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Rape’s Seed and Canola

Supreme Court of Canada decision Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser, 2004, was a patent challenge revolving around canola seed. Monsanto did alter the genetic make up of canola and subsequently patented the altered genetic make up.

The wind picked up the seeds and blew them around the area beyond the boundaries of the property of neighboring field.

A farmer had collected the seeds from neighboring canola field that had be strewn upon the road and stuck on power poles.

When Monsanto discovered that the farmer was growing and then selling the patented canola crop, litigation followed.

While sitting in my property law class I was reminded of the smell of the yellow fields in northern Alberta. Some days we would ride our bicycles down the dirt road out to the Rape Seed fields. We were told Rape Seed was another name for canola.

In fact, canola and Rape Seed are not the same. However, the memories triggered from my youth and the sea of yellow along the highway on our way to Grande Prairie or Edmonton. We would travel these roads often after the onslaught of domestic abuse that often occurred within the four thin walls of our mobile home (aka trailer park).

Oil Seed Rape Fields, Bad Doberan, Germany

Rape’s Seed

ocean’s yellow

pollen rays’ heat

fields prairie’d canola

line after line

after line

seeded affects transform

seasoned processes copulate

birth sprouts erupt seeds sown

blossomed rape spurts into fields

waves and swells roll out

aired reproduction

nasal pollenated rape

annual swells roll

in expansion

fluids collect

through rolling ocean’s

swollen yellow

rape pollenates children’s lungs

rapeseed_field_in_bloom___anthony__ks_by_bvilleweatherman-d6bjtil

A Poem About Dr. Cindy Blackstock

I wrote this set of pieces in 2013. In 2014 some of the following was published in my masters in social work. This series was included in a manuscript competition I won on indigenous topics relating to culture, law and land in 2013.

Dr. Cindy Blackstock is one of the most important Canadians that walks among us. She is one of my heroes. Her work is beyond important to all Canadians.

Doctor – I

I have read articles. books. your research. offered solutions. people before profit. children before. money. first people’s children. all children. the platform.

Black-stock’d – II

you said:

state of lived experience

First Nations’ children

incredulous human rights violation

repeated, perhaps blatant

definitively despicable

our nation, our short history

Canadian perpetration

politicians cannot afford

indigenous burdens

housing, education, food, language

and equitable social service

commodify, accept, tolerate, perpetuate, perpetrate

racial discrimination

profitable margins, of mainstream dominant class

multi-cultural-mosaic-exclusion

agreements negotiated

treatied sovereignty

ignored, suppressed, push down, down, and done

at the cost

of injustices served

contextualized CFCSA

extended Canadian apartheid

Child, Family and Community Services Act

Indian Act

residential schools

60s scooped

into group homes

kicked out of hospitals

homeless wandering

without family, community, ceremony, language, land

displacement

corrections

words of Duncan Campbell Scott

legal prohibition

of language

legal prohibition,

culture and gatherings

legal prohibition,

speak mother tongues

legal prohibition

parental rights

government controlled

while stealing

babies in the night

like a mongoose snatches eggs

from robin’s nest

150 years, kidnapping

 

I cry – III

for children

my children

non-First Nations children

‘indian’ babies

all children

are someone’s babies

without parents, families, or community connections

all children!

watch, observe and learn

Canada penetrates deeper, deeper and

inward colonization

imperialists take babies

under, and for, ‘the law’

British law rules

all babies

as children watch and learn

through observation

we teach snatched babies

ripped families hearts bleed screams

helpless, hopeless, I cry

all children learn

of assimilation-accept-ability

 

Problematic – IV

white faced suits deny, discourage, dishonor

and then disrobe

their captive indian princesses

with Olympic feathers and buckskin Ramsey rooms

judges disrobe, cops turned blind eyes

as highways cry missing women

girls, children, exploitation

sexual domination cropped and farmed

agricultural-education-assimilation

sex and violence

in systems built in

built on fortification

power bases cry babies

women’s blackened eyes

men staggering alone

hitting each other

 

Poisonous Plates – V

assimilation meals

lateral violence deserts

blamed for crying alcohol

for wine-ing

and dining, whimpers

about life

dirty systems

poisonous plates

 

