The Spirited Child and Her Chrysalis

I was a spirited child when I was younger and it was slowly taken away by somebody who wanted control. My childhood was stolen same as my mind and my body. Looking back I think little pieces were broken off until I was small inside. I will never understand how so many people could do what they did and still sleep at night feeling no pain. Laying restless often I don’t wish pain on them, but sometimes I wish they felt the way I feel in the darkness and the fuzz of the past.

I loved colours, I loved stories, I absolutely loved animals, and I loved smells. My favourite smell was electricity in the air right before a storm. Feeling the small buzz on the skin I could always tell when it would rain down and the calmness it left in the soul. I loved the lady bugs and their bright red shell on their tiny immaculate bodies. My mind was great but it was also drugged into mindlessness. You couldn’t tell on the surface but I felt it. I felt everything and I felt small much like the lady bug.

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A bee is a small insect with fuzzy bodies. They are busy but effective little creatures. The sound they make is exquisite. I was six years old when I imagined being a tiny honey bee flying away to a hive to produce something new. Watching the bees collect pollen from flower to flower care free but with so much to do. I was six years old when my mom came back and got in a fight for a reason I don’t remember. Six year old me was being watched by a man named Derrick we called him uncle. Tiny honey bee is what I wanted to be in the basement being watched by a monster named Derrick. I left in my mind to smell the dandelions the honey bee and I loved so much. Six year old me would soon be put on several drugs from Derricks mother, my foster grandmother.

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The cricket is a musical instrument. It rubs its legs together to make a chirping sound. If you sit still in a field, you can hear the cricket orchestra sing loudly with pride. For a tiny bug it has a mighty strong song. I would think of crickets while my grandmother would lie about my intelligence to the doctor that never asked if it was true. Fielding the cricket song as she claimed I was angry and out of control. I danced to crickets in my head as children called my Ritalin; I was but the blue pill being put into my body, my mind was not mine to have. Three pills each for ADHD, FASD, and psychosis. I heard crickets when the test proved that only one of these were accurate. I have ADHD but the lied continued to be carried out by a mentally sick woman. There’s a tinge of sadness to the cricket’s song: partly due to it being so quiet on its own. It’s a lonely song to play when people don’t listen fully to the orchestra of the cricket.

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Most people are afraid of spiders when really they are surprising creatures. Some are harmless while others carry a deadly poison. No spider web has the same web, however like humans the spider comes in all forms, and designs their creations. I admire the spider because the black widow represents the deadly creature of abusive parents like my mother and grandmother. One bite and it’s fatal for the prey. If you get a daddy long legs, you will have an innocent spider who only eats mosquitoes. They look scary, but they have a romantic notion to protect the home they inhabit. When my grandmother chose to take my siblings and me away for a while, I would find daddy long legs and watch it climb high on the walls. She hid us from our grandfather and any one looking for us kids. The black widow didn’t care how much poison she spread, only if she could spread it on her terms. The dadddy long legs undaunted by the black widow climbed high to live another day.

photo by Robsatski

Bugs are amazing creatures. They hold incredible senses beyond what someone sees and hears. I wished as a child to be a bug and be able to live life with purpose. Much like a bug somebody bigger could come around and squish you like it didn’t matter. I felt squished and the people who did it just kept going. How can a tiny creature with offerings of greatness and intrigue be killed by a thoughtless act and have it continue with no consequence? If I had a time machine I would watch the bugs with tiny me and show her she was just as strong as the bugs she seen in her mind. I would lead her to the chrysalis and tell her butterflies are the change of spirit she should love one day.

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Written by Ali Johnson

I Could Pick Myself Apart (Emotional Breakdowns)

In the last two weeks of starting work again after being a stay at home mom for two years I felt like I failed my children. On Thursday night I found myself crying fountains, screaming at my partner on the phone, kids in tow, after feeding them McDonalds. I sat in my red Buick Century clutching the steering wheel my kids watching their mother break down. I had gotten off night shift, my sons babysitter had to cancel, running on no sleep for twenty-four hours… complete dumpster fire of emotion. Officially last Thursday ranked ten out of ten emotional and physical exhaustion of motherhood and marriage.

