It was the early 1990s — and I remember laying on the shag carpet in our living room.
Back then, my favorite television station was the “USA Network.”
That particular station always had a variety of late 70s and early 80s horror films scheduled on their programming slate (all of which fascinated me, for some reason).
Even at nine years old, I was particularly intrigued by horror films — especially when visiting the video store and observing the sensational artwork on VHS cover sleeves.
But, on this particular occasion, while laying on the floor with my chin on a pillow — I absolutely could not take my eyes off the screen.
I was entranced by a young girl in a hospital gown.
Not only was she injured — but she was running barefoot in a dark, hospital parking lot.
Behind her, an industrial red light bulb highlighted the emotionless face of a man in a white mask — as he methodically turned the corner of a chain link fence.
The thing is .. she wasn’t “just” running. She was strategically doing everything in her power to survive.
Her face was filled with a look of vulnerability, horror and urgency.
I immediately understood her panic and connected with her durable fragility on a very deep, primal level.
“What is this?” — I asked my Dad, who was reading the newspaper.
“Oh .. it’s like .. the Jason of the 70s” — he muttered.
That film was Halloween II (1981).
When it’s all said and done — Halloween II is no “Gone with The Wind.”
But, it certainly was (and still is) — for me.
Because even at age nine, I had been running from something terrifying.
I had to run away from my budding attraction to other males. I had to run from the trauma I experienced at age five. I had to run from my peers who were constantly tormenting me.
… and I would continue running most of my life.
But, back to that young girl in the hospital gown — That, of course, was Jamie Lee Curtis.
I remember watching her survive a traumatic ordeal in a fiery hospital — and learning a great deal about resilience and survival.
As I entered my adolescent years, I realized what I had seen at age nine, was actually just a sequel to an original 1978 film.
As I rented the original Halloween (1978), I was even more enthralled.
“You mean … this girl was having a normal day before she encountered this nightmare?” — I remember thinking to myself.
Having experienced the film franchise backwards, I had initially met the character of Laurie Strode as this subdued, yet traumatized hospital patient.
In the original film, however, she was a normal teenager .. just like me.
But near the end of the original “Halloween”, she was on the run again.
And in those moments, I immediately understood her fear again.
At that time, I had to run from the pain of watching my hetero-normative peers meet all their societal milestones, while I was different.
I still had to run from the bullies at school — especially in the locker room, since I was never particularly athletic or coordinated.
I had to run from being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder — and all the irrational terror it instilled in me.
I was also still running from my childhood trauma, which was slowly creeping back into my life in the form of hyperactive behavior and highly emotionalized feelings.
But I watched Laurie Strode survive … and I knew I could too.
When I was in 9th grade, I heard that Jamie Lee Curtis was returning to the Halloween series and would actually be appearing at Planet Hollywood in Times Square to promote the film.
As we were Long Island suburbanites, I begged my father to take me to meet her, which he did.
I remember the magic when she entered through the front door in a tight-fitting black dress that showed off her outstanding physique.
She made it her business to ensure that she met with every person in that restaurant, including me.
I remember when she finally reached my table, my fourteen-year-old psyche could barely handle it.
She put her arm around me, took my disposable paper camera — and took the first selfie ever known to man.
I remember how genuine she was — and how deeply she sensed my affection for her.
I also remember staring at her hands and thinking “Jesus .. those are the hands that stabbed Michael Myers with a knitting needle.”
I always remembered that day — especially when things became even harder.
In my 20s, my childhood trauma finally caught up with me.
I started undermining my self-worth and my body — by making choices that only a trauma victim would understand.
Although I never hurt anyone but myself, I lived in a perpetual world of feeling tainted, ashamed, unworthy and low.
I began experimenting with drugs while I was partying at primarily straight night clubs — and drinking alone to numb feelings of loneliness.
That drinking eventually turned into a nightly routine by the time I was in my late 20s.
You see, everyone was getting married.
My friends were dwindling and I was becoming a forgotten relic that died out with the empty nightclub.
It was during this period that I also allowed guys my age to take serious advantage of me, by letting them strategically manipulate me with their homoerotic “bro-culture” rhetoric and frat-like toxic masculinity.
