'Temple' by Colin Anderson


 

Trigger Warning: Nudity, Sexual Abuse/Assault, Violence


 

by Colin M. Anderson


A lot has changed since the last time we spoke. The world as we know it has underwent a massive shift, and during that time, I personally have experienced a period of deep introspection, purging, and healing.


My journey up to this point in my life has been long. There’s been laughter, joy, accomplishments, wins, and successes; but those positive outcomes have also been met with challenges, heartache, struggle, and often times left in a place of survival. Navigating this earthly world has often felt like an uphill battle, with no end in sight to the finish line. For every dream that’s been fulfilled, there’s been 10 more that have felt like failures.




 
"I grew up feeling alone and isolated. Not because I actually was, but more so alone spiritually and mentally trying to stand firm on my own identity."
 


 

At the age of 19, I fled my hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma like a fugitive, trying to escape the constraints and projections that had been placed upon me my entire life. I grew up feeling alone and isolated. Not because I actually was, but more so alone spiritually and mentally trying to stand firm on my own identity. My identity, as personal as it may be, was always up for debate. Growing up in a religious home in the Midwestern Bible Belt, a preachers kid, my aura and being was always scrutinized. Being gay was outwardly frowned upon. From the church pulpit, to the dinner table, to the private Christian school I attended, the basis of who I was, was constantly up for debate and ridiculed no matter what space I was in. I lived in a constant state of fear, and a perpetual state of continuously diminishing myself to fit the mold that was laid out for me to follow.


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At the age of 8 years old, I was sexually molested by a close family member, repeatedly. My mind has protected me from remembering how many times, or how long it went on, and my memory of the events is often fragmented, receiving flashbacks from different occasions at random without warning. At the time, I was threatened to keep silent, and I did. At such a young age, you aren’t sure exactly of what’s going on, but you know it’s wrong.


After sometime, the truth came to light, and my abuser was exposed. Unfortunately in this case, that’s where the true hell began. My “therapy” came in the form of punishment. I profoundly remember being sat down against my will in my parents bathroom, and undergoing hours upon hours of “deliverance”, in other words, getting the demons cast out of you. I lost count of how many times I was in these sessions, renouncing the homosexuality out of my body, praying that God would save my soul, and deliver me from the satanic “sodomization” that had infiltrated my body according to my religious family. I remember constantly sitting in silence. Instead of being seen as a victim who was preyed upon, my existence was suddenly vilified and demonized. At times, it felt as if it would have been easier if no one would have found out, because at least then what had happened to me wouldn’t be used against me to try and explain my identity.


 
"I was the same Colin before and after the trauma that my body endured."
 


I was the same Colin before and after the trauma that my body endured. But suddenly, the same mannerisms and interests that I had, became “gay” and wrong. I constantly felt like I was being watched. My father would correct the way I would hold my books, the way I walked, the way I talked. It was obvious that I was different, and I felt ashamed for it. All of the special qualities and talents that I was interested in, were suddenly seen as questionable and defiant. It felt like my abuser got a get of jail free card, meanwhile, my punishment for something out of my control, was lasting a lifetime, constantly being isolated and told who you are as a person, is wrong. The guilt and shame lingers. I remained trapped for over a decade, hiding my pain, and brushing my wounds under the rug. It’s a constant feeling that lingers in the back of your mind making you feel unworthy, ashamed, and discarded. It’s a complex feeling. On one hand, there’s a small inner voice guiding you, reminding you exactly of who you are. On the other, there’s years of projections, trauma, and outdated generational ideals being placed upon you telling you that you are vile and unlovable. Your mind can become a constant battlefield filled with turmoil with ones self. The self hate and embarrassment at times felt like it was too much to bare.

 

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"Through it all, I was always able to rely on my inner voice to let me know that I was ok, and that I was going to make it, no matter what the circumstance or people around me looked like."
 


 


Through it all, I was always able to rely on my inner voice to let me know that I was ok, and that I was going to make it, no matter what the circumstance or people around me looked like. At the age of 19, after moving to New York City, I finally began to spread my wings and find my footing without outside opinions and paths being forced upon me.


My first serious relationship lasted 6 years. It took me 3 years in, nearly 15 years later, to tell my partner at the time, what I had gone through as a child. He was the first person I had ever told.