If someone was on the outside watching me I’m sure they said I was crazy, check me into the mental institution and call it a day. I had no self-control left in the evening. I wanted to be a good mom and wife and do it all. My mother-in-law kept saying she could watch the kids while I slept. My husband and I have been on the outs since going back. I was loading my plate with all the duties mother and wife related without taking time to breathe. My entire situation was a boiling pot waiting to spill over as I kept adding more life ingredients. Is that not what is expected of women today; to balance everything and give it all, with little to no complaints attached?

I’m here to say that should not be the expectation for women today. That should not be the expectation for anyone. Despite that moment in life I feel like to many people try to do it all and then feel guilty when they hit the breaking point. I broke down, and at first I was so ashamed of the things I said and the actions I did. My emotions and exhaustion from trying to do everything without help got out of control. The best thing out of this situation is looking back at why it needed to happen. I’m not happy it took this point of breaking to be heard, but to know that I’m still human and I still have lots to learn about life.

Having time to look at the situation my children had food in their bellies that night. Did I spend the last twenty dollars in my bank, yes I did. They were fed and according to my eldest son he really wanted to go and have time with his mom. I have been working hard the last two weeks at my new job. My son just wanted some mom time because he missed the time we used to have. He didn’t care that it was fast food he was happy that I gave him my attention and time to listen to him. I got to hear all the wonderful things going on at school. Learning about his friends, and what he likes. He didn’t care his mom was in sweatpants or that I felt like he deserved a better mom. Both of my boys ate and had fun just having their mom love them.

In the car I had a massive fight on the phone with my husband. We don’t often fight, and we never fight in front of the kids. On Thursday I was to emotionally exhausted to follow those rules. My husband is a great guy and my best friend. For the last month he and I stopped working as a team that we are. He was tired from work, I was tired from work, we both had been co-parenting just not in sync with one another. That morning I had sent a mean text message belittling him as a parent and a partner. My irritations from work and my doubts as a wife and mother came out and I fully admit I used my husband as a verbal punching bag. Sending that text message was awful, I hurt him because I was hurting. Having that fight oddly brought us together. Even though our children saw it they also get to see their parents apologize to one another, and that shows them it’s ok to have an argument and how to work it out as a team. This argument allowed my husband and I to say what we thought and create a solution for a better future. We both had childhoods where adults fought but never found a way to move forward. Silver linings and all we just have to keep moving and understand we are still learning to love one another by forgiving and being compassionate when we are hurt.

My children saw me cry. I bawled my eyes out and had the best cry. Crying can be healthy. I am the person that hides in the bathroom so no one can see me cry. I have done this since childhood because I was never taught what emotions I could have. Only learning anger and silence and emotions like I had on Thursday were punishable. Growing up in emotionally abusive environments are hard to manage emotions that are out of control. I don’t handle emotional stress in healthy ways. I wait until my breaking point to deal with them. My children deserve different futures from me. Seeing their mom cry showed them it’s ok to feel emotions. It’s ok for them to be upset and express their frustrations. After calming down I explained to my children that mom was upset but it’s not their faults. I also apologized for their mom losing control and I loved them. Explaining to my children that sometimes mom feels upset and needs to find better ways of coping than to yell and scream. It is not their job to solve my problems. It is however my job to teach them it’s sometimes ok to not be ok. I explained to my children they didn’t do anything wrong and held them tightly. When we got home I took some time to listen even harder to their needs because tiny humans need love the most, and I need to break the cycle of the past.

With everything happening I’m here to say my emotional breakdown happened. It happens to so many people in today’s society. People are expected to pile a thousand of things on their plates without complaint. Despite that moment in life I feel like to many people try to do it all and then feel guilty when they hit the breaking point. I broke down, and at first I was so ashamed of the things I said and the actions I did. My emotions and exhaustion from trying to do everything without help got out of control. The best thing out of this situation is looking back at why it needed to happen. I’m not happy it took this point of breaking to be heard, but to know that I’m still human and I still have lots to learn about life.

