so hard to be someone other people could be proud of.

So as you walked out of the dark – or tried to – I did too. 

I followed you. 

Because you believed in justice and love and peace – even if you didn’t believe that you would ever have those things for yourself. You believed in giving other people what you always felt was beyond your grasp.

Despite everything, you believed in love and compassion and hope.

(I’ve managed to write hundreds of words without saying anything. I guess that’s just how it goes when you’re trying to articulate something that feels like a squidgy blob in your heart!)

Oliver Queen notching and shooting an arrow
Via Giphy

What I wanna say to you is thank you. 

Thank you, Oliver Queen, for showing me that you can survive despite the odds (not forever - we aren't immortal, but you know what I mean!)

Thank you for showing me that even when you feel unworthy, you can be an amazing person – a good person.

Thank you for being there when I needed you.

Thank you for showing strength in allowing yourself to be vulnerable, if only sometimes. 

Thank you for showing me that you can survive even the toughest of times – although I’m happy to say my toughest of times were never as dramatic and awful as yours!

(Still, I think we could all do with a reminder of how resilient we can be, especially at the moment.)

Thank you for showing that we can make it through, even when things are at their bleakest. We can survive. 

(Again, I am aware that the thing about life is no-one get's out alive, but you survived and lived after so much bad sh**!)

Thank you for being pragmatic – the world can be hard and cruel, and we often have to do things that we wish we didn’t.

Thank you for introducing me to the character of Sara Lance – one of the first women I allowed myself to admit I was (and still am) attracted to. 

Thank you for accepting Sara. For letting her stand as the strong Queer woman I needed, when I needed her.

Thank you for believing in redemption – even if I was never a bad person, I believed I was. 

I believed I was the least worthy person on this planet. 

I needed to hear that there was hope for people who felt less-than.

Green Arrow (Oliver Queen as played by Stephen Amell) and The Flash (Barry Allen as played by Grant Gustin) walking down the street leaning on each other
Via Giphy

You gave me that. 

You also showed me that our views of ourselves aren’t always accurate – that you somehow thought you weren’t a hero, weren’t good enough, when you so clearly were. 

No-one is stronger and worthier than the man who did so much while expecting so little in return.

Thank you for being my strength when I needed you to be. 

Thank you for being the crutch I leant on to push thoughts of death away – if you could push through Lian Yu, then I could survive too.

(I know you’re fictional – but that doesn’t mean you’re not true and strong and inspiring.) 

If you could let people help you – even if only a little – then so could I.

Because I didn’t think I deserved help from anyone for anything. 

I mean like, I felt guilty when people opened doors for me, or made me a cup of coffee. I felt like they were performing some grand act of mercy for someone they shouldn’t have noticed – or should have hated. 

But you let Diggle help you, and Felicity, and Thea, and Barry, and so many other people. If Oliver Queen can learn to trust, to accept love and help, then so can I, right?


...I don’t know whether I’ve managed to say, even now, what I wanted to say. Expressed my gratitude as much as much as I wanted.

But on the off-chance anyone involved in making Arrow happens to stumble across this post (the Internet is a big and strange place after all,) thank you – your work matters. It really does.

And I hope, dearest nerdlets, that this has been worth something for you, too.

Need help, or just need to talk?:

International readers can check for helplines in this directory, and readers in the UK and ROI can get in contact with The Samaritans to talk about anything at all.

Phew! This post was difficult to write. Take care everyone!

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  1. Cee, this was a beautiful post! I totally relate to different forms of media helping me through my darkest times. It is so amazing that you have been able to connect to a show so much. I hope someone from Arrow sees this! <3

    1. Thank you so much! I was so nervous about this post - still kind of am tbh!

      I just hope everyone who's worked on the show realises that their work is important - even if to some people it's 'just' a superhero show <3

  2. It is truly amazing how art can influence and help people. I love that you've benefited so incredibly from this show. (And you make me want to watch it now too!)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I hope that if you do watch it, you end up loving it! <3


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