Governments Words – VI

these are the things I grew up hearing

I borrowed these views

now returned to their rightful owners:

pull up your fucking socks

lazy dirty ‘Indians’

given good-god-damned

money

these are the things I grew up hearing

I borrowed these views

now returned to their rightful owners:

worked jobs, twenty seven years

taxes paid

fed brown children

squaw women

these are the things I grew up hearing

I borrowed these views

now returned to their rightful owners:

killed, selling two dollar assholes

whores

abandon children

civilize savages

these are the things I grew up hearing

I borrowed these views

now returned to their rightful owners

 

Witnessed – VII

Wall-street suited economics

oppressive governing neo-cons

damn any-and-every-one, deemed differentiated

divided by privilege

antithetical under-grounded scholars

research, observe, compile, articulate, write and write

and write right words righteous

smudge, pray in honor

to your journey

sweat prayers, for your momentum

requests ability carried out

mother natures’ will, assist support

witness, this revolution

 

Cindy B -VIII

I want to thank you

on behalf of all

us un-indians

ethno-centric-mono-culture

all non-First Nations Canadian peoples

us immigrants. the ignorant. the mean. the killers. the rapers. the homophobes. the racists. the powerful. Dominant. and sickened. superiority complexified society.

I, thank you. for articulation. research harvested ceremonial. produced in language. and understood structures. by masses. Now. who can deny?

success. teaching the government. how to treat children. people and community. my nechi-nehiyewan. Cree. Salteaux. Secwepmc. Anishinaabe. my friends. lovers. Partners. Colleagues. and comrades in academia. my brethren on the streets. homeless. and those of us who moved on. Survived. your praxis. a revolution. this. my honor. honorary shout-out. for you. for the kids. and families. the world. country. and nation

hiy-hiy

Moostoos faces discrimination from OXFORD Property Group

First, I want to introduce you to my teacher and brother Gary Moostoos.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.07.52 PM

Before I tell you about the incident that screams discrimination against Gary Moostoos on behalf of OXFORD Properties Group Inc., I want to offer you a quick bio about myself, which will make more sense by time you get to the end of this article.

My name is Daniel Gallant and I am a former violent white supremacist. I was a street kid for many years in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. I suffered sexual and physical abuse as a child. I was angry and lost. Since that time I changed my life. At the age of 26 I started post-secondary school with a grade seven education. After my first year of school is when I met Gary Moostoos, which was about 12 years ago. Since that time I have worked as a frontline human services worker, group home manager, counselor, researcher and advocate. I now have a BA in First Nations Studies and a Masters in social work, which Gary Moostoos is included within. I am currently a student of law in Kamloops, BC. My public work can be found in the media throughout the world. I am currently the director of Exit Canada, which is a non-profit that assists other violent extremists to leave violent lifestyles.

I tell a story of how Gary and my other friend Jerry have taught me lessons. This story called Scars of Past won a writer’s award at the UNBC Weaving Words National Indigenous Storytelling festival in Prince George during 2013. This is attributed and dedicated to Gary and Jerry.

…so basically my point is that without the support and love from people like my teacher and brother Gary Moostoos I would likely have continued on with my violent rampages and not experienced the profound degree of change that I have been gifted. Now more about OXFORD, Gary and the issue at hand…

Gary Moostoos is a First Nations Cree Elder in Edmonton, Alberta; Gary is from Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 12.08.24 PM

Gary’s work is recognized across Canada and he worked along with Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings across the nation. Media, Edmonton Police Services and the community of Edmonton have recognized Gary as an elder, teacher and healer.

Gary Moostoos has dedicated his life to assisting and supporting indigenous peoples who are in need. Gary’s commitment to helping people started over a quarter century ago. He worked in a hospital supporting people whom were sick, then as a youth worker for many years he assisted youngsters in connecting with cultural practices and spiritual teachings. Gary currently is employed as he works with homeless populations and survivors of the residential school system.

