Almost immediately after Michael Jackson started sexually abusing me at seven years old, he proceeded to warn me that if anyone were to ever find out what “we” were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives. He then continued to explain to me that we loved each other and that this (sexual interaction) is how we show each other our love. But that people were ignorant, would not understand and would destroy us. "LOVE"/FEAR, done deal for me; I was never going to tell a soul, ever.
In 1993, when I was 11-years-old, Michael Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse by Jordan Chandler. It was a civil suit that ignited a criminal investigation. Being that I was one of Michael Jacksonʻs little boy “friends,” I also became wrapped up in the investigation. The way I first learned about it was one day out of the blue, two police officers knocked on our door. They sat me on our staircase and interrogated me as to whether Michael Jackson had ever done anything sexual to me. Michaelʻs words kept ringing in my head, if anyone were to ever find out what “we” were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives. Feeling like a criminal, terrified inside, but stoic and determined outside, I did the only thing I felt I could do to protect myself and Michael, whom I loved immensely; I lied to the police.
Amidst the same investigation, I was called to testify before a grand jury. Thinking it would be too frightening for me, my Mother wouldnʻt allow it, so Judge Lance Ito (of OJ Simpson fame) charged me with contempt of court. They placed me with a Juvenile Corrections Officer who told me I could go to jail for not complying with the courts wishes. Michaelʻs words were coming true I thought and the fear was crippling. Eventually, a deal was struck for me to testify privately in a conference room.
That deposition at 11-years-old was several hours of being grilled by California district attorneys determined to prove Michael Jacksonʻs guilt. Leading up to it, I received daily calls from Michael where he repeatedly rehearsed mock interrogations with me, training me to lie and be a soldier for his defense. There is absolutely no doubt that I was scared going into that deposition, but by that point I had learned by both direct training from and modeling of Michael Jackson, exactly how to numb and compartmentalize my feelings to enable me to put on the show I needed to for the sake of “both” of our survival. My Lawyer, paid for by Michael Jackson, said of me to my Mother after the deposition, “Iʻve never seen anything like it. Wade had them eating out of the palm of his hand.” Well, I was unfortunately trained by one of the best.
Michael Jackson implanted into me from the very beginning beliefs such as, “Be the best or nothing at all. Study the greats and become greater. Rule the world. Immortalize yourself.” As I began my adult career at nine years old, these were my directives. This ruled out any room for mistakes, experimentation, playfulness, or genuine collaboration. Therefore over the years, the bulk of my Choreography, Stage Direction, Film Direction, Song Writing and Producing experiences were motivated most notably by one thing, FEAR of not being the BEST. By the grace of the universe, I still managed to somehow manifest some good art at times, but the experience of getting there was most often extremely painful.
In about 2003, Michael Jackson was accused yet again of child sexual abuse and by 2005 it had graduated to a criminal trial. My wife Amanda and I were about to get married, had sold our home and were moving into a new home in a new area; starting a whole new chapter. The phone calls and training sessions from Michael increased tenfold, just like they did during the 1993 investigation. I finally worked up the courage to tell Michael that I didnʻt want to testify this time. I told him that I was starting a new life with Amanda and I didnʻt want to go through all the madness with the media again. He acted as though he understood. The next week I received a subpoena to testify. The incessant training phone calls continued from Michael. Then, the day for me to testify arrived. There I was in the court room, on the witness stand, sitting across from Michael Jackson, my idol, mentor and friend, who was on trial for child sexual abuse. If Michael were to go to jail, I knew in my heart that he would die in there, and I was going to do my best to make sure that didnʻt happen. I never forgot what occurred sexually between Michael and I when I was child but I swore that he and I alone would go to the grave with that memory. I was petrified that if I was to tell the truth about what happened, I would lose my career, my soon to be wife Amanda, my friends, you name it. As far as I understood at the time, I was fine with what happened between Michael and I and therefore the consequences for Michael and I, if I were to tell the truth, were not worth it. Fear soaked inside, externally cool and determined, I lied. I understand now that I was also drenched in shame about what happened sexually between Michael and I and felt that I was complicit in his crime.
From my early teens on, social interaction became more and more challenging for me. I was increasingly horrified of not being impressive, intriguing, smart or worthy enough. I avoided social interaction as much as possible, especially when the playing field was, as perceived by me, even or placed me at a disadvantage. I was much more comfortable when in a position of power, I.E., when I was working, when I was the Choreographer, the Director, the Music Producer, the boss. In positions such as these it felt much easier to keep up appearances. The deep seated fear I was always running from was that I was a fraud and that if I was not careful, someday, somebody was going to find me out. I have learned over the last five years of therapy and introspection that this core fear, which permeated all aspects of my life, had a lot to do with the hiding of Michaelʻs sexual abuse, my having to lie to the law, the media, my family and everybody about it over the years. Amidst most social interactions, I felt like I was on the witness stand again, trying to stay 10 steps ahead of the adult lawyers (authority figures) and make sure that they never found out the truth about me. This was painful and exhausting and therefore seemingly easier to avoid as much social interaction as possible.
In 2011, about 5 months after our son was born, in the midst of pre-production on my first Hollywood feature film as a Director, I experienced my first full blown nervous breakdown. Stress, anxiety, fear, and insomnia took me over completely and I had to remove myself from the film. This action only increased all of the above symptoms and I became almost completely incapable of functioning. The deep fear of inadequacy had now elevated into a feeling of complete life failure. Everything I had been working so hard for had crumbled and I no longer saw any purpose in anything accept, thank God, my wife Amanda and our son. I engaged in a small amount of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, focused on intellectually working with my fears, which enabled me to zip myself up and get back to work, hard.
In 2012, it all came back, and again, I crumbled; Nervous breakdown #2. This time, I started practicing Yoga daily, I came upon an insight oriented therapist who unbeknownst to me, practiced E. M. D. R. and Somatic Experiencing therapeutic techniques and after about three weeks of seeing him, I disclosed to him for the first time in my life that Michael Jackson had sexually abused me for seven years. From this point on, EVERYTHING changed.
Emotional, mental, physiological and spiritual healing became the main focus of my life. I found a life changing daily practice of Vedic Meditation and the profundity of Vedic knowledge. I left the entertainment business and Amanda, our Son and I moved to Hawai’i. Iʻve continued to seek and find spiritual teachers whom have been of immeasurable value and most recently, dance has found its way back into my heart and body and we are currently experiencing a romance, the likes of which I have never known.
My experiments with FEAR continue and I have learned and experienced that FEAR is actually one of my greatest teachers.
Pema Chodron has taught me to “Stay” and “Lean into the discomfort.” That fear has power over me to the degree that I allow it to make me run in the other direction. But that the fear eases and is ultimately rendered an illusion to the degree that I am able to look at it and sit with it, rather than run from it. It contains infinite wisdom.
Brene Brown has taught me about the transformative power of vulnerability and how it is the cornerstone of creativity and innovation. And that bravery is not the absence of fear; Bravery is when your terrified out of your mind and you go anyway.
Eckhart Tolle has taught me that, “The universe will give you whichever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”
Elizabeth Gilbert has taught me that, “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
Joseph Campbell has taught me that, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Finally, my wife Amanda, our Son, my family and my friends have shown me through it all, that LOVE is infinitely more powerful than FEAR.
And because I gratefully stand on the shoulders of giants, FEAR now plays a tremendously smaller role in my life.
I wish you the courage to look and sit with your own fear. To get to know it and to begin to stop feeding it. As Pema Chodron said, “Without knowing the nature of fear, one can never know fearlessness.”
The only way, is through.
Love, Wade Robson.