Today I talked to my Psych Nurse, she was assigned to me after I decided to hospitalize myself for the panic attacks I was having after I came home from Winnipeg.
From the moment I got onto the phone with her, almost before she could breath, I started talking about all the wonderful things that had happened this month – at first because I wanted her to think that I am doing okay – but the more that we talked, the more that I realized, I AM doing okay.
Yes I have had some really challenging days, yes there have been nights when I’ve curled up and seriously contemplated how miserable I am, and how things are not going my way, and then I wake up the next day and I realize that yup….I’m still doing okay.
For the first time in my life I am not doing things because I have to do them, or because it’s the right thing to do, but because I want to do them. I want to clean my house, so I am doing that, a little bit each day, even if it’s just dishes. I want to start getting into the position of appearing more professional when I am doing interviews and live streams, so I better prepare myself emotionally so that I can get into the space where I can look in the mirror long enough to do my makeup.
I am realizing that I want to be more of a professional in this world of live conversations, or even recorded ones, I want people to come away from a conversation with me thinking “she’s well put together, and she speaks eloquently, and she knows what she’s talking about, and I am not focused on wondering what her curls look like.”
When I cut my hair, it was a deliberate choice because I wanted to be seen as anything other than a woman, I didn’t want people to focus on my womanhood, I wanted them to focus on the words that were coming out of my mouth, because at that point in my life, I had a lot to say and I wanted and needed to be heard.
Now, I don’t just want to be heard, but I want to be seen, and in order to be taken seriously, I need to start approaching all these interviews like part of the job. Well if it’s part of the job then I have to look the part.
And so as I expressed this to my psych nurse I realized that I am also talking about keeping myself accountable, that means doing the dishes, taking more showers, showing up ready to work, appearing like I actually “want” to be seen.
It’s a lot, it can be overwhelming when we’re still in places of healing to take on the idea of showing up to work as our best self, especially when you work from home in the middle of a pandemic. It has been incredibly easy this year to just sit around in my pj’s, and most of the interviews that I have been doing are based on my voice not my looks, so I haven’t focused on “showing” up.
Well if I want to preach accountability, and I want to preach healing from home with all this chaos swimming around me, I better actually behave like I know what I am talking about.
This means forcing myself to stop working at certain hours – which is difficult because all creatives understand that when inspiration strikes you write it the fuck down, which leads to you evolving the idea, and pushing it as far as it can go, which means then we get lost in the idea and the work of making the idea a reality, and then we cycle into this place where we can’t pull ourselves from creating and before we know it the entire day has gone by, we haven’t shaved, showered, or eaten, and oh my Goddess make it stop!
I want to drive home the insanity of it all. One of the things that I am going to be intentional about is focusing on creating work life balance now, so that as the brand and the job grows, I will already have those routines set in stone.
Yes there are some days you can ignore your partner, kids, and family members, but sometimes you have to pull yourself away from the work in order to show up, because other people need you to pull your weight.
Which means stopping to do the dishes, stopping to catch my breath by having something to eat, taking the shower in the morning so that I am ready to work. Maybe it means getting up earlier so that I can be ready to be at my Writer’s Group on time.
Maybe it means taking the time to read everyone’s stories or work during the week, so that when I do show up to the writer’s group I can come informed and ready to share my ideas to help make their writing better, just like they do for me.
It can be a lot to think about when you’re in this place knowing that you’re still healing from your own traumas. It can feel like a lot to be accountable to other people, but then you remember that they were there for you, and instead of feeling guilty for doing the extra work to read their work, or support them, you feel good because you know that you want them to succeed, just like they want you to succeed.
For the first time in my life, I am majorly happy, because there are good things happening in my life, and no matter what anyone said or thought I am in this place that I always said I would be in “one day”. This is the beginning of an entirely new work life path for me, and it’s scary, overwhelming, frustrating, and exciting.
I am plotting away for season 2 of my podcast Comfortably Uncomfortable Conversations, and it feels good to know that I am taking season two seriously. It feels good to use my hands, and my voice, to showcase stories that I think are important.
I am working right now on an episode that is just me myself and I, talking about the things that matter to me, so that people who are brand new to listening to the show can become aware of who Devon J Hall is, and what’s important to her.
Why does this podcast matter? Let’s listen to Devon talk about her stories, let’s hear her voice as she shares her trauma and pain, let’s see if she has something to teach me, or if there is something that I can teach her.
That’s how I want people to look at me, “what can we exchange with each other?” I want people to understand and to believe that I cherish the time that they spend listening to my voice each week, I want them to know that the time they put aside to hear my show, matters to me, because it means they think that I have value, or something to offer them, and that feels pretty good.
When I first started LMBG four years ago I was mentally disabled, I say disabled because it was like my brain shut off. Everything that I had forced myself to believe to be true was suddenly a lie and I was forced to look at the reality of my life, and I didn’t necessarily like what I saw.
I saw pain, sorrow, trauma, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and I didn’t know how to deal with it all, but luckily I was able to tell my mom that I needed help, she took me to the hospital and they gave me medication that helped me calm down and feel less anxious.
The medication allowed me space to say “this happened,” the fact that people didn’t believe me, or made the choice not to believe me didn’t change that the abuse did in fact happen, and knowing that I was able to carve out for myself, a corner of the internet where I could talk about these things.