Instead of recounting his words I am going to offer you Gary’s facebook post of an incident he faced this week at the downtown Edmonton City Centre:

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“Oh my gosh I was eating noodles at City Center food court & a couple Security approach & stand over me as I eat. They asked for my name I asked Why? The one says that I looked suspicious & look like a person they banned. I asked who was this person & that they see me every day as I shop there & have to walk through there everyday to get to work. They then said I had to go. I asked to speak to the supervisor. Then she came with another fellow. She took a picture of me and said that I was associating with people who are banned & known criminals. I said I worked for the homeless and an Elder & I associate with whom ever needs support. Soon there was 8 of them & they asked me to leave my meal & go. I kept my composure I did not swear or was rude. 12 security escorted me out and said I was banned for 6 months. People were telling me they were banning native people all day. So when they approached me I turn my video on my phone. I wanna cry with all sorts of emotions running through me mostly NOW I feel how my inner city folks feel when they are targets. I don’t even wanna listen to the video. What should I do? I made a few calls but it leads back to one of the security that escorted me out… “

Aside from the racism Gary faces everyday in Edmonton, which I have witnessed first hand, he is now being condemned by a security team for merely doing his job. This is gross application of discriminative property rights in quasi-public areas conducted by a team of individuals who appear to have little regard for vulnerable populations and indigenous peoples.

I want to add a few more pieces of information about Gary Moostoos [see bottom for links to Gary’s work]. I include this link to my master’s thesis in social work because Gary has been monumental in my personal transformation from a violent white supremacist to a social justice advocate and practitioner. Gary has been instrumental in my life and the change therein. Moreover, I have gone on to help many people, which would not have been possible without Gary. Not only is Gary a healing practitioner for aboriginal peoples but he is also a practitioner for assisting all Canadians heal from racism and violence.

The conduct of the security team that works for OXFORD Property Group Inc. who manage the majority of the downtown Edmonton core has made a huge mistake by seemingly conducting themselves unprofessionally and abusing their powers as property owners, whether legally and or morally and ethically. Whether this conduct was manifested due to racial profiling or whether it was due to affiliation to ‘undesirables’ is merely seen as a minuet discrepancy or syntax. Either way OXFORD are reportedly attacking vulnerable peoples, Edmonton indigenous peoples and vulnerable people living in poverty, in the downtown Edmonton core who often access particular shops in the City Center Mall.

A direct and public apology to Gary Moostoos would be appropriate. A political gesture to show support for Edmonton’s homeless community from OXFORD Properties Group Inc. would also seem appropriate in response to this awful scenario. A gesture of this sort from OXFORD would both compliment and assist Gary Moostoos in his work of helping our society change. We as a society need to collectively move away from discrimination and abuse of powers. OXFORD should recognize the amount of work and the degree of Gary Moostoos’ commitment and work that he embodies.

Gary deserves more respect than this from those employed by OXFORD Property Group.

Here is a list of articles about Gary Moostoos’ work:

Aboriginal Voices Profiles

Spiritual adviser brings hope to the lost

Ottawa Citizen

Local Work

Boyle Street Stabbing

Traditional Drumming

Homeless Memorial

Boyle Street Memorial

 

For related blogs written by Daniel Gallant please click below:

Cultural Native Pride v. White Racial Pride

Bear Attack leads to Racist attack

Supremacy and Law

Daniel Gallant’s Masters Thesis: A “Former” Perspective: An Exploration of the Disengagement Process from Violent Right Wing Extremism

*At the bottom of this post you can download the pdf document of Thesis.

A “Former” Perspective:

An Exploration of the Disengagement Process from Violent Right Wing Extremism

By

Daniel Clayton Gallant

 B.A. (First Nations Studies), UNBC, 2011

M.S.W., UNBC, 2014

Abstract

In today’s society the rise of extremist/terrorist violence is an increasing threat. As a researcher, and a former violent right wing extremist, with experiential knowledge of the realistic threats posed by violent right wing extremists in Northern BC, Western Canada, and abroad; this study contributes insights into developing effective counter-extremist messaging. This autoethnographic study aligns the researcher’s personal, professional, and academic experience into a theoretical interpretive analysis that explores and identifies thematic categories within the disengagement process, found within the published stories of four separate violent right wing extremists. These identified themes reflect that there are a number of common experiences amongst the dataset, former violent white supremacists. This study also details aspects of the author’s disengagement process, which includes post-secondary education as healing, First Nations cultural influence, and the concept of decolonization. This study is a seminal induction for the concept of decolonization into counter-extremist studies.

hiy-hiy

Daniel Gallant Thesis 2014

Advocacy, Consultancy, Public Speaking and Research Website: Daniel c. Gallant

Here is the link to my new website for public speaking, advocacy, consulting, research and educational resource development.

http://www.danielcgallant.com

Beyond Guilt and Shame

I sit here, tonight, feeling and thinking and reflecting. I am celebrating that my blog has surpassed another goal; to surpass my readership record. I am glad that the most popular article on my blog is not a negative controversy; rather it is an inspirational transformation.