I would allow men to shame and disregard me after being subject to their sexually explicit behavior — and let them toss me aside after sharing intimate encounters with one another .. encounters that always reduced me down to a disposable, experimental guinea pig.
Within this same period, I also remember thinking about how the popular head cheerleader in high school — who had become the top sorority girl in college — was now marrying a gorgeous former football player.
In the engagement postcard, both of them were surrounded by their equally gorgeous hetero-normative friends — all of whom were posing with both pom-poms and footballs.
And here I was .. totally alone in my apartment with my vodka and my toaster pizza, eating my heart out on social media.
I had also just pursued writing and directing my first feature horror film, which ended up being a total disaster.
It was just all too much ..
.. and I tried taking my life.
I remember waking up with vomit covering both my face and my apartment.
But somehow, I had survived …
I moved on quietly without ever telling anyone.
A large portion of my esophagus had been temporarily damaged with eroded lesions from all the substances I forced down my throat — and it took me a few months to recover in bed.
But during that time .. I thought of Jamie Lee Curtis.
I even (for the sake of comfort) put the photo of her and I at Planet Hollywood next to my alarm clock.
I would remember to survive — every day upon waking and looking over at it.
At first, I felt deeply disappointed in myself that I had given up and not considered her before my attempt.
But, during that period, Jamie Lee Curtis started opening up about her own struggles with substances, addiction, bullying and personal body issues.
“Wow”, I remember thinking — she’s here for me right now more than she has ever been. She genuinely understands what I’m going through in her own way.
As I moved forward, I started to become healthier.
I realized that suicide is never an answer as I started developing a deeply personal relationship with my Catholic spirituality.
I also began heavily exploring the self-help movement — and developed a sense of life-saving wisdom that is still with me today.
Once I realized that “it isn’t about what happens to us, but it’s about what we do with it” — I made a life-changing decision to pursue my Master’s degree and Advanced State License in Clinical Psychotherapy.
Now, ten years later, I am a mentally healthy, constructive, fortified Clinical Psychotherapist who has transformed his trauma into a life mission of service.
I can proudly say I have helped hundreds, if not thousands of people face their demons — and this is only the humble beginning.
In the past few years, I’ve read more about Jamie Lee Curtis than ever before in my life — and realized what a deeply empathetic humanitarian she is.
I’ve also enjoyed watching her address the issue of trauma, head-on, in the 2018 reboot of the Halloween series.
Halloween (1978) inspired me to become everything that I am: a Film Professional, a Clinical Psychotherapist and a Survivor.
In the last few years, I’ve written three commercial-spec scripts, the most recent of which explores the bleak, comedic pain of being a hetero-normative outsider.
My screenplays tend to be substantial, authentic, commercially viable trauma narratives that speak to the American psyche.
They also all (primarily) happen to be genre films .
Each screenplay features a role in it that was written with Jamie Lee Curtis in mind — from the Clinical Supervisor of a Manhattan Social Services department — to the perky, “Connecticut homemaker” Mom of a Gay, alcoholic, “has been” screenwriter.
My goal is to write and produce some of the most socially substantial films that the theatrical market has ever seen — while developing an initiative where a percentage of the worldwide gross is directly distributed to a charity of choice.
Who better than a Psychotherapist to make a social dent on genre films?
But more importantly, I now understand that anything I do in life needs to somehow benefit the lives of others.
Jamie Lee Curtis and her donations to the SCARE foundation, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (and beyond) continue to inspire that mission in me.
With everything I’ve said in this article, I think it’s safe for me to purport that Jamie Lee Curtis has been my life’s greatest teacher (aside from my parents).
She has taught me what it is to survive. She has taught me what it is to overcome. She has taught me what it is to heal.
I also found it fascinating to learn that, at one time, she had an interest in potentially becoming a Social Worker, herself.
And now, she is teaching me that life is entirely about giving, healing and empowering others — in absolutely everything that I do.
But, at a base level, Jamie Lee Curtis and her characterization of Laurie Strode is simply the reason I am still alive today.
She has genuinely saved my life and helped me heal from the trauma that once threatened it.
She has been with me every day for the past 30-something years and occupies a permanent place in both my heart and my spiritual core.