When I was growing up in Calgary, I spent an abnormal time alone as a child. Stuck in between trying to be who other people thought I should be, and trying to make tiny inroads to being myself, no matter what I did I was never cool enough, never smart enough, never worthy of spending time with other kids.

As a teenager at eighteen after leaving school in what can only be described as disgrace, I had absolutely no idea how to make new friends, no idea how to get out of my head, and be a part of the world. The thought of getting a job didn’t occur to me honestly, because quite frankly my brain was still stuck in the mindset of a little girl who needed to be taken care of.

Broken didn’t begin to describe how I felt, like a raincloud was perpetually hanging over my head, with no real understanding of how to get out from the rain. I always felt “wet”, like the rain cloud over my head had sunk into my bones and I couldn’t escape it. In some ways it was freeing because I could honestly say that I was depressed, and that I didn’t know how to get better.

When I was in my early twenties I met a group of people the Cops called “Surrey Crew”, they were wonderful and weird and fascinating and beautiful, but just like me they were mostly broken kids who didn’t know how to get their shit back together. Some of them did, some of them went on to get jobs and have kids and partners and real lives, but I wasn’t one of those people.

I “fell into” a job working at the church with my mom where eventually it became my job to help others, but I still felt completely alone, completely isolated. At the end of every day I would go home feeling like I didn’t have anything tangible to offer the world around me.

There were a few years that I spent hanging out with people from my past – but I was so fucked up that I didn’t know the men that I was surrounding myself with, were the same boys I was forced to have sex with as a child. It had been years since I had seen them, and my brain had mostly buried the memories of what had happened.

Earlier in 2020 I decided to start a podcast because I knew that if I didn’t make a concentrated effort to reach out to other humans, if I didn’t do the work to ensure that I wasn’t completely alone. I started meeting up with women from my writer’s group, and some of them introduced me to the Afro Cannada Budsistas. Tonight when talking to them, I opened myself up and I cried, legitimately, I haven’t cried in front of people in years. Not that I remember anyways. I am thirty-seven now, and for the first time in my life I feel accepted.

With any and all of my old friends I always felt the need to hide parts of myself, to keep them a secret because I was ashamed, embarrassed, and anxious about my own inner power.

I thought growing up, that the kids you met in school were supposed to be the friends you have your entire life, but the truth is that friends come and go as your life changes, as you evolve and grow. There is going to be inevitable years where you feel alone, broken, and isolated, but when you find friends that you can be yourself around? When you find your brothers and sisters who accept you and want the best for you? The game changes.

I say this because I keep thinking about the fact that we say over and over again that white supremacists and incels are isolated people who feel like no one understands their pain. We keep saying that they have mental health issues because they are alone, and because they have no one to talk to, but the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

My friends encourage me to find the light, they encourage me to find the best in myself so that I can be there to help others when my time comes. Along with my Budsista’s, I have my Krisya Ohana, which is my spiritual family. They are all the people who throughout my life have taught me lessons, and empowered me to believe that no matter what happens, whether I like it or not they are going to be there.

There are a lot of people from my past that I would just as soon never see again, and yet here they are, ever still, a part of my life, every single day, reminding me that the pain that I am experiencing is not isolated. There are men in my Krisya Ohana circle that I want to hate with every fiber in my being, who tell me that they love me, in spite of what they were taught to do to me, and whatever their reasons are, the fact that they listen to me when I am crying, the fact that they listen when I am yelling and telling them how much I hate them, means a lot. It means that they are hearing me.

I am well aware that not everyone gets the kind of spiritual family that I have, not everyone is open to spirituality, connection, and forgiveness, and the last one is one that I struggle a lot with. I WANT to forgive people, but I honestly have a lot of anger in me – that’s on me. That anger that I am holding inside of me, that I am choosing deliberately not to release is entirely my responsibility.

I am holding it in because I am afraid of what might happen if I let go of it – I am not talking about hurting other people or myself, I am talking about what is going to happen to me when I am not angry anymore. I’ve been operating on anger for so long that I don’t know how to come up for air, which is where my Budsistas and my spiritual Krisya Ohana family come in.