I am, however, left with remnants of facts from the past. Hard realities. Here is a sample of what that can look like.

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Bruise Faced Child

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Biography in Cree

My undergraduate degree took eight years to complete. I took two years of Cree language at the University of Alberta. The reason I took Cree as a second language was two-fold.

(picture of me in 2004)

Dan-May 28-04 004

First, it was necessary to take a second language course in order to meet the perquisites for the Criminology program I wanted to apply for. I did not want to take the second bi-lingual language of Canada, French, because in my youth I used to hate French class. I was forced to learn French in elementary school. I did not know any French people or anyone who spoke French. I felt I was being forced to do something I did not want to do. That was in my first four years of elementary school. I would sit in class hungry all the time.

Throughout my childhood I was chastised by my parents for eating to much. I was always hungry. I would eat the food they provided and still feel anxious with hunger. Perhaps that is because we were constantly fed boxed food with little nutritional value; or perhaps it was because I was a “bottomless pit” and a “big mouthed biaffron,” as my step-dad liked to call me. Nonetheless, the food I ate left me feeling empty, hungry and anxious. So to quench my hunger I relied on sugar. I became a sugar addict at a young age. In between classes I would take packets of sugar out of my pocket and dump it into my hand. I would throw the sugar into my mouth and then I would chase it back with water from the fountain in the school hallways. I remember being resistant and outright angry that I had to sit in that “stupid class.” My heart would be racing as I licked my lips in search of any left over grains of sugar. The only thing that got me through my classes was the sugar I kept in my pocket; sometimes white sugar, other times icing sugar.

Since I had no interest in French language I decided I would take Latin courses to meet the prerequisites for the Criminology program I wanted to apply to. After registering for Latin class I had an epiphany: “why was I wanting to take  Latin?”

I considered Latin because the white supremacist organization I was a member of, World Church of the Creator (now called the Creativity Movement, due to a legal battle over trademark infringement of the name) utilized Latin within their higher ranking members i.e. reverends and supreme leader. As I was only two years out of the grips of addiction at that point and only a year from when I had separated from white supremacists and racist skinheads; I was still facing many issues. I was in midst of an identity crisis. My intuitive thoughts and feelings were that I was best off to avoid Latin as it was to close to the the white supremacist doctrine. If I had truly wanted to leave that life behind me, I had to distance myself from that type of thinking. I grabbed the University of Alberta’s school calendar and looked to see what other options they had for second language courses.

I went through a long list of languages I did not have any interest in. Spanish was the only real interest I had because I had developed a deep attraction to several women with South American accents. After considering that motivating factor for taking a class, I had decided that my attraction of a women’s accent was probably not the best reason to base my decision on. I continued through the list and came across the Plains Cree language. A light went on. I lived on a reserve up north. I stayed in a cabin with two elders in their 90s who barely spoke English, they spoke Cree and Saulteaux (Anishnabe variation [Ojibiway, Oji-Cree]).

As I was not very insightful, and quite ignorant of the depth of my racist programming I thought to myself: “If I took a primitive language like Cree it may benefit me. I am trying to change my thinking. What better way than to challenge myself to take a primitive language with very little words. Maybe I could learn to connect to my more primitive self in order to simplify my intellectualism.”

I was quite full of myself. I was very ignorant. In retrospect, I had an abhorrent and archaic racist worldview that was riddled with paradoxes, oxymorons and contradictions. My thinking that Cree was “primitive” was grossly misinformed. I am ashamed of myself when I think back to that type of thinking, which I had for most of my life. It is embarrassing to know that I had even lived on Indian Reserves, my close friends had been First Nations, and yet I still viewed ‘them’ as wild indians that hunted with bow and arrows and barely able to speak. I was programmed by the society I was raised in to have an inherently racist perspective of indigenous peoples. After considering my thoughts at the time, I also had another pivotal consideration that led me to selecting Cree as a second language.

