I was talking to my close personal friend, and adopt-a-mum, Jen who is a Professor of Women Studies at SFU recently, and we discussed the possibility of me talking about my experience with community professionals who are working with youth. Specifically female youth, and one of the questions that popped into my mind is what would I talk about?
What part of my experience would I share with girls who are looking for that bad guy turned good guy?
I don’t rightly know. My experience was so different from other girls. I only ever had one boyfriend and he got violent with me twice before he walked out the door never to be seen again. We lost a child, and then that was that, it was over and he was gone, which I am grateful for.
Guys in gangs are consistently and constantly looking for attention, they get it by being violent to you or to other guys, and they get it by making sure you know they are in charge, even when it looks like they are wildly out of control.
More often than not it’s about the appearance of having power, than it is about having any actual power or emotional intelligence, and very rarely are they going to sit down and talk about their feelings. Not because they don’t have any, but because in that world, they aren’t allowed to have feelings.
You can’t have a relationship with a guy who is in a gang, you have an experience with him, he’ll never show you his full true self, largely and more importantly because he can’t afford to be vulnerable, so why bother? Because we love them, that’s the simple answer.
We see these people who have had shitty childhoods, who feel like they have to be the biggest, baddest toughest guy in the world and we want to be the one that gives them that place of feeling like they can be their true selves. Their true selves are often selfish and manipulative, and rarely if ever do they stop to think about the consequences of their actions.
Meanwhile we’re left wondering what the fuck it is we did wrong, the only thing we did wrong was fall in love, and heaven forbid we actually tell the truth about how we feel, because the moment we do they find a way to use it against you, to make you feel like you’re the asshole. Guys in gangs are excellent at gas lighting, because nothing is ever their fault and when you point out how it might be their fault, you’re the psycho.
If you get raped, you don’t say you get raped, you keep your head down and your mouth shut, because you’re a slut, a whore and a tramp and you clearly wanted it or you wouldn’t have worn those clothes, had that much to drink or spread your legs.
The details of your rape don’t matter because they aren’t cops, and if you call rape, you’re always at fault, it’s never the guy’s fault. That’s what I would say, and still I say I love the guys I know, largely because it’s a fucking illness.
I wish I could look back and hate the men who pulled me out of that little yellow and white house, I wish I could hate them for knowing that I was held against my will for hours and raped by some of the scariest men in Surrey BC, I wish I could wish them harm, but I can’t because when it counted they were there and they had my back.
I could have died, and then what? I don’t expect that anyone is out there shooting each other up because of what happened to me, they are out there shooting each other over drug debts, and who owns what territory.
Every single person I’ve ever met who has sold drugs has ended up in jail, dead or in an institution. I ended up institutionalizing myself just to get away from that world, and yet there is nothing that I can say that will convince you to get away from a guy in a gang, unless you understand the value of your own life. I can’t do that for you, it’s something you have to decide for yourself.
You have to decide what kind of life you want to live, and who you want to be, you have to decide if you’re willing to put your future, your children and everything you know and love for a person who lives for the danger and the crowd appeal of having everyone step back when your guy slams his fist into someones face just because he can.
You have to decide the kind of values you want to live by, and until you can do that, you’re going to continue to be in these negative toxic relationships. Only you can decide what kind of person you want to spend your time with.
Having spent most of my best (ha) dating years in the dingy back end of a strip club, I can honestly say I’d prefer long moonlight drives listening to obscure punk rock or Jazz or Blues. I can honestly say I’d rather spend my money going to the films or hanging out with people who are going to travel the world instead of travel the institution circle.
It’s entirely up to you, but if you’re wondering if you should stay with a guy in gang, don’t ask yourself if he makes you feel good. Feeling good isn’t the same as feeling loved, appreciated, wanted and understood.
Lots of gang guys can make you feel good, it’s like a fucking drug, “he’s the biggest and scariest and everyone answers to him.” So fucking what? he’s still going to end up in an NA meeting one day talking about how much of his life he wasted destroying the lives of others because he felt amused enough to do so. It’s how they all end up, in jails, or dead, with you wondering what life you could have had.
Save your time and stay the fuck away, it’s nothing like the movies, it’s not sexy or pretty, it’s dangerous, emotionally draining and stressful and it isn’t worth it. But as I said, only you can decide that for yourself.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall