What Stan taught me

Stan taught me a lot, he taught me to be patient and let people approach when they are ready. For several months I was just there. He acknowledged me only to others, and only to make it known he wasn’t that fond of me.

But over time he grew to like me and we grew close. And from this relationship I learnt a lot. He was blunt. DUH was one of his favorite words. We laughed a lot.

I don’t know where he is today. We haven’t spoken in years and there was no formal goodbye. I try to live by the rule “no news is good news” so I trust he finally went home and he just doesn’t want to remember the ‘shit ol days’.

I thought I knew Stan through the shittiest years of his life, because he spoke of his foster mom a lot. All the recipes she taught him and life on the farm. I guess I assumed at some point he was taken from his family but had been one of the lucky ones. I might be wiser now, or just more cynical?

Closer to the end of my time knowing Stan he wrote a memoir and I learned otherwise … his life has pretty much been shit forever. But he had finally cleaned his life up and one of his final hurdles was trial. He served his time and there in jail he wrote his life story. I think it gave him strength. To see on paper just how much he had been through. He hoped other young people on the street could read it and find hope in it. I hoped people could read it and learn form it. But unfortunately most couldn’t. It was just too much.

“drunken bitch mother, asshole father”
Abuse, Foster home, abuse, foster home, children’s mental health treatment, abuse, rape, group home, sexual abuse… all by 9.
A social worker driving him half way here, another social worker driving him the rest.  
Finally a good home. “I think they took pity on …”
Then a downturn in adulthood… life on the streets
The part “no one needs to hear”

I learnt just how horrible a person’s life can be.
And just how many small, seemingly unrelated people, places and things could all interconnect into one very hurt and broken person.
And maybe because I know him I can get thru this memoir or maybe its cause I read it right in front of him.
But…. I often wonder how do we stop this?

Stan taught me about exclusion.
He never used that term… I’m not even sure he really even understood it himself.
But when I listened it’s what I learnt.

I often tell people about Stan’s boat analogy
He explained society is this nice little island
And he floats his boat in the water alone.
Sometimes he rows over to society and sets foot on their land.
But only for so long, then he rows back
And he tips his boat over his head to protect and recover.

This is better than before, before he consistently had his boat parked on a different shore.
Living on the outskirts of society
Not giving a fuck… drugs, alcohol, sex and jail

When we last spoke Stan lived in his boat in the middle of the water.
Often with his boat over his head protecting him.

His job once suspended him for fighting with a co-worker who for weeks had called him a “fag” and a “drunken Indian”
Then the job after that accused him of stealing… they felt really bad when the cook was caught the week later.
I think they said sorry.
But his middle finger was already in the air and he and resume were out pursuing other options.

Over the last few weeks, as more young Indigenous people’s stories are being shared.
I’ve thought a lot about Stan and his memoir
The graphic story…

It’s a story much like Tina’s.
A CHILD failed, over and over.

The message needing to be delivered.
Not one family, person, system or historical event failed Stan.
And Tina.
And who knows however many.

Society is failing them.
And it’s time we stop.

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