(picture of me in 2004)

From Edm Journal

When I was thirteen years old my Kohkum took me in. She gave me a home. She had never abused me. Neither did her daughters. The women in the Lalonde family were the most caring women I had ever known. They loved me, even when after I had dedicated my life to right wing extremism. I was not biologically attached to the family, but they treat me like they do the rest of the family. Even though I am not in close contact anymore the community network they have spreads across western Canada. Everywhere I go, I meet and see people tied to the Lalonde family. They know my personal story, or at least general pieces of it. I had even gone to a friends family christmas dinner in another city only to find out that one of my Auntie’s from the Lalonde family was close with the people I was dining with. I was, and am, welcomed and loved by people all over western Canada due to the fact that Kohkum took me in when I was young and loved me like no one else would.

Decidedly I enrolled in the Cree class. I ended up taking two years of the Cree language classes at University of Alberta. The class began by conversations between students and teacher; first we learned about one another. We did not even engage with Cree language until we got to know one another first. We got to know and trust each other. Even people from my class knew  Kohkum, who lived in another province. She is a respected Elder and Matriarch.

As the class went on, I realized and experienced many profound personal and social transformations. The lessons I received from the Cree class are too long to list. I will emphasize these lessons within my future studies and autobiographic writings. For now, I am going to share with you one of the first assignments I was able to put together within the first year of my Cree studies.

Please take into consideration that I am NOT fluent in Cree language; I am not a Cree speaker; I do not represent the Cree language, culture, nor people; I am not claiming that this is a perfectly contextualized example of Cree language or literacy…but…

This is something I am proud of accomplishing. It took everything I had to not cry in gratitude when I stood in front of a class of indigenous students who welcomed me, even with my hateful past, and to give me the opportunity to grow and learn and unlearn my racist ideology. The students, professors, language holders, and Matriarchal Elders who taught me in those two years have profoundly affected my life today; more than a decade later. The work I do would not be possible without the inherent lessons I had learned from the students and teachers and the beautiful structure of inherent teachings built into a dynamic and complex language system of the Cree peoples. Throughout my learning process I had two close friends, who are my brothers now. They supported me and helped me throughout my time in the Cree language courses. These men are spiritual support for me.

Everywhere I go both Chief Jerry Goodswimmer and Gary Moostoos walk with me. I can hear their lovingly teasing comments about my learning and bastardizing their language. I can hear their laughs and see their beautiful smiles. These two men have profoundly impacted my life. They taught me love and had more patience for me than I think I have had for anyone or anything. They worked with me and mentored me to unlearn my racist mind. They also know I am still on this path, and I am doing the best I can. Gary had gifted me with the most valuable gifts I had ever received in my life.

(picture of me in 2005)

Feather 003

He showed me the truth about love and acceptance. My Kohkum, my Aunties, Gary, and Jerry…all of you…I love you and respect you. I thank you with deep gratitude for the roles you played in my life and the lessons you offer me even when you are not physically present.

hiy hiy

Cree Language Biography

by

Daniel Gallant

June 2, 2004

Nitisîyihkâson Daniel Clayton Gallant. Nîya nîstotanaw kekâtahtosâp kayâ sihaskiya. Nikînihtâwikinihk Spirit River, Alberta.

Nikîwîkinihk nisto provinces. Nohtâwiy Geoffrey Stanley Thomas, kikînipin. Kînihtâwikiw Walesihk. Kînipiw kekâmitâtahtosâp kikîhitahtopiponew. Kikînipiw Spirit River-ihk, Alberta. Nimihtatnipihâw nohtâwiy nipimohtehon.

Nitayâwâwak newo awâsisak. Peyak nitânis, Jessica Amy Rex, ohci nistosâp itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw White Rockohk, British Columbia. Peyak nitânis, Madisson Lynn Gallant, nikotwâsik itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw Fort Saint Johnihk, British Columbia. Peyak nitânis, Daryan Patricia Gallant, newo itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw Chetwyndihk, British Columbia. Nikosis nîso itahtopiponew. Kînihtâwikiw Dawson Creekohk, British Columbia. Mâka epeyakoyân ekwa nimihtâtâwak nitawâsimisâhak. Nikîhayâwâw peyak atim, kitisîyihkâson Tyrus, nikotwâsik itahtopiponew.

Nikîhitohtân peyakosâp kiskinohamâkot’kamikwa pâmayes ayinânew ehayamihtâyân. Pâmayes nikîtitahtopiponân tepakohposâp nikîwîkin ohci nîso askîya kipahotô kamikohk. Nikamaciapacihtânminihkwewin ekwa nikîmâcikon’tamisiwepayihcikewin pâmayes ehitahtopiponeyân nistosâp. Papâmi nikîtitahtopiponân nîsotanaw nikotwâsikosâp nikîmâcihiyinîhkah. Nikîwâpamâwak mistahihowîcihtâsowak.

