Abuse

Yes, You Actually Fucking Can Do This…

I heard a story recently about the first person in the world, to complete the Ironman Race, while living with Downs Syndrome.

This is my favorite story of the week. His name is Chris Nikic and he is twenty-one years old.

He is twenty-one.

OH and he has Down’s Syndrome, and he completed an Ironman race. I don’t know what I am most excited about, but the fact that he did it, that he is smashing barriers simply by being himself is incredibly inspiring to me.

Part of the reason that this inspires me so much, is that I know there are people in this man’s life who told him he wasn’t going to accomplish his dream, and he absolutely smashed his goals.

Each of us faces challenges or tests that push us past our limits, and when we are trying hard to accomplish our dreams, it can often feel like they are insurmountable or impossible.

The truth is that sometimes dreams don’t come true, but it’s often because we give up on ourselves before we’ve even tried.

I spent most of my twenties not writing, and not talking about the things that matter to me, focused only on the fact that I wasn’t getting comments, instead of focusing on how “I” was feeling about the work that I was putting into the world.

I didn’t think about writing a book in any serious capacity, it was sort of “one day maybe, I kind of want to but I’m not sure that I can” kind of way.

Well I’ve published one book and I am working on a second, and to be honest with you I honestly never thought that would happen. I keep measuring the fact that I wrote a book with the fact that “it’s not the way other people would do it,” until I remember that I wrote a book and I did it because I needed to.

I didn’t want to write Uncomfortable, I had no plans to write a book for quite awhile, I wanted to wait until I had five hundred posts up on the blog, but someone encouraged me and while we no longer speak, I do not regret the decision to do the fucking thing and write the book.

If I hadn’t written the first book, I wouldn’t be working on the second, and I wouldn’t have started to push myself towards being a healthier happier person. I would have been stuck in my misery.

For many people this year has been harder than most, some of us have lost family members or partners, loved ones and friends due to the Corona Virus.

Others have lost loved ones due to accidents or suicide or long term illness, there has been a lot of death this year, and a lot of illness. It is without a doubt the year of pestilence, but somewhere in there, some of us have found some solace in the work.

We have found peace by taking the way we look at the world and putting it on the page for other people to see, and I’ve realized that writing is more about soothing the soul, than it is about helping other people.

Helping other people is secondary to the fact that writing just fucking feels good, I imagine it’s the same if you are an artist who works with other mediums like wood or metal.

The act of taking something in your brain, and finding a way to communicate it to other human beings is a gift, and it’s one that so many of us take for granted out of fear.

Fear controls so much of our minds, and it allows us the space to procrastinate from doing the things that we say we want to do, because being afraid is a hell of a lot easier than getting the work done.

I am absolutely terrified of this new book, because it’s forcing me to admit that I am not perfect. It’s forcing me to be really, genuinely, authentic and honest about who I am as a human being.

I am finding deep flaws that need correction, I am finding mistakes that didn’t have to be made, I am finding imperfections that make me feel like I don’t deserve to be happy, and when this happens I think back to a conversation I had with Natalie Cox from Afro Cannada BudSista’s, in which she told me to give myself a break.

I remind myself of that mentality every day now, some days I want to stay in bed all day – and I do, and other days I am able to get some work done and then I go back to bed, but the point is that I am trying.

I have absolutely no sympathy for people who say they “can’t” do something, because the truth is you absolutely can do whatever the fuck you want, the question isn’t about whether or not you can do it, and completely about whether or not you want to do it.

“I can’t” was a reoccuring theme in my late teens and early twenties, and those words were absolutely true. I was completely unprepared, unwilling, and not ready, to move half way across the country to be with a guy I “might” be in love with.

Because at that time in my life, it wasn’t a decision that I was willing to make, commitment became a big thing for me, I was constantly chasing men around, ignoring my own wants and dreams because I was convinced that I “had to have a guy” in order to be happy.

Whelp, I got the guy, and he kicked my ass and abused the hell out of me for nearly a year. That only made my commitment issues worse, and convinced me that every guy is going to have that majick moment wherein he turns and starts abusing me for his own amusement.

