So for those of you who do not know I am taking this really cool program that was created by SISSIP Network, which is an organization that typically works with people who are considered “Seniors” in our community.
This cohort that they are doing however is being inclusive of younger people who want to learn to tell stories about themselves. Maybe because they want to get a better grasp on their mental health, maybe they want to be public speakers, or maybe like me they want to go into the Mental Health industry with a better grasp at how to stay positive when it comes to dealing with trauma.
Whatever the reason there are about eight of us, and each of us are learning how to tell our stories differently, thanks to our new friend and Life-Coach Jessika, and Public Speaker Noel.
One of the assignments for this week is to journal about the stories that we used to tell and ask ourselves if these stories still serve us in our current state.
So to that end, here is my assignment for this week.
When I was 5 years old I had a dream about my future. Y’all already know this, but it’s part of the assignment and Jessika doesn’t know this so suck it. I dreamt that I was laying down beside a tree holding a blue book that said “JOURNAL” in gold lettering. I was sitting across from a big white building that said PUBLISHING HOUSE, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that if I was going to be a writer I was going to need to have an interesting life.
I’ve been molested, raped, beaten, kidnapped, tortured, branded, and I am still alive. No matter what the universe through at me, I found a way to weave and bob through time and space, and I am here to tell you that I fucking survived.
That’s the story that I tell myself, but it’s not the only story that I have to tell. Over the years I’ve told hundreds of thousands of stories, so have you. Some of them were absolute truth, and other’s were lies, and some of them were my imagination at some SERIOUS work.
But each of those stories confirmed what my five year old self was absolutely correct, I WAS going to have an interesting life, but “interesting” as it turns out, doesn’t always mean “good” or “peaceful” it doesn’t mean kind, loving, respectful, helpful, or beautiful. It means “it’s something that you want to know more about.”
in·ter·est·ing/ˈint(ə)rəstiNG/Learn to pronounceadjective
- arousing curiosity or interest; holding or catching the attention. “an interesting debate” Similar: absorbingengrossingfascinatingrivetinggrippingcompellingcompulsivespellbindingcaptivatingengagingenthrallingentrancingbeguilingappealingattractiveamusingentertainingstimulatingthought-provokingdivertingexcitingintriguingaction-packedunputdownableOpposite:boringuninteresting
A lot of times the story that I told were diversions, so that I didn’t have to talk about my history, but in a very real way they saved me.
If I had come clean about the shit that was happening or had happened in my life before I actually did, I would probably dead, more than likely by suicide or murder.
It took me a lot of time, a lot of drugs, and a lot of breaking the brainwashing in my head to tell the stories. I have to give myself, and the people around me credit, I buried that shit DEEP.
The lies that I was telling were not about telling lies for attention, although I thought they were honestly, it was about layering what really happened with lies, so that I didn’t have to think about it.
When I was a kid I thought I was going to be a model – because a lot of white women told me that I SHOULD want to be a model and they ALWAYS compared me to Tara Banks, for no other reason than that was the only Black woman they knew.
There were hundreds of famous Black women back in the 90s, like Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, the women of Salt N Peppa, and yet none of the white women that were in my life knew who any of them were, because as many white women friends as my mom had, I was the only Black girl.
The fact that I was mixed-race didn’t matter, it was the fact that my dad was Black that mattered, and so I was seen as Black, and if you were Black in the 90s you KNOW y’all had a group of people who only had that 1 other Black person to compare you to, especially in Canada.
In British Columbia it was Halle Barry, I look nothing like this woman by the way, I’m darker, way fatter and always have been, but that was the 1.
So in BC I was seen as tough and scary because I was Black, and because there were some people who knew me in BC that I’d known as a child in Calgary, and some of them remembered my step-dad who was an asshole, but who was ALSO connected to some very bad people.