Nikîmôniyâwohpikin, nikîtâpwewakeyimâw môniyâwak ayâwewak sôhkisiwak ekwa tipeyihcikâte nehiyawaskîwin ekwa nehiyawayisiyiniwak. Ninisitaweyimâw nipakwatamawâw. Nikocîkweskînâw. Nikakweskînâw. Nikîkweskînâw. Nitatamihâw, nikahawîyakmâmawôhkamâton. Nikehtinâw ekosi ayisiyinîw.

Nikatahkamnehiyaw’kiskinohamâkosin. Nicîhkesten nikiskinohamâson. ay ay.

English Translation

My name is Daniel Clayton Gallant. I am 29 yrs old. I was born in Spirit River, Alberta. I lived in 3 provinces.

My father is Geoffrey Stanley Thomas, he had died. He was born in Wales. He died at age 19. He died in Spirit River, Alberta. I grieved the loss of my father through my life.

I have four children. My one daughter, Jessica Amy Rex, is 13 yrs old. My 1 daughter, Madisson Lynn Gallant, is 6 yrs old. My one daughter, Daryan Patricia Gallant, is 4 yrs old. My son, Kieron Geoffrey Joseph Gallant, is 2 yrs old. But I live alone and I miss my children. I had one dog, his name is Tyrus, and he is 6 yrs old.

I went to 11 different schools by grade 8. Before age 17 I lived in jail for about 2 yrs. I started to abuse alcohol, and I started to abuse drugs before age 13. About the age of 26 I started to heal. I saw many social workers.

I grew up like a white person. I did believe white people had power and controlled Cree land and Cree people. I recognize my hate. I try to change. I have changed.  I am indebted to helping all people. I respect all people.

I will continue to learn Cree. I enjoy my teacher thank you.

Glossary

Môniyâwohpiki: AI- grew up like white person,

Pimohteho: VA-travel through life, live one’s life

Mihtat: PRE-V PART.-grieved

Tâpwewakeyim: TA-believe in

Môniyâs: AI- white people

Ayâw: TA- to have plural

Sôhkisi: AI-power or powers

Tipeyihcikâte: II-to control or govern-ii

Nisitaweyim: TA- recognize

Pakwatamaw: TA- hate,dislike

Kweskin: TA-change

Nikakweskinâw: TA-I will change

Nikîkweskinâw: TA-I have changed

Atamih: TA- indebted

Mâmawôhkamâto: AI- help

Nikahawîyakmâmawôhkamâton: AI- I will help anyone

Kehtin: TA-respect

Ayisiyinîmwak: TA-people (plural)

Nehiyaw’kiskinohamâkosi: AI- to learn cree

Nikatahkamnehiyaw’kiskinohamâkosin: AI- I will continue to learn cree.

cîhkesta: TI-enjoy

Kiskinohamâso: AI- to be taught

Sex Abuse, Phones, Suicide

Tonight I am unable to shake the memories of a conversation I had with a friend last year. It is more like an internal haunting. The conversation I had with my friend (R) reminded me of two other conversations I had with other friends (f) and (D).

Conversations about the tormenting ongoing agony of experiencing victimization. The child physical and sexual abuse that we all shared, perpetrated by different people in different spaces. Our experiences so different but the spiritual scars so similar. Every one of these three friends and conversations is about life and death. Tragic stories. My friends dead.

I am left with so many questions…

First the back story:

I was 17 (21 years ago) and nearly completed an 18 month sentence in juvenile detention. My friend (R) called me at the center to tell me our close friend (F) hung himself. My friend (F) who killed himself told me several times when we were younger why he wanted to die sometimes, we both trusted one another with our secret suicidal ideation and the abuse and pain that wouldn’t go away.

(This poem was written when I was 17, then edited and added to in 2012)

Ganged Brothersa.Screen Shot

Gang Brothers b.Screen Shot

(R) and I never talked for years, and years. Then last year (R) called out of the blue. He wanted to change his life. And he said “Daniel you are the only one in our circle of friends who climbed out of the hole we grew up in.  You understand me and I trust you like a brother. I want to kill myself. I can’t live like this another day.”