This mentality has been a constant theme in my life, if something bad happens once, I keep convincing myself that it’s going to become a pattern, because it always has.

When things are going good in my life, I am constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I remember sitting at a dining room table once, with my rapist and his wife – I had forgotten this man had raped me on the front lawn of my house. I had forgotten, because it was easier to forget than to remember.

A mutual friend had introduced us years later, and it didn’t hit me until I had my panic attack several years at that dinner. However, the point is that at that dinner, I felt both happy because it was my first “family” style Christmas dinner in years.

For years Christmas was a work thing, so we didn’t do the family thing after, so it was fun sitting with my friends sharing a meal, but I also felt an impending sense of doom.

I was gang raped the following year. He was there.

Through my writing I have discovered that these events have been looped around my life. My rapists have always been a part of my life even long after the rapes were over, and I think largely this is because of serendipity, but I also think that it’s because really Surrey is a super small place.

Spending this last year alone, I have told everyone in my life that I don’t want a man right now, what I want is this time to heal and to recover from the things that were done to me, as well as the things that I did to others.

Being alone so much this year has really allowed me to focus on just how much of my life was spent saying “I can’t” and while my reasons were absolutely valid, I recognize that if I had been able to get past “I can’t” if I had even tried to work on “I can” I would be a lot further along in life than I am now.

I recognize this, but I also recognize that if I was supposed to be further along than I am now, I would be.

I am where I am because this is where I need to be, is something that I tell myself a lot, and it helps because it reminds me that all those years of sacrifice and suffering were about learning so that I can take my pain and give it purpose.

I am not saying that I should have had to go through what I went through – no child should wake up to grown ass men raping her in every possible way. No child should be forced to have sex with boys and grown men, that is not okay.

However, I also recognize that I survived everything that I have been through up to this point, I can survive some stressful fucking feelings to talk about it, because now I know that I can.

I used to think that talking about what happened to me was the worst possible thing that I could do to myself, because it would mean taking what I “thought” had happened, and making it real. Once you start talking about it, it’s not just a bad memory, it becomes a part of your story.

Not a single one of us on this planet wants rape and sexual abuse to be a part of our experience, but the problem with not talking about it is that if we don’t talk about it, other people won’t know it happened.

When you become a writer who uses their pain to help others, you effectively become a teacher. Healing from trauma, abuse, and sexual assault, is absolutely a survival skill.

It takes self love, it takes patience, and it takes a of self understanding, these are not things that we are born understanding, these are things that we are taught over time through listening to the stories and experience of others.

Stephen Coghlan tells me all the time that I am a teacher to him, he tells me that I taught him, and continue to teach him, how to understand some of the thingst hat his wife has experienced. I am honored by this compliment, because it means there was a point to my pain.

Yesterday one of my new but very good friends told me that I am a part of her journey, she says that she hears my voice when she is talking down to herself. That is fucking amazing.

Me? I teach you? I inspire you? me with all my self loathing and hatred? Me with all my insecurities? Me with all my fears and resentments and bitterness, is teaching you how to be a happier, healthier person? Maybe I know more than I thought I did.

I am not saying that I need other people to validate me in order to feel like I am a success, but what I am saying is that if you believe you cannot, you fucking won’t. It’s as simple as that.

I didn’t know – and most people don’t – that I would inspire/teach/help other people when I wrote Uncomfortable, that wasn’t my focus. My focus was on taking what was in my head, and releasing it into the world so that I could make space to deal with the emotions that came with everything I wrote.

When I released that book I cried for a couple of hours, and then I sat back up and realized that in the first day I sold eighteen copies.

That’s not too shabby, but I can’t help but wonder how many books I would have sold if I hadn’t put Uncomfortable up for sale at all.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

2 replies »

  1. Wow, must’ve taken courage to share what you did in this post, and it sucks to know that you’ve gone through that. Wishing you the best with your journey, and with your mission to help and inspire others.

    Like

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