Written by Ali Johnson

Mental Trauma (Childhood memories & PTSD)

Children that have memories after child hood abuse can be something fuzzy. Like tuning a radio finding a station. They sometimes can hear the chatter but the sound isn’t fully clear. Once they hit the right radio station however the image and quality of the memory becomes crystal clear. All the fuzz lifts away and leaves the person dealing with the memory in a limbo like spot. All the pain that once was and continues to be needs to be dealt with.

I struggle with all memories from my childhood. Even with the “good memories they are forced out by the ” bad memories”. I recently went over childhood photo books trying to place what time I was in. Names marked on the back of the photos I wanted to remember if I was happy at that moment. I wanted to know if it was possible for good times to outweigh the bad times. I recently started to recall parts of my life that was a main source of trauma. Wanting to get over the pain and move forward in life I struggle with the fuzz of the past. I can hear echos of words said and moments been. I cannot see faces unless I’m having a PTSD episode in my sleep. Once I wake I cannot remember who or where the incident happened. The fractures in my memory are really hard to cope with because I cannot get a clear picture of what happened. I question myself during the memory periods because I cannot say what is true and what is not.

I tried EMR treatments at therapy. I wish I could say the treatment was successful unfortunately I struggled with them. In my mind I struggled to know what was real and what my mind made up to cover the pain. Other people have reported EMR treatments for PTSD as highly successful. Even though it was not a success for me I still encourage others to try it. What works for one person in mental health may not work for everyone. I did feel angry that mine didn’t work because dealing with these memories have caused life problems I don’t have the solution to.

Triggers from fractured memories are complicated in childhood abuse cases. I have triggers ranging from the smell of bleach, smell of cologne, words people say in passing, and certain locations that look familiar. My anxiety gets triggered when my home becomes cluttered as I found my first home stressful due to my grandparents hoarding. Triggers and memory can be complex because try as I might to avoid them I cannot be certain I can. My husband has pointed out that I get weird around certain people. This can be contributed to remembering certain parts of my abusers face and placing it on the other person. Although my mind has blocked out what my abusers look like I can still remember from the fuzz certain details my mind has latched on to. One example of this is men with slight bags under their eyes. My one childhood sexual abuser to, had bags under his eyes and dark hair. I become triggered if the persons voice sounds similar to my molesters voice. I have never forgotten that voice because out of all the ones in the fuzz it’s the loudest.

One of the statements peoples make to childhood abuse survivors is ” remember this happened”. It’s hard to hear because the mind creates a protective bubble around the past. Trauma of the mind or body is a funny thing. Not hahaha funny, but funny in the way it works to protect the person living with the trauma. With extensive trauma such as childhood abuse or sexual abuse the mind forms the bubble in order for the host to survive mentally. This bubble is like a balloon and slowly deflates; because it becomes to filled with memories either true or untrue, that the person who survived the trauma has to try to heal from it. With any bubble or balloon it can pop at any given time and when that happens it is like an explosion of pain and grief. Not everyone survives the pop of greif.

I still live with fractured memories. I’m not keen on thinking I will ever fully grasp what actually happened. My mind is a puzzle missing the main pieces to complete. I don’t think my mental radio station will ever become fully in tune. Living with the fuzz is a part of my trauma. Moving forward has been tiresome because I wish I could put truth within my mind and understand why the abuse happened. Dealing with the release of memories has become a constant the older I get. One trick I have found helps in the getting rid of the fuzz is talking out the memory as if I was a small child again. Interacting with the memory even fractured has helped me cope and become more familiar with my triggers.

Everyone has a different way with dealing with trauma. In childhood abuse I would like to offer this it was not your fault. I am sorry someone robbed you of the good memories and replaced them with shards of false reality. You are not alone and others are right there with you hoping to replace what was once lost.

Written By: Ali Johnson

My Truth (Recovery From Emotional Abuse)

I once upon a time believed telling my truth would end up in more pain. For the last week I have tried to write my experiences living with my aunt. I have drafted and edited countless times. Every time I start to write my side of the story I get so angry my words come out as the old person I used to be. The angry person with little to no compassion because I felt lost. Reflecting on the past after living with an abuser is complicated. Excuses for an abusers actions are hard to counteract after doing it for so long. A part of me wanted to write everything that happened. Reading back my work I saw parts of the story that would hurt innocent people caught in the crossfire of my struggles. It’s not my place to write about them and hurt them back.

