“You Sound Happy”

That’s what Kevin Bacon said today. Okay obviously his name isn’t really Kevin Bacon, but like…I feel like giving him a pseudonym, so I’m giving him Kevin Bacon – KB for short.

KB is my new counselor, and he’s pretty bad ass. He actually gets me – and weirdly are you ready? He didn’t ask me to start talking about my childhood trauma – I mean we talked about it, but we started with where I am “today” instead of where I was thirty years ago. Which is awesome because I am fucking sick and tired of thinking about and being triggered by shit that happened ten, twenty, thirty years ago.

I want to focus on the now.

One of the things we talked about was how to push my fiction writing. For starters, I know that the last year and a half – two years, I’ve settled on a routine that has gotten me to this point, but I am starting to seriously feel stagnant, with my writing, with my life.

On Tuesday I had the most amazing opportunity to participate in #SexAbuseChat, and while I was looking at some of the people sharing their stories, for the first time in my entire life I wasn’t sitting there thinking “how do I get to this place.” I was offering up tools and ideas that helped me get to where I am today – the end result was that people were coming to me with their stories. Which…although not a first for me, left me wondering why.

KB smiled when I told him this story and said “you’re really hard on yourself.” Which made me stop and ask “am I?” and the answer is a resounding yes. I am too hard on myself. It isn’t that I push myself too hard, it’s that I am in a constant state of “you’re not good enough.

For me it comes from having my calls for help ignored  – it comes from the Catholic Church’s ridiculous idea that when you do something good it should be ignored. That being humble is the best way to be – to the point of self deprecation, because hey who wants to feel good about themselves right?

So KB tells me that I should focus on finding a place where I feel safe, and can take an hour to myself. Not playing games, or talking online, no answering the phone or doing anything that helps or benefits anyone else, but just spending an hour, getting to know me again.

It sounds so much easier than it is, to be perfectly honest with you. It’s hard as hell, who wants to be alone with their thoughts, who wants to surround themselves with the swirling chaos storm inside their own heads? I sure as hell don’t.

I don’t want to continue to pull that string.

“You sound happy, when I hear you talk, I hear the sound of happy, so what’s wrong with that?” He asked. I was surprised when he said that, that I sound happy. “Happy” isn’t exactly a word I would use to describe myself.

Miserable, cranky, sullen, annoyed with most human beings on the planet? yup those are words I would use to describe myself. In fact if given a list of 10,000 words I can easily think of 9,999 words I would use before I’d use the word “happy.” Yet here I am in this massage room of an office, talking with a man I’ve never met, who doesn’t know my entire history (at least not the way you guys do) and he thinks I sound like I’m happy.

What the hell does he see that I’m not?

The other word he used was “Transition.” As in, he said it sounds like I am finally beginning to take the steps I need to, to release myself from my past. I am moving on from what happened, into what could be, would be, might be. That gave me a moment of pause, because not only was I thinking the same thing, but the very idea of that scares the crap out of me.

What the fuck am I going to do without cranky, sullen, people hating depression? What ever would I do with happiness? I don’t know how the fuck to be happy. I don’t even know what the fucking word means!

I know that it’s not cowering in my house for the rest of my life.

KB asked me a few questions yesterday – all of which leads me to this. “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” I don’t fucking know!

I have 0 idea. That’s a lie I have an idea of where I want to be, of what I want to be doing, but what holds me back is fear that if I allow myself to want things, to look into the future, to start making plans, that something bad will happen.

“So what if it does Devon? You’ve been through bad, and worse…you haven’t died yet.” So sayeth the tiny voice within my head. So what’s the worst that could happen if I actually started taking (baby) steps towards having dreams of an actual future as a published author?

No matter what I want to have happen, or what I think will happen – no matter what this weird spiritual connection to the universe has shown me for my future, (fuck off I refuse to say the P word!) nothing will be -exactly- as I imag…….okay yeah I’ve had enough de ja vu moments to know that everything I’ve seen about my future will come true – I know I will be happy one day…so why can’t I just accept that? Why do I keep waiting and worrying about the other shoe dropping?

Because it always has. Because it always does.

No matter what good things have happened, they’ve been equally balanced by something bad happening…and my issue is learning to take the positives and hold onto them. I’ve been doing it ass backwards for thirty four years – I take the negatives and hold them to my chest like a fucking warrior Queen and I conveniently forget the good things – I pretend they didn’t happen.

You know why? because being in the darkness, holding onto it, living and reveling in it, is just fucking easier. Straight up. I rebel against happiness because it makes me uncomfortable. I’m not used to it.

So KB gave me a challenge this month – focus on one thing that makes you happy. Well no shit Sherlock that is my writing, obviously. Except that it doesn’t, I mean don’t get me wrong, I love that there are hundreds (okay like 102) of you amazing beautiful readers who love reading what I write here. It makes me feel like this entire journey is worthy of someone giving a shit. BUT! There’s always a BUT right?