After living so many years of constantly being told you are wrong, at times you begin to believe it. The after effects of unresolved sexual trauma can last years, decades, or a lifetime. In my case, my mind many times has shut off, removing itself from certain situations as coping mechanisms to keep me safe. Whether you realize it or not, these lingering traumas can influence future decision making, actions, how you carry yourself, how you view yourself, self-esteem, self-worth, the list goes on. My trauma has plagued my mental state, and the core of my being for nearly my entire life. Even after 6 years in a committed loving relationship, my intimacy was plagued by feeling unsafe and insecurity. The guilt that would arise after intimacy from the years of programming, you start to believe.



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"At some point, the pain of diminishing & disapproving of myself became too much. It felt like a life or death decision. To let this pain and fear swallow me, or face it head on."
 


 

In my mid-twenties, I went through some type of sexual awakening. I had had enough. At some point, the pain of diminishing and disapproving of myself, became too much. It felt like a life or death decision. To let this pain and fear swallow me, or face it head on.


To many, it looked like I had lost all control. I embraced my body, my sexuality, and my skin 100% without regret. It was liberating, and also extremely painful. It was almost an immediate switch from feeling ashamed, to feeling in control and in the drivers seat for once in my life. Along with my celebration of self, came the backlash and misunderstanding of what I was doing and going through. Suddenly, I was losing jobs, friends, and connections because of my unashamed embrace of self. It was a double edged sword. On one hand, I finally felt free, and on the other, I became isolated once again, as being labeled “out of control” “reckless” and obscene. Family would leave me text messages explaining my path to hell, people who were no longer in my life suddenly had an opinion on what I chose to do with my body, and almost everyone around me told me I was throwing away my career. Yet deep inside, it felt like a paradigm shift happening inside of me that I couldn’t go without addressing. My entire life my sexuality had been used as a pawn against me, and now I could finally own it.



 

'TEMPLE' short film by Olivier Lessard, exclusively on www.riskrestricted.com

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"Reclaiming my power and showing my body publicly, people often times assume ownership over your body."
 

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My form of expression was for me. It was the first time in my life I was able to own my power without remorse. Yet as freeing as my newfound confidence was, I constantly began to live in a state of feeling misunderstood. I walked the line of creating both artistic and arousing images, that allowed me to be and feel expressive, within the safety of my own parameters, and being in control. My expression often was mistaken for easiness and promiscuous behavior, often attracting those who have ill intentions.


Reclaiming my power and showing my body publicly, people often times assume ownership over your body. I chose to face my sexuality head on to overcome my trauma, and the insecurities and blockages around my identity, yet was faced with more traumatic events from abusers looking to exploit that same power.



A few years ago, I received advances for months, from someone in the “industry” who wanted to get to know me. Due to my past and keen intuition, I tend to be guarded and closed off to many romantic or sexual connections out of hurt and fear. The person I was speaking to, even sensed my reluctance, and promised “they wouldn’t hurt me”. After being chased for multiple weeks on several occasions, and being emotionally manipulated into letting my guard down, I relaxed into the possibility of enjoying a new connection. On our 3rd time seeing each other, things turned intimate again. After a very brief few minutes in, I was suddenly forcibly flipped over, with my body pinned into the bed, as if my face was unbearable to be seen. In that moment, I felt invisible, with my body gone limp. After an uncomfortable and violent experience, what started as a consensual act, ended with me feeling used, and physically bleeding. In the moment, I couldn’t even process what had just happened to me. How did I end up here? My immediate reaction was to brush off what had just happened. Maybe I was overreacting? Maybe things just got heated. The following day after a few brief words of being gaslit about the connection/scenario and what it was, the person immediately lost all contact with me. No one had taught me a course on something like this happening. This experience was different from my childhood trauma.


The pain was triggering and alarming. I look back now and realize unfortunately how used to pain I was. When you’ve endured and survived sexual assault or traumas, it can become routine to being treated less than, and often times accepting things you shouldn’t. Being violated can become commonplace, and often times is confused for love when that’s been your example of intimacy throughout your life.


After a few weeks of deep pain, and still not fully recognizing the magnitude of what I had just gone through, I managed to pull myself back together and keep going. I was alive and functioning, but with one more open wound, unhealed, sent back out into the world.


 

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"Though I thought I wanted to experience love, my mind was unable to process and accept the genuine outpouring of love I was receiving due to the enormous amounts of pain I subconsciously was still holding onto."
 