I didn’t talk about that, ever. I didn’t talk about him, or who he knew, or what he did, because a) it was no one’s fucking business and because b) he and his former friends and allies were fucking assholes. I always knew if I could trust someone by how much they liked him, if they hated him, I could trust them. In BC that wasn’t the case, there were people who hated him, and used me as a weapon to hurt me was in a very real way to hurt him, even though he was no longer a part of our lives.
And so although I had forgotten my desire to tell stories, I was STILL telling stories, but not because I wanted to, I was telling them to keep myself safe, to protect and insulate myself from people who might learn the truth.
The Sins of the Father….
I learned to tell stories without words. Shifting my behavior so that I became what the men in my life wanted me to be, or what they said they wanted me to be, just so they would shut the fuck up. I discovered through my stories that I really, really, REALLLY hate men. Like I have 0 respect for them.
There are few men in my world who have earned my respect, and yes they are mostly on Twitter.
It took me a really long time to get into the groove of telling stories with words, using my voice, God, Angels, Demons, and other worldly creatures, that helped me reconnect with myself. Finding understanding in my stories about Vampires fighting against Angels really helped me connect to my spirituality.
For me Vampires, Demons, Angels, and Gods and Goddesses were not (and are not) metaphors, they are absolutely real. I can almost feel them, and sometimes I feel like I can touch them, and believing this although crazy to some, gives me solace in a world that for years has tried to make me destroy myself so that I will conform.
MY stories are about the inability to conform, even when you read my fiction blog “Kadara Ascending: First, Blood” you will see that each of the “good” characters are people who refuse to conform, lie, cheat, and steal, while the “bad guys” who are all women, do exactly that, so they can keep control over a world that wants them to be less then who they were born to be.
Through telling stories I have learned that good vs evil is very subjective. What might be evil to me, is really just a different understanding of how the world works, I don’t believe in hurting people, even though sometimes I really, REALLY want to stab a few Angels in the neck every now and then. I choose deliberately to pull the knife in my mind away because I know that those Angels have their own trauma that they have been forced to survive.
The WAY that we learned to survive may be different, but that doesn’t mean that the stories they tell about their lives are any less traumatic than mine were.
I struggle with phrases like “my suffering wasn’t worse,” it wasn’t “worse” it was just more prolonged, lasted longer, hit harder. That doesn’t mean yours didn’t suck in equally terrible ways.
By telling the stories of what happened to us so long ago, even though I’ve seriously ruffled some feathers, I have found a way to set myself free from the past and cultivate a new path for myself instead of being forced to choose from the paths that were placed in front of me.
When I first started this website, I wanted these blog posts and pages to be a mixture of fiction and reality, but I couldn’t find a way to separate the two in a way that made sense to my brain.
Having a secondary fiction blog has allowed me to create space in my brains so that I can tell the difference between the stories that I HAVE to tell and the stories that I WANT to tell.
In between writing this post I took time to decorate and dedicate a personal journal that I am using to keep notes that I am planning or wanting to use for Kadara. This particular book is very special to me, because it’s the first time that I’ve been able to sit down and really focus on the story that I WANT to tell, instead of telling the stories that I am COMPELLED to tell.
I think that the stories of my past served me because they helped me to survive, but the difference between the stories I HAD to tell and the stories that I WANT to tell, is that the stories that I WANT to tell, are the same stories that are helping me thrive in a world that tried to make me believe that I was never going to.
I am no longer focused on the past and how much it damaged me, but instead I am learning to take all of those stories and showcase to the world how strong they made me. I am trying to show the world that I am okay, so that I can BE okay. It’s going to take a lot of work, and it’s going to take me learning to reframe the stories of my past so that they make ME comfortable without harming others, but I am willing to take the effort to learn, because I have 8 billion teachers on this planet, that I can learn from.
I have no excuse not to try.
Sending all my love,
Devvon J Hall
P.S. as I said I took a break from writing this post to do some drawing and get in to touch with my childhood self, and this is what I came up with. (It’s the notebook for Kadara.)