They force me to be open to the idea of talking about what I’ve been through, they encourage safe spaces where I can be honest, even if that honesty is ugly, and it often is.

Honesty isn’t pretty but it’s not supposed to be pretty, when your heart is filled with love, joy, and happiness, but your soul is tired and exhausted you spend a great deal of time wondering when it’s going to get better, wondering if it’s ever going to stop.

Two days ago, and even today, I thought to myself, that life would be a lot better off if I were just dead. If something happened to me to just end my life maybe things would be difficult for other people in my life, but then at least I’d feel nothing right? At least the pain would stop, right? “At least then I would wake up every single day being afraid.”

Someone said that last part to me recently and it occured to me that yes, the pain would stop, yes the feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, misery, pain, sorrow, would end. But then what? What if I end up in hell? As a former Catholic that is a fear that I deal with every single day.

What if I end up in Heaven, and I realize that I’ve made the lives of those I love worse by not existing anymore? What if by chance, the people who hurt me, end up hurting themselves or others because I gave up on myself? There are so many unanswered questions about life after death, and the truth is as much as I want the pain to stop, I don’t want to answer those questions just yet. I am genuinely not ready.

I couldn’t decide to stay alive if it wasn’t for my Krisya Ohana and my BudSista’s, without them I would not be alive, and I know, I can genuinely feel some of you saying “I wish I had that,” and I promise you, that you absolutely will find that, but you gotta keep looking.

Do you remember The Wizard of Oz? When Dorothy ends up in Oz she has no idea what she’s doing or where she is going until she means the Cowardly Lion – who learned that he was always stronger than he thought. The Tin Man who realized that he had a heart after all, and so on and so on.

People need people, to remind them that the shit that we go through doesn’t last forever, people need people willing to forgive, so that they know they have a reason to fight for.

I am completely and utterly pissed at the men who raped me, but I am even angrier at the grown ass men who taught the men who raped me, HOW to rape, when we were all children.

I can forgive the boys who grew up to be men who raped me, and I am working on it, it’s an every day, every single moment of the day process, but I am working on it, because I genuinely do not believe that these are the kind of men who wanted to grow up to abuse and rape women.

They are grown men with children and families of their own, and I have to believe that this is not a cycle they want to have continue into the next generation. I can’t say that they will all be at my wedding, or that they’ll be a part of my children’s lives one day, but I can honestly say that because of my spiritual beliefs, because of my tribes, I don’t want them to die.

I want them to get help, figure out their shit and find ways to be happy with their lives, I want them to see that what they did was painful, and evil, and I want them to adjust their behavior, but I also accept the fact that this might never happen for some of them.

If you’re sitting at home reading this, or at the office, thinking that no one loves you, or that you are unloveable, please remember that all things happen in time.

My Budsista’ Necole Hines told us tonight that the Karmic balance is shifting across the world, that dues that were paid up to 2020 means that we’re going to have an easier go of it in 2021. Honey, you have paid your dues. You are not alone.

When I was about 11 years old I heard a voice tell me that when shit gets to be too much, all I had to do was ask for my Krisya Ohana – my spiritual family of friends, allies, and guides, to show me how to find my way through the darkness.

And so I will say the same thing to you, light a candle and whisper “Krisya Ohana, I need you,” and I promise you, I PROMISE you….they will be there. Not in the way that you want them to be, but in the way you need them, and that matters far more than those who are only there because they know they can take from you, instead of give.

The Budsista’s are absolutely a part of my Krisya Ohana now, and one day when the time comes they will be there for my sons and daughters. One day they will be there for my grandchildren.

When the time is right, your tribe will find you…give yourself a chance, and let yourself believe that you deserve to have a tribe in the first place. Because you absolutely do. No matter what mistakes you’ve made, no matter what pain you may have caused, you deserve to have people who are willing to show you that you can be yourself.

That’s the bare minimum of what we deserve as humans in this place, and from there, anything is possible.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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