In March of 2020, I fell in love, whether I realized it at the time or not. It was joyous, and also extremely painful. It’s as if every single trauma I’d ever endured in my life was pushed to the forefront with a spotlight on it, making me extremely uncomfortable and unsure of what was going on. Little did I know the same experience was happening to the one I fell in love with. Issues and wounds that I thought were long gone and addressed, resurfaced with a new weight and magnitude. The love being poured out and shown to me, I was unable to feel or receive, due to my unresolved trauma and blockages, self sabotaging the good that was trying to come in. At the time, I couldn’t make sense of it, and forcibly ended the connection out of insecurity. Though I thought I wanted to experience love, my mind was unable to process and accept the genuine outpouring of love I was receiving due to the enormous amounts of pain I subconsciously was still holding onto.




Months shortly after the breakup, I hit a wall. My body had endured enough. It’s as if my body physically gave out on me, and forcibly sat me down to address the internal work that had been festering inside of me my entire life. It felt as if I died. Not physically, but in a spiritual sense. Everything I had ever known or been taught, came unraveling before my eyes: processing my childhood trauma, unpacking religious shame, taking accountability for mistakes I’ve made, failures, challenges, and so on. It was a rebirth. Several months went by of barely being able to go an hour without having major emotional breakdowns and uncontrollable sobbing. The depths of my pain, shame, and rejection were far deeper than I had ever imagined. I suddenly remembered details and had visions of trauma flashbacks from not only my childhood, but scenarios from adulthood that were also in fact traumatizing and abusive, whether I realized it at the time or not. I spent a majority of my days for several months on end, coaching and nurturing my inner abused child. I was no longer numb to my pain, and actually walking through it.


 
"An inner-peace that I’ve never known finally washed over me, and let me know that everything would be ok."
 

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I re-emerged feeling exhausted but also relieved. The same shame that I had been trying to break free from my entire life, was finally gone. An inner-peace that I’ve never known finally washed over me, and let me know that everything would be ok.


It’s been exactly 20 years since my first time being exploited, and this last year has been the first time I’ve been able to openly talk about almost any of it. Letting go of that weight has been the most rewarding and painful experience of my life. Revisiting those dark places of yourself to try and heal them has been no easy feat, the same reason why I have subconsciously avoided those feelings and pain for so long.


 
"The one thing I’ve never doubted, is who I am."
 


I’m a human being who’s made more mistakes than I can possibly count or remember. I try my hardest, and sometimes fail. But the one thing I’ve never doubted, is who I am. I haven’t always been able to show it, or known how to express it, but deep down inside of me, I have always known. Nearly the entire world preaches that we are all gifted and unique individuals, with our own special qualities, talents and capabilities. Yet so much of the time, those exact same people will try to place you in a box of what you can do, and who you are.




 
"I’m finally confident in the fact that my mind, body and soul were divinely created with purpose and healing energy."
 

The path I have taken to explore and find myself has been fulfilling, painful, and eye opening. Learning to embrace myself has been the fight of my life, no matter how confident or bold I have made it look. I have finally learned the importance of boundaries, something that was continuously violated my entire life. I have accepted the fact that I can be both strong and delicate, bold and soft. I stand strong in expressing myself and my body, while also respecting myself and my vessel. I have learned to extend myself grace for situations in the past where I haven’t seen or known my own worth. I move forward with a powerful sense of my own identity, free of outside opinions or projections, and an indestructible sense of self-worth that cannot be shaken whether others may see it or not. I’m finally confident in the fact that my mind, body and soul were divinely created with purpose and healing energy. This is my temple.



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In a Risk Magazine Exclusive, Colin Anderson stars in 'Temple' photographed by Oshen Studio, editorial film by Olivier Lessard. Wearing pieces by The Love Shell, Grete Henriette, Atavus Couture, Sho Konishi, The Dancers Dowry, & IT Spain, & Harry Halim Paris.


Model, Text, Styling, Set Design Colin Anderson

Photography Oshen Studio

Film Director Olivier Lessard

Retoucher Dmitry Galyamov

Special Thanks, Aerial Instructor Tavi Stutz


This has been a big labor love. Thank you so much to those who have supported and stuck with us over the years. I hope to continue and expand the community and vision of Risk with a renewed sense of awareness.


With Love, Colin

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