I started to forgive when I turned twenty-three. My forgiveness was not accepting what they did but to cut ties with my abusers. Inner knowledge states disengaging is the only way to fully heal and move forward with your life. Living in that home and going through emotional abuse has left permanent scars. The scarring is invisible on the outside, on the inside I live with the words and actions done by another person who I once looked up to. I chose to live with her because I thought she would different. Promises were made and I really thought my aunt would live up to them. I didn’t know in three short years our relationship would become a toxic lake of emotional turmoil. I lived with addiction my whole life I didn’t realize until years later addiction doesn’t care about anyone. It would do anything to destroy lives other than the addict itself. My aunt isn’t solely to blame for the relationship breakdown, I too played a part in pushing her mentally. I wanted her to get better three days before I left her home forever I wrote her note.

In that note I explained I wanted her to quit her company the Kali project. An escorting agency, it once held promise to do right and not allow drugs to the woman part of it. I think it was my second year living with my aunt drugs silently became part of our life. For someone who was once a successful paramedic and single mom doing her best addiction put her in sight and knew she would be an optimal candidate. Whatever pain my aunt had inside allowed addiction to turn her into the monster I know today. The second condition I wrote in the note was to start being a better parent to my cousin that I was raising for her.

I was fifteen and caring for a small child, I was neglecting myself. At fifteen, I started drinking to handle to screaming happening in my home. My aunt would leave me with her child and not return home despite my pleas of being emotionally unsuitable to provide care. At that time in my life my PTSD and depression went untreated. I was experiencing borderline psychosis from detoxing from the medication forced onto me from my first home. I loved my cousin with all my heart but to be her parent I could not. The reasons why; I was starving myself, I was drinking, I was mentally unstable, I was a cooking pot for disaster. My inner struggle was uncontrollable I went as far as using sex to be vulnerable. There was a night that pushed me closer to leaving the home and leaving my aunt. My cousin was screaming all night for her mom, I was going through a PTSD episode. I called my aunt to come home. She refused and said take care of it, I was so angry I threw the phone at my six year old cousins head. I regret this every day. If I could go back At that moment I would instead hold my cousin close and tell her everything will be alright. My aunt still insists that I beat my cousin, this part is untrue. I never beat or hit my cousin I did however come close during my episodes. After doing extensive therapy and treatment I see now that my aunt should have never put me in that position.

The third and final part of the note I wrote stated that I loved her, but I was going to kill myself or hurt others if I stayed. Three days before that note were written I was pushed to the end of a steep cliff. We had a large fight I still have trauma from. I asked her to get help before it was too late. She became angry with me and in front of my cousin and me she stated that she would drive off the bridge and drown us all. I hit my limit of patience and understanding. I told her to do it, words I wish I could take back. After that incident I came home I wrote the note. I wrote two notes that day one was a suicide note the other addressed to her. On the day I ran away I never said goodbye to my cousin. I wish I could explain to her one day that I had no choice. The drugs, the lies, the abuse made the choice for me. Three years later my cousin was removed from her home as my aunts life came crashing down. She lost everything that mattered to her.

I wish I could say a part of me is sorry she did lose everything. Forgiveness and empathy are hard to execute when your abuser will not change. Last year I received a message from my aunt stating she would have ” friends” who would do things if I talked to my cousin again. After that she emailed my grandmother stating I was a whore. Even in forgiveness her actions still tell the story abusers never change when they lose control. The best thing I ever did was walk away. Deep down I will always hold a place for her in my heart. I will hold the good memories close even though her voice and words cut like a knife from the later years. I hope one day she will own her truth instead of playing victim with her lies and false beliefs. Greatly hoping one day she will find peace inside her soul and make peace with the monster laying in her heart. I have done what I can to accept her, but acceptance can only go so far when she herself is loves the toxicity. I am sober and will not let her pain become mine ever again.

Written by Ali Johnson