“Hey, Devon, What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?” “The Loud Mouth Brown Girl“…..”Are You Sure?”
I didn’t realize when I started this website, – or maybe I did and didn’t take into consideration – the fact that there would be total strangers, who I would meet, who would say things like “I remember you.”
When you start a website, you’re not always doing it because you want to be famous. Sometimes you just want a safe space.
That’s all I wanted. Safe space to talk about the things that I was going through, and what I’d been through. A lot of what I’d been writing about was about gang violence and the result of the gang violence that affected my life. Mental health issues, trauma, healing techniques, and even the occasional “how to blog well…” post because I wanted a break from writing about trauma all the time.
Yesterday while talking with an old friend and some new ones at Pride, I let some stuff slip, and I didn’t mean to, I didn’t intend to, it’s just been a REALLY long time since I talked with another person about why this specific website exists.
I forgot that not everyone is prepared to hear a trauma story, and I haven’t really had a need to practice my “this is what Loud Mouth Brown Girl,” speech is about yet, and it hurt. It hurt the people I was speaking to, and it hurt me because I didn’t mean to be so raw in person.
It’s been two years since I’ve spoken to anyone in public about my work, about the work I’m doing on myself, and yeah I guess the work I’m helping others to learn how to do on themselves, and so I realized I don’t actually know how to talk to people, and I’m not entirely sure that I ever did.
Speaking, and public speaking in particular has never been my strong suit. Many people who deal with mental health issues take an “I like making you feel uncomfortable,” approach to sharing their stories, mostly because they’re pissed off at the fact that they’ve had to deal with so much trash in order to survive, and I don’t even mean in order to have happy lives. I mean just to get from one day to the next, it’s like slogging through a river of garbage and shit.
SPEAKING OUT LOUD to other HUMANS is a gift, it’s not something I take LIGHTLY, but it’s CERTAINLY not an EASY task. It’s not a GIFT like other POWERS, it’s a PRACTICE. An ART Form, I Struggle With
I used to think I liked making people uncomfortable, and until yesterday afternoon at Pride that was the absolute truth. I really did because yeah I’m fucking tired, and I’m tired of the fact that instead of noticing that I was being raped and molested, adults were either actively participating in it, or keeping the secret to protect other adults instead of me.
I am a really hard-working online advocate, but the skills that I have online don’t always translate to the three-dimensional world, it’s something that I have to learn, so be patient with me.
When I began this journey six or seven years ago, I would literally sit down at the beginning of the year and say “well, we’ll see where we get when we get where we’re going,” not really having a plan to do anything other than writing what felt right to write.
Several people commented on my work – but the ones that stick to my mind are the people who tell me not to swear, and all I can think is if you’re focusing on my use of the word “fuck” then you’re not focusing on the rest of what I’m saying, and it really made me question whether or not I needed to change the way I write, or whether the people reading needed to change the way they consume information.
“GROWTH ISN’T Always COMFORTABLE, SOMETIMES it REQUIRES you to MAKE CHANGES you never thought of.”― Hopal Green
Part of me wonders if I have the right to make other people uncomfortable, given how many times my comfort was used as a weapon against me to make me behave in ways my abusers found acceptable.
“You know how it feels so don’t do it to others,” is a horrible way to live when it’s your job to share your story when it’s your job to learn how to educate others so that they understand things like privilege and power.
Several years ago, right after I started this website, or in the process of starting this website I should say, I went to an event for an organization called Nevr. Nevr is organized by Balbir Gurm, who is a woman my mother worked quite closely with when we were at the church.
I was excited to go because I wanted to learn because I wanted to celebrate my friend and her accomplishment at pulling the event together, but I honestly had absolutely no idea what I was in for.
There were hundreds of beautiful women, their friends, allies, partners, husbands, and wives at the event, and there was a play about domestic violence.
That was the true beginning of this website. Because I didn’t know how triggered I was going to be, I certainly didn’t expect the “play” to be as in-your-face as it was.
Now, I didn’t make any promises about how I would do things differently, but I will say that I was certainly surprised at the way that I was triggered because I honestly didn’t know that I had anything to be triggered about. I still hadn’t uncovered many of the memories that I have today.
A bunch of years ago I saw this tv show about a girl who had started out as an Instagram personality and then became a huge diva who dealt with mental health issues. When we start out following our dreams we never expect that we’re going to have to change everything about ourselves in order to be able to continue to follow our dreams.
None of the most famous people in the world started their careers knowing how to promote themselves, they just did whatever felt right.
If CHANGE Is A Part of GROWTH, then I am ALL For It, But I ALSO Understand That There Will Be STUMBLES and FALLS and NOW I AM PREPARED For It! Let’s Do This.
I keep thinking back to that letter I found on a gossip site about the unidentified actor who was told by all the people who worked for them, not to come out as bisexual. I’ve been thinking about the letter I wrote in return for weeks.
I can’t find it but I’m sure it’s here somewhere on the website, the point is, that in the letter I told the person to be themselves, to set themselves free, and to trust that their fans would catch them, but I forgot something during the process of writing that letter.
Zack Snyder’s daughter committed suicide, and instead of support, love, kindness and hope, (though there was some of that I know,) there were hundreds of thousands of people who laughed and who continue to use that event to troll and harass Snyder.
Now, I literally bought a certain streaming service access so I could watch The Snyder Cut – and it was 3 excruciating hours long, but I watched every single scene of that film because in my very minute way I wanted to say “yup, I support this human and their work and I always will.” That’s what happens every single time someone plugs into this website or picks up a copy of Uncomfortable.
I’m obviously not Zack Snyder, but I am – I realize more today than I did yesterday, – a public figure, and while I always understood what I have to say has merit, what I didn’t really understand was how hard it would be for other people to hear my story. And the worst part is that when someone who was listening to me heard my story, they turned and walked away, a white man.
I won’t talk about his circumstance, but I understood immediately why it was hard for him to hear my story, and I very much suspect it was because this, in particular, was a man who was trying to escape the same kind of trauma I’d been through.
The thing is, the kind of trauma that I went through isn’t something that “I” get to just walk away from. For too many victims we’re stuck with the pain, the sorrow and the never-ending nightmares for the rest of our lives.
So, if you see me in public, and you ask why I started the website, I’m going to tell you, and it’s not going to be easy to hear, but I’ll try to do my best to make sure I don’t leave you with open wounds, I promise and solemnly swear that with all my heart and soul, but I’m never going to be ashamed of telling my story again.
I don’t deserve to be ashamed, if you would like someone to be ashamed, then please lay that bullshit at the feet of the men – the grown-ass men – who raped me and dozens of little boys, just because they could.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall