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

The Real Tea (Narcissistic Mothers)

Confession time I do judge other parents. Yes I am aware of mommy shaming is not the right thing to do. I don’t judge moms on what they feed their kids or what their children wear or how their children act. What I do judge is when moms who treat their children like property instead of treating them like human beings. These are the moms that I see mirroring what my mother acted like and seeing the child beside her trying hard to please mommy dearest. Those children were me at one point.

On the outside people seen my mom as charismatic. That is how she hooks her victims and keeps her narcissistic facade alive. To the outside my mother looks like she cares about her children, and she has won mom of the year award. I know the real her and when I stopped being beneficial to her every want and need I was a disposable child. I once thought that she was something to be admired and just misunderstood in the world. Waking up to her lies after seeing through some of them brought out the worst person imaginable.

I didn’t grow up with my mother directly and that suits me just fine. Remembering when I was a little girl I thought I missed my mom and that one day she would come get us kids and everything would be alright. As a grown woman who survived her abuse: later in life I see that I was incredibly lucky to not have lived with her. Although I still lived with abusive caregivers; I still could not imagine being alive today, if I was under her care.

She had reached out to me when I was fifteen and beginning to emancipate myself legally. I remember her messages she sent to me. The mom I know she really is, was not the person sending the messages of care and commitment to do right by her daughter. She found my weak spot of feeling alone. She latched tightly and wound her web to hold me. I was naive hearing her stories everything she said she had answers to. The lowest point of my life was her thriving point to carry out her abuse. What she said at the time made sense: looking back I was blind to how much she could create on a whim.

It took one year and several months to start seeing through the woman under the veil. What she said and what actually happened are two different things. People started talking about my mother and what they said sounded more rational than what she said. I had one act of disobedience telling her no. I said no to something that went against my beliefs that one little no lead to my mother hating my very existence. Not only would she tell people I was a whore she would tell people I was abusing her. Anything she was doing to me at that moment created into her statements about me.

One thing I learned about surviving my mother is that it’s not completely over until one of us has died. No matter how much I have tried to escape her she still finds ways to interject into my life. I finally realized after one of my suicide attempts, she said to me ” what a shame I would have been free of you” the woman that was my mother only cared about herself and nothing would make it right. The moment was horrific the life lesson gained from it is unforgettable. I too needed freedom from the woman in the beautiful mask. The face hidden underneath it is deathly and hollow.

I wish I could say there is a happy ending or a feel good moment in reconciliation. Reality is the opposite. The only way to escape her abuse and be truly fee is to disengage. I still have not fully disengaged myself and I can’t until there is closer that justice will do her in to stop her abuse of others. I know the time is coming up in her trials of animal abuse. Promising to keep fighting for her victims because I never want her to steal another persons flame because that is what she does best.

I do judge mothers like her because when people don’t see them they are so dangerous to the child by their side. The little girls and boys who had mothers like mine don’t survive traditional methods. Some of them don’t make it out alive. The pain caused by these narcissistic mothers is explainable. It’s not the child who needs to fight for love but for the mother to fight for her child.

I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents. … The face and body may be perfect, but if a twisted gene or a malformed egg can produce physicalmonsters, may not the same process produce a malformed soul?

J. J Steinbeck, East of Eden

Written by Ali Johnson

Promise, They Will Be Enough

[Will’s father came back into town, and then lied to Will about being around more and left. Phillip is trying to comfort him]

Will: Hey, you no what, you ain’t got to do nothing, Uncle Phil. You know, ain’t like I’m still five years old, you know? Ain’t like I’m gonna be sitting every night asking my mom ‘when’s daddy coming home?’ You know? Who needs him? Hey, he wasn’t there to teach me how to shoot my first basket, but I learned it, didn’t I? And I got pretty damn good at it too, didn’t I, Uncle Phil?

Phillip Banks: Yeah, you did.

Will: Got to do my first date without him, right? I learned how to ride, I learned how to shave, I learned how to fight without him. I had *fourteen* great birthdays without him; he never even sent me a damn card. The hell with him!

[pause]

Will: I didn’t need him then, I won’t need him now.

Phillip Banks: Will…

Will: No, you know what, Uncle Phil? I’m gonna get through college without him, I’m gonna get a great job without him, I’m gonna marry me a beautiful honey and I’m having a whole bunch of kids. I’m gonna be a better father than he ever was. And I sure as hell don’t need him for that, ’cause there ain’t a damn thing he can teach me about how to love my kids!

[long pause; he’s crying]

Will: How come he don’t want me, man?

Scene from Fresh Prince of Belair.

I remember watching the scene from Fresh Prince of Belair for the first time and felt so connected to what he was saying. I too had absent parents who treated me out of convenience instead of want. Lonely is the best way I can describe my feelings towards the missing people that were supposed to step up and do the right thing. Some people say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but when your parent is negligent it causes a certain degree of pain.

Every time my parents would choose to jump in and out of my life a rift grew. I questioned why they chose that time to step up when they wanted no part in anything else going on. One of my battles as a child was dealing with questions of why I was not good enough for them. I was smart, imaginative, and loved to learn. The older I got I started to feel guilty for being a burden to them. I always felt that I was the reason my mom was slightly crazy and my dad didn’t want me because I made my mother nuts. It didn’t matter how much I achieved I was never good enough for them.

Overtime as their absent parenting grew I felt raw anger towards them. Other children would state how great their parents were. How they loved them unconditionally. The one time that I rejected seeing my father I was guilt tripped by family members. They stated that if I didn’t love my dad I should say it directly. I was torn into pieces that day instead of being told my emotions are validated. Thirteen year old me made a promise that day that if I ever have children; I would love them until the day I take my last breath, and be better than what they were one hundred percent.

Two boys later I have kept my promise. I, no longer keep contact with my mother by ensuring she has no access to abuse my children. My promise is simple yet it allows my children to be loved. Unlike my mother I will allow my children to make mistakes and not treat them as a disappointment. I will make sure they have food in their bellies before myself. They will always have a safe space to live in and someone to care about their needs. My last promise is to tell them I love them with each passing day. To hold them when they are scared and cheer them on when they do great things.

I am not a perfect parent by any means. My parents made a choice to walk away from me, what I learned is that I will be better. I did learn something from them and that is my children are first before me. My love for them shows them they are enough. They will not go through life wondering how they failed me. Love and trust does not come easy for me, but my children will never have to struggle with feeling alone and unheard. I may have been unwanted but I will always want my boys.

Written by: Ali Johnson

30 weeks with my son Maximus.

myself, Travis, and Max