I want to write fiction – I’ve always wanted to write fiction – and yes I know very well that I said my first book had to be about my life – I’ve been thinking that for almost thirty years. I always said if I was going to write a book about my life I’d better have a fucking interesting as all hell  story to tell.

Well, now I have an interesting as all hell story, and I don’t wanna tell it. Sure I’ve written it out in pieces, but never once have I sat down and begun to tell it from beginning to end. I admit, I am afraid.

Which is totally normal and fine, except for the fact that my fears about writing “my” story is keeping me from writing any story.

So fast forward after my first meeting with KB and I have to tell you, weird shit started to happen. First off after I left KB, I decided I was going to stop by my favorite Tattoo shop (because Downtown so why the hell not) Adrenaline, and see Bill – who’s the most arrogant and oddly talented fucker I’ve ever come across. Of course he’s busy, so as I’m leaving I see some homeless kids who helped me find the shop (it’s been awhile since I’ve been there) and grab them some pizza, because I know they are homeless and probably hungry. (Homeless punks are ALWAYS hungry) and then I see another kid so I stop and buy him a burger.

I did these things, not because they are the right thing to do – in all reality it’s because I’ve promised myself that with whatever blessings I receive I would return at least half as much as I get – so as far as I’m concerned, I am doing my due diligence here.

So as I’m heading home I’m trying to think really hard about good things that have affected me in a positive way. Things I can hold on to whilst trying to rush home because today carpets are getting cleaned and dammit I refuse to be late. I HATE being late (I was running late all damn day drove me mental!)

Now what I didn’t mention is that in my hurry to get to Downtown Vancouver I somehow left my keys in the cab I had to take up the hill so I could drop off my new jeans before heading back down the hill to grab the train.

So it’s been a busy day. Of course the cab driver called just as I was writing this post (yesterday) to drop the keys off (AWESOME) and even though I offered to pay him, he said no which was super duper kind of him.

So as soon as I have my house keys I go to the mail box and I find this:

So obviously I was of course smiling as I got that in the mail. It was exactly what I needed. And yet, as predicted, the other shoe did drop.

Someone in my life is angry that I went to counselling, Angry that I chose to pay for it, rather than take the free services offered by the government. (Because I’m on disability so why would I pay for a service I can get for free?)

I have chosen to reach out to a private counselor because I’ve used the government resources, and they haven’t helped. The natural response when you are working with someone who admits to having mental health issues, is to offer them drugs.

I’ve proven time and time again that does not work for me.

I need a different course. I need someone who can understand I’ve got a lot of baggage and that I need help extracting myself from the strings that have been holding me back. What I don’t need are pills that will do little more than dull the pain, while simultaneously keeping me in the darkness.

I’m not sorry that I will be spending $54.00 a month to get better, I am not going to apologize for the fact that I have found someone who can listen to what I have to say, and pull apart the blather and figure out what it is that I’m really trying to say.

I won’t apologize for finding someone who understands how to work with me, to push me towards my goals of being a healthy well adjusted published author.

That is what we’re going to focus on – how to deal with whatever is holding me back, so that I can one day be the person that I was always meant to be.

So now…even though I’m not feeling as great about my new journey as I was yesterday I am going to take Kevin Bacon’s advice seriously. I am going to take an hour each day for myself. I won’t focus on writing, I’m going to turn off my phone and television and I am going to be by myself. I am going to spend time getting to know who Devon really is.

I will also be trying to focus on one happy thing that is going to happen this month. I don’t know what it will be, or how it will show itself but I find one thing to be genuinely truly happy about, and rather than focusing on the other shoe dropping I am going to embrace the happy.

So for all those of you following me on this journey, I am going to ask now for your help, how do you find a moment of happiness to hold onto in the dark? It’s not something I’m very good at, so your advice would mean the world to me. I await your suggestions.


Devon J Hall


3 thoughts on ““You Sound Happy”

  1. That’s a hard question. My first response is that I’m not very good at it either. But, is that true, or am I just not paying attention to them, as you described so well? Am I letting them slide by un-honored? This I got to think about. More to come.

    BTW – I like KB’s style.

  2. Thinking more about this piece and your question brought to mind a few quotes. The first two were related to KB’s approach:

    “Allow yourself to see what you don’t allow yourself to see.” – Milton H. Erickson
    “People do not come into therapy to change their past but their future.” – Milton H. Erickson

    And this one is poking at me in the way that leads to an extended riff, but that has to wait for my operated on eye to be more comfortable with a long session on the computer.

    “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” ― John Stuart Mill

    I’m thinking about the need to just notice happy or smiling without questioning it, catching ourselves at it.

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