There are a lot of different ways that I could have approached dealing with what happened to me. I could have, very seriously I say this, ended up homeless and addicted to drugs, selling my body to survive. It happens to men and women around the world all the time.
Because of my past experience working in addictions I made choices that helped me end up where I am today, but I also recognize that some of those choices in a very real way, caused pain to people that I claim that I used to love, and I am only just now starting to recognize that.
Over the last four years I have done a lot of emotional, spiritual, and internal work on myself, but the one thing that I forgot is that if “I” am feeling alone, so are others. I’ve been so focused on how I feel, that I haven’t been putting much thought into how others feel.
I used to, I used to be surrounded by people who didn’t know or understand how to talk about or dissect their feelings, and so through them I learned not to talk about what I was going through, and then once I started I couldn’t stop.
For a very long time I lost that side of myself that genuinely cared about what other people were going through, because I was so focused on myself. I left a lot of pain in my wake, often stopping only to think about how the people in my life made me feel, rarely thinking about the effect I was having on their feelings.
I am going to stop that now. I am going to be the person who listens more and speaks less, I am going to be the person who doesn’t always need to center herself around every single topic. I realized earlier today that I didn’t have something funny to say to something a friend posted on Twitter, and so I chose not to say anything.
That’s a problem. Not everything needs to be funny, I like to make people laugh, but it’s not my job to be the center of attention all the time. It’s my job to talk about mental health, trauma, sexual abuse, cannabis, and to educate others to believe that they have every right to share their experience as I do.
I haven’t been doing that lately. I’ve been making people feel like their voices don’t matter as much as mine, or like their experience is less valid than mine because my experience was “worse,” the thing is, that is such a selfish way to exist.
Pain and trauma is diverse, and everyone experiences these issues in different ways, what is “worse” for me, is something that is “not that bad” for someone else. I don’t ever want to be the kind of person who makes people believe that I am spending my whole life thinking “poor me,” I am ready to move on from that mentality.
I needed to take some time to feel sorry for myself, and to lick my wounds and to center myself, but I also know that I want to be more than someone who curls in a corner crying about how bad the world is.
Part of changing my behavior is acknowledging that when I fuck up, I have to talk about it here on the blog, it’s important to me that I let my audience know that I am trying to get better. More importantly than that, I view these blog posts as letters to all the people who came into my life long before this website existed.
I want the people who were a part of making me who I am today, to know that the effect they had on my life isn’t ignored. I want them to know that the lessons they taught me, the challenges they presented me with, and the inspiration they caused means something.
I never want to be the kind of person who makes other people feel like their work doesn’t matter to me. There are hundreds of thousands of people that I’ve met in my entire life time, who have changed everything that I am today. I wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my Ohana, if it weren’t for the people who put up with my bullshit when no one else would.
I have bragged about kicking everyone out of my life four years ago, it wasn’t an easy choice, it was a necessary one for survival, but I don’t want to be in survival mode every single day.
Recognizing how my behavior has an effect on others is absolutely a skill, and it’s not one that I’ve learned to cultivate over the last thirty-eight years, but I am going to work on it very seriously.
It is important to me that I am someone that people want to look up to, it’s important to my self-esteem that people believe in me, and in order for me to deserve to be that person, I have to focus on being the best version of myself.
I say that a lot but at the core what I mean is that I can’t be the kind of person who points fingers at other people, while ignoring the obvious mirror staring me back in the face.
The truth is that I’ve been fucking up lately, I’ve been making mistakes and pretending that my mistakes don’t matter or don’t have an affect on the world. I’ve been pretending that I haven’t been causing real harm to those that I care about.
As angry as I am about what happened to us as children, I still care about the men who raped me – or some of them at least, if only because we were children, when the abuse first started. I care about the fact that some of them are parents, some of them are in institutions or jails, I care about the fact that the entire trajectory of their lives was altered by abuse, and I want them to have the kind of lives that they can be proud of.
How can I not, when I am no better than any of them? Yes I made different choices, but that’s only because I had my mom to show me the way. Yes there are a lot of issues between my mom and I, but when it mattered the most she’s always been there for me. A lot of the men who raped me didn’t have someone there to show them the way.
They didn’t always have someone to protect them either, they didn’t always have someone to tell them that it could and would get better, and for a really long time I ignored that fact because it was easier to hate them, to blame my abusers, then to recognize that these were grown ass men dealing with real childhood trauma.
For me, personally, I am trying to find my way towards forgiveness, because I don’t want to surround myself with negativity and hatred forever. I’m not saying that we’ll celebrate Christmas dinner together, but there are moments from our past that I look back on fondly. There are memories I have where things weren’t always so bad, and choosing to forget that, is choosing to live with a lie.
I can’t say that I am always going to get it right, or that I’ll never dip into self pity and selfishness again, but I am going to keep an eye on my thoughts, words, actions, and behaviors. I am going to change the trajectory of my healing journey, so that I can heal as authentically and positively as possible.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall