For months now I’ve been struggling to tell the story of Siddha Lee Saint James, the fictional character that I made myself into as a child.
Siddha was a soldier, she could handle any bully and fight any crime with the power of her mind. By night she hunted demons and vampires, and by day she worked to help better the lives of those who needed help. Clearly based on my life working with Homeless by day and hanging out with Drug dealers by night, obviously right?
Well over the last several months I’ve been dealing with recovered memories of being raped and traumatized by a man who liked to torture his victims in a variety of disturbingly calculated and evil ways.
Lately I am terrified that he is going to come back, and find me again, that he will return and this time I won’t make it out. I was only sixteen the first time he came to me, he had me for weeks, in my own bedroom and turned my life and the lives of those I love into a genuine nightmare.
I couldn’t begin to tell you the things he did to us, the things he made us do, with any sense of real clarity and it could be said that my life was one tragedy after another, and yet I find myself so disinterested in writing about it that a real depression has sunk into my bones.
Krisya Ohana was based on the idea that there was one “church” for Jesus, but another far less known one for Mary Magdalena, who in this story I refer to as “Santa Maria,” or Saint Mariah.
Mariah in my story was the wife of Jesus, and together they had thirteen children, the Apostles who remained after the death of Jesus were charged with protecting these children, which eventually evolved into becoming the leaders of the Council of Krisya Ohana. Or, Maria’s Family.
I always loved the idea that Mary and Jesus had children, that they had a life together that wasn’t based on religion but on love, and it was this story that helped us survive as kids. We used to add layers to it on the nights the boys would be brought into my room, each of us telling the other another section or part of the story in soft whispers so he wouldn’t hear.
It was this language that we created as children and I seem to have lost it. I always said that one day I would write it down, so the world would know that we did this together, that we had created this story together, and lived parts of it.
We convinced ourselves that we were the children of Jesus and Maria, the great descendants that the world had been promised, and one day our lives would matter more, and every single time I think about that story I feel my heart break.
Not because I do not believe that we are Krisya Ohana, but because so many people want to talk about sex trafficking but so many of you don’t have a fucking clue what it means.
I’m not talking about the PTSD, Depression, Anxiety and sense of hopelessness that comes when you realize that the only thing people want from you is your body, I’m talking about the utter isolation of knowing that you will never be the same again, that everything about you has been ripped apart for someone else’s pleasure.
From knowing that no matter how much you convince yourself you are in control, the truth is that the person who is in control is the one who refuses to accept no as an answer to any question.
When he would ask if something hurt and we said no, he’d do it harder, if we said yes he’d do it twice as hard and punish us for being weak. This was our fucking childhood, but so many of you have thoughts on opinions on what we went through but none of you listen to us.
The Surrey British Columbia Wolf Pack was born of a group of children who had been beaten, raped, sexually abused, tortured and traumatized. Not all of them mind you, but a good deal of those men were abused and I know this for a fact because in many cases I was in the exact same bed that they’d been in. In some cases, right beside them.
There are many people who hear the words “Wolf Pack” and think “gang,” but it wasn’t always like that. We were children once, a pack of them who howled every full moon when he came to us and abused us, tortured us, raped us. We called ourselves wolves because we believed that we would always be there to protect each other, and twenty years later, we’re the same adults that have seen our story told in a thousand different ways but never by us.
I turned Siddha Lee into my hero because she was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. A single powerful force in the face of darkness who never gives up when things get hard or scary. She’s the woman who can handle any solution, do anything, and she’s the most majickal fantastical part of me that is no longer five years old.
At five years old I had a very well thought out intricate portrait of who I believed I would become. At thirty-six I am…in some ways utterly dissapointed.
I remember being about six or seven, and utterly convinced my grandmother had to be ancient, I also believed she was in her thirties, (she was into her fifties at that point I believe), I was terrified that I wouldn’t get enough time with her because she was so old. I knew nothing but that I didn’t want to look or be as tired as my thirty year old grandmother.
I was a fucking moron. Life is never as simple as we expect it to be as when we’re five years old, and while the person we think we will become is never the reality, it doesn’t have to be as painful and stressful as this last year of my life has been.
I made it harder on myself because I started to believe the lies, I started to believe that I wasn’t worthy of being a good writer, of being loved, or of writing down the story that helped us all heal from a world of pain and trauma, because I’d been raped. I started to believe that somehow, no matter what else I tried to tell myself, everything that happened to us, was somehow my fault.
This is because when Father Alex of Saint James Church in Calgary raped me, he told me that if I hadn’t been born white “this wouldn’t be happening to you, but because you chose to be born black you get to suffer.”
I believed that so deeply, that every time it happened, every time I got hit, raped, sexually assaulted, raped or beaten, I was somehow to blame. My skin color became a fucking weapon being used against me, and I believed that internalized racism.
This is precisely why what Justin Trudeau did is so utterly gross and disgusting and while forgivable, not forgettable.
One of my many “Mama’s” (a word we use for Elder Krisya, who are older and wiser than us younger selves) once told me that your thirties are the most confusing time of your life. I am reminded instantly of the moment Siddha Lee from “Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood, says “I’m just adding up all the money I spent trying to figure out what the hell I did wrong.”
Yeah, exactly that. We spend so much time looking at how we could be better, we could be more amazing, stronger, powerful’er, better in every possible way that we don’t stop to look at the pain it took to get us where we are today, in this moment, in this time, and to appreciate that, to have the ability to appreciate that is the greatest gift in the world.
Gangs are not something that are born from a group of people wanting to do bad things. The Wolf Pack was a family once, and I hope it will be again, with new colors, and new friends, and new knowledge that we don’t have to be like that any more. We don’t have to be angry, sad, and scared and alone any more. Because too many people know our secrets now, the proof is as Jason Zubcowski would have said in seventh grade, (every single day of it) “The Truth is out there. If you know where to look.”
There was a time we believed we could hear each other’s thoughts, and shared a language that no one else could understand, filled with secret codes and movements, dances and snaps of the fingers. There was a time I believed that we had the power to change our own lives on our own, but the truth is that people need other people.
We need to be able to share our thoughts, by speaking them, we need to be able to share our pain, in an open and honest way, and I don’t think I will ever feel safe meeting a man who thinks that there is nothing wrong with someone not understanding my pain and refuses to try.
My mom says that it was a different time, and that it’s okay because other brown people don’t see anything wrong with it. That’s because of all of this and more internalized racism, this idea that we somehow deserve less respect because we “chose” to be born a person of color.
I like the idea that I was chosen to be a person of color, that no other soul in the world could escape and survive what we survived without each other. None of us are white by the way, most of the people who I am not so subtly speaking of are Natural born Indigenous folk who fell through the cracks because we weren’t white enough.
Because our voices mattered less then that they do now that we’re adults, whose voices were twisted into the voices of victims, and are only now being taught to speak in the tone of Survivor.
Yes I can forgive our Prime Minister, but I will not forget, that he thought it was a good idea to pretend to be black or brown, while forgetting that while he was able to bath the color off of his skin, while he had that privilege, I never will.
Gangs are the result of something terrible happening to a group of children, and adults refusing to pay attention to the signs. So this September, make sure that if you can be there for a child, who clearly needs your attention, your love, that you at least try. There is a world where gangs do not exist and we are happy, but it only works if we start actually caring about the little stuff.
It’s the little seemingly unimportant signs that go often the most missed, and those signs are what you need to start paying attention to. For more information here’s a good list from the Mayo Clinic.
Devon J Hall