We talked about sex abuse and beatings and the crazy violent years we shared. He was hurting so badly, and secretly so was I. He was drunk, and I was sober, for twelve years. I invited him to get help and then he could come stay with me and clean up instead of suicide.  “ok. I will be there in a week,” (R) said excitedly.

He never did show up.

(R) called again a few weeks later pissed drunk and said “I am finished. I can’t keep living like this anymore. With this. I am done Daniel. I had to call you because I know you are the only one who really knows me and understands me. We been through the same shit.”

He reminded me of the conversation we had years ago after he was convicted of raping a girl.

“Daniel, you were the only one who sat with me and told me to my face what you thought of it honestly. You did that without telling me I was a piece of shit. You understood why I did it. If I even did it. Hell I don’t even remember if I did. But I do know I could have done it. It was done to me. You know that Daniel. You know what those bastards did to me. When you told me our friendship had to end but you will always love me. You were the only one who ever did that.”

I couldn’t lie to (R)  because I loved him, and I sure as shit could not lie to him last year when he called me on the phone disclosing that he could not continue living anymore. I did know in my heart why he wanted to die. It made sense. It was logical.

When you live with the memories of being a victim of child sexual abuse and physical abuse, which we both suffered and cannot trust anyone, or feel close to anyone, life feels pretty pointless. Its awful feeling like the world is pitted against you and the pressure inside the skull hurts so much you just want to die for relief. I understood the issues and thoughts (R) was describing. All of the stress from dealing with perpetrating abuse on top of all the abuse he had endured must have been way to much to deal with. I know I would have killed myself if I had to deal with that. I am glad I never did those ‘things.’ I was sad and hurt that he did. I watched my mother get beat and raped. That was an unforgivable act. I knew (R)’s spiritual tearing was very deep.

I couldn’t lie to him.

“Dude, you know I won’t lie to you. I love you. I often think sometimes that dying would have been easier than what I’ve had to live through in order to get to where I am. I lived for years on end in sheer emotional and mental agony, and suicidal, just to get to a place where I do actually want to live everyday. It would have been easier to die, but I had chosen to live. It does get better. It takes a long time, but it can happen. It ain’t easy bro.”

We talked a little longer. (R) said he had to end it all. I told him that I would miss him and that he knew I trusted him to do what he needed to do out of necessity and not malice. He just wanted the pain to stop. Me and (R) understood each other deeply. We both cried and said “goodbye.”

Soon after (R) was gone. He died blue, in a house that I used to party in when we were young.

When I got the news that (R) was gone, I was instantly reminded of a time when I was (D)’s twelve step sponsor. He was a former white supremacist skinhead. He would often call me upset that he couldn’t stay clean. He was proud he was not being violent or racist. That was a big accomplishment for him. But the benzos had him by the balls. Then one night he called me and said he was going to get high instead of meeting me like we planned the week before. I gave him alternatives. He declined. We got off phone.

(D) called back later that evening, he told me that he was going to kill himself. We talked awhile. He said that I understood him like no one else had. (D) said his hatred burns so deep because of the abuse he suffered and he couldn’t continue living and putting his parents through more hell with his addiction. I had to be honest with him. I was sad about his decision, but I could relate to his feelings. I explained to him that I could be there for him as long as he lives to the best of my ability. But we both knew I could not relieve what ailed him. He was calm cool and collected. I know why he felt he had to do it.

I told him I would miss him and asked him not too do it. But he had too.He said good-bye and hung up the phone. I was standing there in my kitchen crying. I knew he was slipping away.

He overdosed hours later in a hotel room. That was eight years ago.

…My questions:

Why did I survive?

How did I end up being the go-to “goodbye” friend?

Why am I still alive?

Will living get easier when I am in a silent room alone?

Will the memories of my screaming bloody raped mother ever leave my mind and body?

Will the pain of my childhood bruised face ever heal?

Will my bruised ribs ever heal, so I do not have to continue breathing memories of constant short breathes?

Will I ever dream in peace?

Will I ever be loved enough that someone wants to be next to me everyday in the most vulnerable ways?

Will it be possible to find a person to be a constant in my life every night?

Is it possible to meet someone who does not intentionally or inadvertantly hurt me?

Where are my three friends now?

Will I see them again?

Or is it only in my words that I am able to help them heal through my healing?

Do I miss them?

Or do I miss the connections I shared with them?

…so many questions, but the biggest one…

How and why have I survived this long?