per·se·ver·ance/ˌpərsəˈvirəns/ noun

  1. persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. “her perseverance with the technique illustrates her single-mindedness”

Perseverance is Cambridge’s “Word of the Year,” and I think that 600 posts in, today of all days, is the perfect segway to celebrate.

I had absolutely no idea four years ago what the hell I was going to do with this website. I thought it was going to be just me ranting about what happened to me, but from the moment I bought the domain, I knew that it COULD be something special if I gave it a real chance to be something special.

A desire to promote the website, and get me into corners where I could find other women like me; colored, stoner, writer, creative, artist, mental health advocate, and patient, meant that I had to join groups that I was skeptical about, but more than that it meant that I had to be vulnerable.

I was in fact encouraged by several people to be vulnerable, to share my story, to step outside MY comfort zone, by people who swore up and down that they wanted to know me, and when I tried to let them in, I was told: “yeah but not like that.”

The thing that I’ve learned about being a survivor is that everyone wants you around when they think you’re going somewhere, but as soon as they see you stumble, as soon as they see that you’re not as strong as they need you to be, they shun you, and this happens over and over again until you find people with the courage to face the demons beside you, instead of from the shadows.

I have spent my life, fighting shadows, and now that I’ve put myself out there, I am starting to see the signs that it’s working. I am becoming more comfortable with the idea that I can be successful, although I admit, I am absolutely terrified of what that means.

I’m already dealing with someone who thinks he can enter my home whenever he pleases, and cops who think that might be overreacting, when I have thirty years worth of statistics to back up the idea that the behavior I’m describing happens to FAR too many women…right before they are murdered. And that’s not even what I’m afraid of.

I’m not afraid of Death, I’m afraid of what comes after Death, I’m afraid that I’ll have regrets, I’m afraid that I won’t get to say “hey I did that, I survived those things,” and more than any of that, I’m afraid of the people who see me as the Loud Mouth Brown Girl and want to tell me how strong I am.

The strength doesn’t come from surviving the encounter of the abuses, it comes from fighting back, from finding your voice again and standing up and choosing to make different choices. Demanding more of yourself than you thought were possible, that’s where the strength comes from, and when people tell me to slow down or be less of myself, I just have to turn and walk away. It’s not rudeness, it’s just me deciding that no, I am not going to do that.

Six hundred posts to someone who isn’t a blogger don’t mean shit. Five hundred doesn’t mean much either, but it’s a really cool achievement for me. This is the first thing in my life that I have ever really claimed as my own, and I’ve worked really hard to get my name out there as a writer.

I’d like to say I’m where I thought I’d be but honestly I’m ahead of myself at this point because I’ve already written and published a book, and I thought I’d just be starting right about now. I have Black Girls Write Too, and all the amazing members to thank for that because those women are KILLING it in the writing and publishing game.

When we’re talking about turning our pain into content and entertainment for the masses, people really don’t see the amount of work that goes into a single blog post, let alone a book. They don’t see how deeply we writers and creators have to dig, in order to pull out all the crap, so we can turn it into something pretty to package and give away or sell.

I’m wearing a dress today. I haven’t worn dresses in years, but all summer I wore shorts, and now I’m wearing a dress, and that’s pretty cool. I stopped wearing dresses and skirts in the ’20s because men kept grabbing my vagina and trying to “claim it” with hands I didn’t want to touch me.

Now that I’m home all the time I am FINALLY becoming more comfortable with my body again, and even occasionally thinking about letting my hair down.

I’m also starting to recognize that how many emotions are tied to my body. If my hair is up it means I don’t feel safe, if I’m wearing jeans or pants it means I’m trying to be more serious, I didn’t think about that before because I was so focused on HOW I was feeling, and not about what I was doing with how I was feeling.

I am my own science experiment, and my hypothesis is that with enough time people can learn to recognize their behavior, but I honestly don’t think that being locked in dark rooms is how they’re going to get there. The more that I write about mental health, the more that I look back on encounters with doctors and “professional mental health experts,” the more I wonder if scientists actually know shit about human behavior.

There are 7 billion people on this planet. Seven Billion. Each with their own perception, and their own view of the world, each with their own challenges, sacrifices, and traumas, how in the hell can any one way of doing things possibly help every single one of us survive the shit this planet throws at us?

People keep telling me that I should go to school to be a counselor, but the only reason I would go is to learn what they are teaching these “professionals,” so that I can do it better. I’ve just found that with the aid of the RIGHT medication, and enough time, I am finally starting to feel stronger, and less afraid.

I know exactly what the worst possible scenario is, and I know how to ensure that I prepare to make sure that it’s not bad at all. I know how to ensure that I am safe, and I’ve acquired enough knowledge to make sure that I stay safe, even if the whole world thinks that I am crazy.

Four years of waiting and worrying, and now I am trying to do the best I can while dealing with an abusive personality that won’t let go of what they think they have a right to own. I know how to handle this, and that’s the weirdest part. I’m not “afraid,” of what will happen to me, I’m afraid of what I’ll lose. I’ve never felt like that before because I’ve never had anything to lose.

I am building something, on my own, and while I have a ton of people waving their hands and ready to dive in, I’m only choosing people that I know that are or have been, in the place that I’m in. Women specifically, who understand what it’s like to go through trauma, and to be “Othered” by disability, race, creed, nationality, size, or orientation.

I am taking everything I know about the people of my past, and I am making careful decisions today that I wouldn’t have made four years ago. I am not rushing into things head first, and I am allowing myself to take time, even though I get frustrated with how long things are taking.

Yesterday I had a really great conversation with Kendra from Accounting by Design Consulting, and as we talked I realized it took her to get 9 years where she is. I have no right to expect less than that, to work for less than that. It’s going to take time to turn Loud Mouth Brown Girl into a real Empire, a really amazing one at that, and if I don’t actually celebrate the small wins like 600 posts, then what the hell is the point?

I could go on forever about how hard shit is, but the truth is that it’s also fun too. Yes I am alone a lot of my days but I still laugh, I make voices up in my head, I release them with my mouth. I tell myself stories, I let myself cry and I am literally the reality star in my mind that I love watching on television but have no interest in being in reality. I am the star of my own show, and no one gets to stomp on that, not anymore.

Today Debra turns 47 years old. This woman has survived all the things she had to survive to get to 47 and all I can think is “man, you’re so lucky.” I remember being around five or six when I thought that my 60+-year-old grandmother had to be about 30, and I remember the delighted laugh she released when I told her.

I’m 38 and I can’t wait to be forty, I can’t wait until I turn 60 and my hair turns white, so I can get audaciously loud with rainbow-colored hair that I don’t have to bleach. I can’t wait to travel the world with my person whoever she/he/they end up being, building a life with them. There is SO much that I want to do, and I am going to do those things, because why the fuck should I give up my dreams, just because the people around me want to stomp on them?

Keep stomping, I’ll be over here building. Six hundred and 1 tomorrow, if every single post was a year of my life, I’d be a very wise woman by now.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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