Over the last month I have come to this place of genuine healing, and while I don’t always show everyone the bare bones truth of what I am experiencing, allowing myself to be more honest about the days and weeks when I am not doing so good, has allowed me space to say “that’s okay little Devon, you’ve worked hard, you don’t have to feel so good today.”
That’s huge because I’ve never done that before, I’ve never allowed myself space to say “this shit sucks, and I don’t know if I can handle it,” but in learning how to say that I have found others who have said “I’ll show you.” There are so many people now in my life, from around the globe, who feed the different parts of myself.
The men and women of EduCanNation, the women of BudSista’s, the Writers and Editors of Color group that I am involved in, each of them teach me, push me, challenge me, my writer’s workshop group is pushing me to face some scary truths about my past by encouraging me to write about the themes that I am genuinely afraid of approaching.
Maybe I don’t edit my posts enough, maybe I don’t edit my words enough on my podcast, but I am learning to take the extra time to do that, so that I can come to a place where I can look at the work and say “that was the best I could do, not the half assed version of Devon, but the real nitty gritty honest to goodness hard working Devon.”
In this place that I am now, I no longer feel like I am in the eye of the storm, I can still see the storm, and it’s still raging around me, but I am not at the center of it anymore. I am slowly pulling away from the woman who was completely lost with all these traumatizing memories, and while I am certainly not cured, I am in a much better place emotionally then I was four years ago.
I am healing every single day, I am focused on getting better, I still smoke cannabis, and I still meet with my BudSista’s, but I have exchanged some tools for others. I am learning some things work for me, like taking five minutes an hour to pull away from the work so that I can decompress, and taking a shower when I need to step away from social media and the news.
And I am learning about things that don’t work for me, like working myself into a stupor and not taking time to decompress from it all. I find that on days when I don’t step away from the work for a little while, I tend to end up feeling like I can’t do anything, and then I find myself spiraling. Hence the need to take time away.
There are tips and tricks that I am learning that work for me, that I didn’t know how to use or access four years ago, and I will continue writing about them but the point is that four years ago I was completely overwhelmed, and with time, education, and help from my community, I am getting better.
Like I said I am not “cured”, but I don’t know if there is a cure for life after trauma, I don’t know if there is ever going to be a day where I’m like “okay I’m done, I’ve done all I can do and there is nothing left for me to do on this planet,” but I do know that every time I think about committing, I take an honest look at my life and realize that trauma has been lying to me for a long time.
I have been telling myself that no one loves me, that no one cares, that no one thinks that I matter, and ironically there are people in this world who have told me that they like having me around. That I am their anchor, that I am a part of their healing journey, that tells me that yes I do have something to live for, and yes I do have a purpose on this planet.
It’s hard to acknowledge that, because it means accepting responsibility for the shit that you can change, it means realizing that although life is not perfect, there are things about your life that you can have power over…and that feeling of “I have power” can be scary when you’ve gotten used to being powerless.
I no longer feel powerless, I no longer feel like I don’t have control…there are moments sure where I’m freaking out and I think I can’t do this, but those moments don’t last nearly as long as they used to, and that gives me hope that eventually they will last minutes instead of hours, and after that seconds instead of minutes.
As I share this journey with you all I am healing, and as I heal I am growing stronger, as I grow stronger I am taking on more responsibility and as I take on more responsibility in my life, I feel more powerful, and as I feel more powerful, I feel like I can connect to that part of myself that doesn’t feel powerful so that I can say “see? it’s not so bad, right?”
It’s a process, and as they say in recovery, progress over perfection. My psych nurse said that I sounded more positive, more upbeat, and that’s because I am excited about my future now. I am excited about all of the adventures that are opening up for me, and the challenges that are coming along with those adventures. I am excited to meet the woman I am becoming.
One of my favorite documentary films is Becoming, and of course it’s about Mrs. Michelle Obama, but more than that it’s about an entire generation of men, women, and children, realizing along with the former First Lady, that we can “become” anything we can imagine becoming, we just have the courage to try.
I know that I could easily slit my wrists and end it all, and the pain, sorrow, all of it would vanish from my life…but what would happen if I didn’t? What would happen if I kept going just to see how far I can get? That’s the adventure that I want to take.
That’s the adventure I want to take not just because I want to see where it goes, but because I am excited to see who I will get to meet along that journey. I am excited to see what they can teach me, because regardless of what my former teachers might think, I like learning new things. I like taking what I have learned and sharing it with other people.
Yeah I am excited about my future, and it’s not just because I have more to be grateful for then to complain about. It’s because through all that I’ve been through in the last thirty-seven years, I know that I have and continue to do the work to make my dreams come true.
As an extension of making my dreams come true, maybe along the way I will be presented with opportunities to make other people’s dreams come true, and that feels like it might be pretty fucking awesome. I would like the opportunity to see what that feels like, not to have them acknowledge it, but to know that I, Devon J Hall, girl from Calgary Alberta Canada, and Surrey BC, Canada, helped someone else’s life long dream come true, are you fucking kidding me?!
That would feel epic, that would feel amazing, and the only way that is going to happen is if I DON’T kill myself, if I keep going, even when it’s hard or scary, frustrating, or annoying. So that means tomorrow morning I have to get up, have a shower, do my makeup, dress up in clothes I didn’t sleep in, and put the best of myself into making sure that tomorrow is a day that matters.
Even if it only matters to me. That’s still a win.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall